already had an offer for a postdoctoral fellowship with the Child
and Family Therapy Clinic at the Kennedy Krieger Institute. But
he didn’t let his post-internship plans distract him from giving
his all during his last few months of work. His commitment to
the organization is among the reasons why, Heckman presumes,
he got an offer to return to the Boys Town Behavioral Health
Clinic when his fellowship ended in 2012.
“One thing that’s been good for me is not burning bridges,”
says Heckman, who earned his PhD in school psychology from
Indiana University in 2010. “Working well while still working
here is likely what got me the offer to come back … and this is
the only place I want to be.”
“Sometimes I feel like I’m still in
school and I’m not. Now I’m …
the one who’s supposed to have
ANDREW HECKMAN, PHD
As a staff psychologist in the outpatient clinic, Heckman helps
children, adolescents and families in the Omaha area manage a
wide range of emotional, behavioral and academic problems in
order to prevent the need for residential services. Though he’s
in familiar territory, he still has a lot to get used to, including the
transition from the residential program to the outpatient clinic
and changes to the area’s resources and school systems.
“It’s strange for me to transition from the role of being a
trainee to being a psychologist, or the trainer,” he says.
When he’s in training sessions with the clinical psychology
interns, for example, it’s easy to forget he’s not one of them
anymore. And, when he’s coaching clients on parenting
techniques, he has to maintain confidence in his expertise,
despite the fact that he’s not a parent himself. “Sometimes I feel
like I’m still in school and I’m not. Now I’m … the one who’s
supposed to have the answers.”
Kimberly Smith, PsyD, 33
Kimberly Smith earned her PsyD from Pepperdine University
in 2012 after feeling unchallenged in a career doing program
evaluation for community organizations. Today, as a clinical
psychologist specializing in neuropsychology, she has just
accepted a postdoctoral fellowship at Cedars-Sinai Medical
Center in Los Angeles, where she is supervising students and
running a research project on Spanish speakers who have HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders.
“Right now I’m at a huge learning curve — I’m learning
to be a clinical researcher,” says Smith, who is also a wife and
mother of two. “It’s fascinating!”
She interned at a California state mental hospital, where her
work with severely mentally ill patients made her an attractive
postdoc candidate. “It opened up a whole new world of severe
mental illness and [I was surprised by] how easily I was able
to work with that population,” she says. The response from
postdoctoral program directors was, “If you can work with that
population, you can work with anyone,” she says.
To make the transition from clinician to clinical researcher
more manageable, Smith says she is reading “voraciously,”
brushing up on statistics and embracing her role as a leader.
“In my mind, it’s weird that people call me ‘Dr. Smith,’ [but you
have to] embrace the fact that you’re a professional,” she says.
Smith hopes eventually to work at an academic medical
center or hospital where she can see clients in a training
environment. She can also see herself in private practice. “Be
flexible about your options and what you’re willing to do,” she
says. “If you’re too rigid, you close yourself off.”
Erlanger Turner, PhD, 32
In the summer of 2011, Erlanger Turner, PhD, entered the job
market with a PhD in clinical psychology from Texas A&M
University, a license to practice and experience as a postdoctoral
fellow at the Kennedy Krieger Institute. Still, his job search was
“very difficult,” he says.
He applied to at least 15 places. After almost a year of
searching, in September, he accepted a position as an assistant
professor at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Virginia
Treatment Center for Children. “I accepted this position
because it allowed for both clinical work and research,” says
Turner, who earned his doctorate in 2009 and serves as the early
career psychologist representative on APA’s Membership Board.