Prior to starting the MS Behavioral Health program, I received my bachelor’s at San Francisco State University in Kinesiology. I went on to serve in Belize with the US Peace Corps. There I worked on implementing the country’s health education curriculum countrywide. Through that experience I knew I wanted to help underserved populations gain access to the knowledge and resources of all aspects of health.
From my experience abroad, I was able to gain a better understanding that someone’s health isn’t merely treating the symptom, it is about understanding their social determinants. USF’s MS Behavioral Health program has provided me with more of an understanding about how to address health gaps. More than half way through the program, I am very pleased with my choice. I enjoy the small class sizes, the interdisciplinary nature of the courses, engaging professors, and the opportunity to complete an internship at a local nonprofit (LIFT-Levantate in San Rafael, CA).
In addition to my internship, I also have had the opportunity to volunteer as a peer counselor for students at USF’s Health Promotion Services and be a part of the MS Behavioral Health Student Association. All of these experiences have kept me busy, but more importantly have helped me gain experience beyond the classroom.
Eventually, I hope to work with youth through a nonprofit and provide them with primary prevention through health education classes and services. The MS in Behavioral Health program at USF is providing me a quality education that is collaborative, engaging, diverse and committed to social justice.
Kimberly Litts was the recipient of the first MSBH Dean's Award for her academic excellence in the classroom and in the field. At the awards ceremony, Associate Dean Borges noted that Kimberly "Was a leader among her peers and offered constructive feedback to the masters program, which we were able to direct improvement. She is a student who truly cares about her own success as well as others' success. She works very well both independently, and in teams, and was a source of support for her peers."
Dean Borges went on to say, "Kimberly actively sought out fieldwork and secured a prestigious placement as a Quality Improvement Intern at the San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH). SFDPH has kept her on staff past graduation, and has added duties as a medical scribe, which includes collaborating with nursing staff and medical assistants related to the patient's care plan at the Southeast Health Center."
Kimberly works alongside the provider and documents a patient’s visit into their electronic health record. She is also responsible for adding the assessments and care plan for each patient that is seen. Kimberly notes that one of the more important topics that was introduced in the MSBH program was the idea of an interdisciplinary healthcare approach for improving patient care and addressing health disparities among underserved populations.
Kimberly was recently accepted into USF’s Entry Level MSN Spring 2015 cohort. With the foundation the MSBH program has provided her, Kimberly states "I will be able to apply my knowledge of physical and mental health issues, evaluate social factors influencing behavior, incorporate a holistic approach in treating patients, and acknowledge the importance of working in a multidisciplinary health team to provide patient-centered care".
I chose the MSBH program at USF because of its comprehensive approach of addressing the gaps within the healthcare field. I have worked in an inpatient hospital setting for the last three years and was quickly aware of how important an interdisciplinary team was to the success of a patient’s health outcomes. The MSBH program has provided me with vital skills in the areas of program development, program evaluation and interdisciplinary collaboration. I have enjoyed being one of the first students to go through the program, as it has given my classmates and I the chance to shape our coursework into what we need to be successful in our respective fields.
In order to better understand the culture of Pediatric Primary Care (my area of interest), I have been working with the Child Life Department at UCSF to implement developmental and psychosocial care in the primary care clinic. Through research, collaboration, and in-person developmental interventions, I am creating a needs assessment, which will hopefully lead to funding for a full time Child Life Specialist within a primary care setting. I see that the health care field is changing and I am excited to possibly be one of the individuals responsible for shaping a new way to provide care to patients across the nation. I could not have done any of this without the help of USF’s MSBH program.
Emily Shay, Cohort 1, at UC Davis Pre-Medical and Pre-Health Professions National Health Conference
On October 11, 2014, two SNAHP students, Emily Shay (MSBH) and Lena Miller (PsyD), presented a workshop at the UC Davic Pre-Medical and Pre-Health Professions National Conference. The workshop, titled Integrated Care 101, described how the move away from specialized care to integrated, collaborative, patient-centered care changes the traditional model of practice.
They went on to discuss how with this shift, practitioners are meeting challenges that have not been part of their medical education. Emily and Lena went on to describe how programs at USF, particularly the MS in Behavioral Health, are working to prepare graduates for the new integrated practice approach.
Carl Schuler and Natalie Macias, Cohort 3, at Stress Less Day
According to the American College Health Association, the number one health impediment to academic performance is stress. MSBH students collaborated to put on a successful Stress Less Day on October 4, 2014. Students participated in all types of stress-reducing activities, which ranged from making potpourri to creating works of arts with crayons and coloring book pages.