Mentoring Spotlight

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Tanya Vishnevsky, PhD

Editor’s note: The Mentoring Spotlight is a recurring feature that highlights Division 38’s Health Psych Connections program with experiences from mentor-mentee pairs and occasional articles on effective mentoring. For more information about the Health Psych Connections program, visit http://www.health-psych.org/Connections.cfm.

Tanya Vishnevsky, PhD

I originally signed up for the Health Psych Connections mentoring program a few years ago when I was a postdoctoral intern at the Transplant Institute at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. At the time, I was struggling to decide between focusing on research endeavors or clinical positions. Towards the end of my postdoc, I realized that clinical work drew me to my profession and provided the most fulfillment. And, as a mother of two young children, I also wanted to ensure that my career choice would provide me with a suitable work-life balance. In the end, I decided to join a group practice in Providence, Rhode Island that had a strong focus on health psychology and integrated primary care.

Although I did not match with a mentor during my job search, Zeeshan Butt contacted me several months ago to see if I was still interested in finding a mentor. I was thrilled at the prospect of speaking with a seasoned health psychologist about the next steps in my career and how to position myself to find employment in an academic medical center within the next 5 years. Zee connected me with Barbara A. Cubic, a Professor at Eastern Virginia Medical School and the Director of the Cognitive Therapy Program. Barbara is well-known in her field and has established a highly successful career as a clinician in an academic medical center. I was very excited to have the opportunity to speak with her and to gain her perspective.

During our phone conversation, Barbara graciously answered my many questions. She provided invaluable information on what academic medical centers are looking for in a candidate as well as important suggestions for how to stay active academically while in private practice. I sincerely appreciated having the opportunity to speak with her and hope to continue our contact in the coming months. Thanks to the Connections program and Barbara’s generosity as a mentor, I feel one step closer in carving out my long-term career path as a health psychologist.

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Barbara Cubic, PhD

Barbara Cubic, PhD 

I’m writing this on the heels of returning from the 7th national conference of the Association of Psychologist in Academic Health Centers (APAHC). At the APAHC conference I, along with Dr. Susan McDaniel and Dr. Cheryl King, participated as a speaker, small group leader, and CV consultant for their Early Career Boot Camp. Mentoring is such an important part of what seasoned psychologists can do for early career individuals and is something I’m very passionate about. Therefore, when Dr. Zeeshan Butt contacted me a couple of months ago and asked if I would serve as a mentor for Dr. Tanya Vishnevsky as part of Division 38’s Health Psych Connections mentoring program, I immediately said yes. Dr. Vishnevsky’s request regarding mentorship was pretty straightforward. She wanted guidance about how to prioritize her family while remaining viable in an academic health center. She had completed a health psychology degree and fellowship in institutions with a heavy emphasis on research. She explained to me that for her first position she was working in a private practice in order to be able to be available as a new mother. However, she hoped to be able to return to an academic health center at some point in the future.

Keeping Dr. Vishnevsky interested in returning to an academic health center in the future is important. Although modest improvements have been made in recent years, women remain underrepresented on the faculties and especially within the senior leadership ranks of academic health systems. Therefore, Dr. Vishnevsky and I talked at length about a variety of strategies that she could use while being employed in private practice to be able to maintain a relationship with academic health centers. We talked about the possibility of seeking out a community faculty appointment in order to stay connected both socially and professionally with the academic health center. We discussed how her involvement with organizations like Division 38, APAHC, SBM, and ABSAME, and others might also allow her opportunities to remain connected. We also discussed avenues for publishing materials, such as MedEdPortal, that would be of value to academic health centers.

Despite the existence of career development challenges related to gender, it is possible for Dr. Vishnevsky to work currently in private practice to prioritize family while simultaneously keeping connections with academic health settings.

Division 38’s Health Psych Connections mentoring program is a very important mechanism for members to mentor members. I am so glad that Division 38 has made this program a priority.