Clinician Spotlight: Kristen O'Loughlin, M.A.

February 6, 2020

Where did you go to undergrad?

University of Washington - Go Huskies!


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

After undergrad, I worked on several studies with dialysis patients. During my time in that position, I was struck by the number of barriers patients faced while seeking mental health services, which led me to become interested in ways to improve access to care including integrated primary care. I also grew to love working in the medical setting and alongside an interdisciplinary team.


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?

Much of my motivation for coming to VCU's clinical psychology program was specifically for the opportunity to join the PC Psych Training Collaborative. I was very excited about this training model, to gain experience collaborating with the care team and to work with patients from diverse backgrounds, with a range of medical illnesses and presenting concerns.


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

I currently work at the family medicine clinic Hayes E. Willis.


What clinical populations are you interested in working with?

I am interested in working with middle-aged to older adults in adjustment to new medical diagnoses or to better manage medical-related distress. Additionally, I hope to gain experience with insomnia and other sleep concerns.


What have you liked about your primary care rotation?

I have enjoyed working alongside more advanced clinical and counseling psychology students and learning from them, specifically learning behavioral health interventions related to their areas of expertise and how to creatively adapt them to the primary care setting.


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?

One of my biggest takeaways thus far is how beneficial integrating behavioral health into primary care setting is for both patients and the care team. The scope of care we are able to provide in this setting is quite expansive and contributes to the health and wellness of the patient population; along with relieving some burden from the care team. During my time in the Primary Care Psychology Training Collaborative, I have been gaining skills that will undoubtedly help me with my future career. I hope to eventually work in an academic medical center, which requires skills in adapting interventions to fit patient needs and time constraints, as well as building relationships and communicating effectively with an interprofessional team - all of which I am learning to do right now.