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Career Spotlight: Jessica C. Hauser-Harrington, Ph.D.

Jessica C. Hauser-Harrington, Ph.D., St. John Hospital & Medical Center

Jessica C. Hauser-Harrington, Ph.D.
Director of Behavioral Science and Research
Family Medicine Residency
St. John Hospital & Medical Center
Detroit, MI

1. What is your current occupation?

Director of Behavioral Science and Research

2. What do you do?/Describe your role 

I work in medical education training family medicine resident physicians and medical students on various aspects of mental health. Through didactic lectures, informal teaching/mentoring, and working with them in the clinic and hospital, I help them learn how to identify symptoms of mental illness, how to make appropriate assessment and treatment referrals, and how to use techniques such motivational interviewing to encourage healthy behaviors in their patients. I also oversee research projects and direct our department’s wellness initiatives.

3. How did you learn about your job?

I first learned about my job through the APA Monitor’s job listing webpage after a fairly thorough review of several websites (e.g., APA Monitor, Indeed, Monster), listservs (e.g., APA Division 53, 54, 12), and discussions with colleagues. I had no idea this kind of job existed until a friend of mine from grad school completed a post doc through a medical school where she worked with resident physicians.

4. How have you navigated your career? As in, what was the process that you took to get to your current position?

This is actually my third job since completing my post-doc and it was not what I originally thought I would be doing as a career! I’ve previously worked as a tenure-track professor at a small liberal arts college (which I thought was going to be my dream job), and then took a clinically-focused position doing psychological assessments for children and adolescents to be closer to my family. This position has combined all of the things I love about being a psychologist–teaching, clinical work, research and even administrative tasks (I’m involved in recruiting/interviewing new residents and coordinate the orientation month).

5. Are you a member of Div53?  If so, how has being a member of Div53 been helpful to you?

Div53 has helped keep me connected to my roots as a clinical child psychologist. I work in family medicine, so we see ages birth through adulthood. Div53 keeps me up to speed on developments in child and adolescent mental health that I can then pass on to the physicians with whom I work.

6. What is the most enjoyable aspect of your job? Why?

I love the teaching and mentoring aspect of my job, getting to share my enthusiasm for mental health and wellness.  I love working with young professionals who are just finishing their training and beginning their careers. They’re eager to learn and want to be their best.

7. What is a tough aspect of your job?  How have you handled it?

The toughest part of my job is being the only psychologist in my department. There are definite differences in the way we are trained as mental health professionals and how physicians are trained.  Thankfully, I am close with a number of my colleagues from grad school and internship, and even though we’re spread out across the country, keeping in touch with them and getting their feedback is tremendously helpful.

8. What is one thing that you wish you had known as a graduate student or post-doc/early career psychologist that would have helped you navigate your career?

There’s not just one career or one career path! I had one path in mind when I started graduate school, another path in mind when I completed internship and post doc and neither of those paths ended up leading me to where I am now. I would tell my younger self (as I tell the students and residents I work with currently) to be open to the possibilities.

9. What advice would you give to students (including undergrads and grads) who may be interested in doing what you do?

I used to worry that my interests in psychology were too broad, not narrow or specific enough in terms of my research or my clinical focus. One of the reasons I love psychology is because the field and what you can do as a psychologist is so broad and diverse! I would tell students to take every opportunity available to them in terms of clinical rotations, research groups, teaching, conferences, etc. You never know when you might pick up a skill or make a connection that could be useful later in your training or eventual career.

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