Clinician Spotlight: Katrina Markowicz, B.S.

November 10, 2019


Where did you go to undergrad?

Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan.

Did you always know you wanted to work in a medical setting or have any previous medical setting work exposure before graduate school?

I wanted to be a pediatrician since I was in elementary school until well into my early years of undergrad. However, in undergrad, I became fascinated by psychology and turned my career path towards becoming a child/adolescent clinical psychologist. During this switch in undergrad, I joined multiple research projects that allowed me to see firsthand the intersection between mental and physical health. One experience was a coding position I held at Karmanos Cancer Institute in which I coded child and parental affect before and after the child received chemotherapy. Another experience was the TEDY project conducted by Dr. Erika Bocknek, which investigated toddler emotion regulation through various behavioral tasks and physical data (e.g., heartbeat, skin conductance, microbiome samples, and genetic markers).

Why did you choose to join the Primary Care Psychology Training Collaborative run by Drs. Rybarczyk and Jones? Did you hear anything in particular from other students that made you want to work in primary care?

The projects I took part in as an undergrad showed me the process of mental and physical health research. However, at the time, I did not know it was possible for psychologists to work in medical settings and conducting therapy. When I first heard of the Training Collaborative, I automatically knew I wanted to be a part of the team, especially since older students spoke so highly of their rotations. In particular, after listening to these experiences, I chose to work in the Primary Care clinics because it afforded me the opportunity to learn new clinical skills with an array of presenting problems in a fast-paced and team-centered environment. After two years (and hopefully more!) of working in Primary Care settings, I wouldn't take it back - this has been such a wonderful experience! 

What primary care clinic(s) do currently you work in? 

I work in the Pediatric Primary Care Clinic at Children's Hospital of Richmond, and Telehealth at VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital.

What clinical populations are you interested in working with?

I am interested in working with underserved children, adolescents, emerging adults, and families. I enjoy working with an array of presenting concerns, such as ADHD, behavior problems, anxiety, depression, suicidality, sleep difficulties, weight management, homework problems, and adjusting to psychosocial stressors. Additionally, I am very passionate about working with patients with comorbid mental and/or physical health conditions, and LGBTQ+ identifying individuals.

What have you liked about your primary care rotation? 

I enjoy the opportunity to connect with patients from diverse populations and provide evidence-based services from a culturally humble lens. I have also enjoyed the integrated team-based nature of the work. I love that I can consult with a patient's doctor, nurse, or social worker regarding their care to provide the best and most comprehensive services possible. I also like the fast-paced environment, and how every shift is different, which is in part due to the vast array of presenting concerns. Overall, primary care is such a rewarding experience because it affords the opportunity to see the patient/family work hard to apply strategies to their lives within a short time-frame to meet their behavioral health-related goals, and improve their overall wellness.

What are your big takeaways from your work in primary care so far? How do you think this opportunity will prepare you for the workforce when you graduate?

My two biggest takeaways thus far have been: 1) coordination of care between providers is essential to the overall wellness of the individual, and 2) evidence-based practices can be delivered in a brief manner. I think this opportunity will prepare me well for the workforce when I graduate, because I anticipate my career leading to a position in an academic medical setting. Also, many of my research interests fit nicely within the primary care setting, so I hope to make an impact in the field by conducting this research!