Andrew Heckman, PhD
Last October, when Heckman began his position as a staff
psychologist at Boys Town in Omaha, Neb., the notion that a
client of any age with any condition could be referred to him
was unsettling. Now, “it’s less and less of something new that
comes in the door,” he says. “I feel more and more comfortable
all of the time.”
These days, he sees mostly adolescents and young adults
with anxiety, depression or behavior problems. “I like that age
group because I find it challenging,” Heckman says.
His clinical work has also inspired him to start a research
group to explore such topics as the effectiveness of different time-out procedures and the ways parenting behavior affects children’s
anxiety. He’s also evaluating a program at Boys Town that teaches
kids social skills through fitness-based activities. “A lot of kids get
involved with sports, and there’s this group that doesn’t,” he says.
“[This program] is an athletic outlet for those that don’t.”
Heckman is also sharing his expertise outside of Boys Town.
He recently traveled to Baltimore to deliver a talk on family-
based therapy and has also presented closer to home, in Omaha,
where he dispelled myths about children who set fires for an
audience of therapists and school counselors. “It’s one of those
behaviors that really scares people,” he says. “But it’s [really] a
problem-solving behavior, it’s just bad problem-solving because
they’re bored or don’t know how to regulate their emotions.”
As he settles into his second year, Heckman is finding
that professional life isn’t as stressful as it’s made out to be in
graduate school. He just bought a house with his wife, Stacey,
and doesn’t anticipate leaving Boys Town or Omaha anytime
soon. Once you pass your boards, get licensed and start
working, “your work isn’t your whole life anymore,” he says.
Kimberly Smith, PsyD
During her first year as a postdoctoral fellow at Cedars-Sinai
Medical Center in Los Angeles, Smith was rarely in her comfort
zone. The clinical neuropsychologist juggled a variety of
duties, including seeing patients, conducting research on HIV-medication adherence, training pre-doctoral psychology interns
and interpreting studies on Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia
for pharmaceutical companies. She also expanded her role by
agreeing to co-lead a hospital-wide pain management program
and accepting an appointment in the neurology department in
addition to her previous appointment in psychiatry.
“It seemed impossible initially, but now it’s not,” says Smith,
who now advises other young psychologists not to second-guess
their competence as she did at first.
Smith’s newfound comfort allows her to be more flexible as
a trainer and teacher. For example, she’s more open to letting
her trainees and students set the agenda for what they want to
learn. During her courses in the biological basis of behavior
and functional neuroanatomy, for instance, she asks students
to bring in case examples. “It’s directly relevant to them, and
“I’ve learned so much — and
some of it just couldn’t be
taught in graduate school,”
says Dr. Rachel Casas.
Once you pass your boards, get
licensed and start working, “your
work isn’t your whole life anymore,”
says Dr. Andrew Heckman.