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The Behavioral Medicine/Transplant Psychology track is designed to offer interns a comprehensive experience in the assessment and treatment of patients with end-stage heart, lung, liver and kidney disease who are pursuing transplant and/or left ventricular assist device (LVAD) placement. This track offers interns the opportunity to work on a multidisciplinary team in a large academic medical center and gain experience working with individuals with acute onset and chronic health conditions from diverse backgrounds who are pursuing life-saving treatment options. Interns will have the opportunity to gain extensive knowledge about many end-stage diseases, consultation in an academic medical center, transplant psychology and evidence-based interventions to help improve psychological functioning and quality of life of individuals who are pre- and post-transplant and LVAD.

 

The UNC Transplant and LVAD programs serve a diverse patient population. Interns will have the opportunity to discuss the importance of cultural sensitivity and cultural humility. Supervisors are committed to providing a supportive learning environment that focuses on inclusion, belonging and antiracism. Readings will be provided and discussion will be encouraged to increase interns’ knowledge of oppression, marginalization, and racial disparities as they relate to our patients and their care.

 

Clinical Rotations and Patients:

  • UNC Heart and Lung Transplant & Left Ventricular Assist Device programs

(Eileen J. Burker, Ph.D., CRC)

 

Interns will have the opportunity to perform inpatient and outpatient psychological evaluations of adult candidates being considered for lung, heart, or heart/lung transplantation and LVAD surgery.  Interns will consult with the physicians, nurses, physical therapists, and the social workers on the heart and lung transplant teams and VAD teams.  Interns can attend the multidisciplinary lung transplant and heart transplant/LVAD team meetings to present their impressions and recommendations.  Interns will provide individual or couples therapy before and after transplantation and/or LVAD surgery.  Interns will consult with patients waiting in the hospital for transplant and then provide supportive therapy as they wait for and then recover from transplant. Interns can participate in a structured group for lung transplant patients and/or co-lead an unstructured group for lung or heart transplant patients.  Interns can shadow other professionals on the team (e.g., palliative care, cardiothoracic surgeon, pulmonologist) to gain an in-depth understanding of the transplant process. Interns will have the opportunity to supervise graduate students in mental health counseling who are completing practicum and internship with the transplant and LVAD programs.

 

  • Abdominal Transplant (Krystal Morgan, Ph.D.)

 

Interns will have the opportunity to perform psychological evaluations of adult candidates being considered for liver and/or kidney transplant, and living kidney donor evaluations. Interns may also conduct brief therapy with pre- or post-transplant patients. Interns may consult with physicians, nurses, nutrition, and the social workers on the liver and kidney transplant teams.  Interns may have the opportunity to attend the multidisciplinary liver, kidney, and living donor transplant team meetings.

Recommended Minor Rotations:

 

  • UNC Pain Management
  • Bariatric Surgery
  • Center for Excellence in Eating Disorders
  • Integrated Liver Disease
  • Women’s Mood Disorders

 

Didactics:

All interns will be provided with books and peer-reviewed research articles to help them learn about transplant and LVAD. In addition, literature will be provided that illustrates the association between psychological factors (e.g., depression, anxiety, locus of control) and transplant and LVAD outcomes.   Readings will be provided and discussion will be encouraged to increase an intern’s knowledge different cultures, and how oppression, marginalization and racial disparities affect our patients and their care.

 

Professional Development:

We actively support the professional development of our interns.  Interns are encouraged to co-author peer reviewed journal articles and submit research to peer reviewed national conferences (e.g., SBM, APS, APA). In addition, interns who want to pursue a teaching career in the future may guest lecture in the graduate program in Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling in the School of Medicine, and/or supervise master’s students from that program.

 

Research Opportunities:

Interns are welcome to join our ongoing research or initiate new research projects. Currently our main project is a study of stressors, psychological distress, quality of life, resilience, PTSD and coping before and after LVAD in pts and caregivers.  Interns can: (1) add a measure to the current test battery, (2) assist with data collection, (3) analyze data already collected, (4) supervise graduate students working on the project and (4) co-author manuscripts and conference presentations using existing data. Support would be provided for interns interested in pilot clinic-based healthcare utilization projects with a specific focus on diversity and equity.

 

Supervision Training and Opportunities:

Interns have the opportunity to supervise master’s degree students in the Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling program who are completing practicum and internship with the UNC Transplant and LVAD programs. Interns doing this will be supervised by Dr. Burker to help in identifying the clinical training goals and progress of the graduate students.

 

Track Coordinator:

Eileen J. Burker, Ph.D., CRC

 

Clinical Supervisors:

Eileen J. Burker, Ph.D., CRC

Jessie Dikert, Psy.D.

John Freeman, Ph.D.

Krystal Morgan, Ph.D.