The Health Psychologist

Society for Health Psychology

Careers in Health Psych Spotlight: An Interview with Dr. Katherine Meyers, an Integrated Primary Care Psychologist

2023 Fall, A word from the student advisory council, The Health Psychologist

Katherine Meyers, Ph.D.
Psychology Training Director
Edward Hines Junior VA Hospital

Jessica Kruse
Communications Chair
Student Advisory Council

Thanks so much to Dr. Meyers for speaking with us about her role as the Psychology Training Director at the Edward Hines Junior VA Hospital! 

Interested in meeting other Training Directors? Please join us at the APA Convention. The Student Advisory Council will be hosting an Internship Application Panel from 1-2pm and a Health Psychology Training Directors Meet & Greet from 3-5pm on August 3rd in Washington D.C. We hope to see you there! 

Bio Blurb: 

Katherine Meyers, Ph.D., received her doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the Illinois Institute of Technology. She has been working at Edward Hines, Jr. Veterans Affairs (VA) Hospital near Chicago, IL for 9 years in various integrated care settings including Women’s Health, Primary Care, and Oncology. Dr. Meyers is currently the training director of the APA-accredited internship and fellowship programs at Hines VA. Dr. Meyers has enjoyed involvement in various professional service activities including past chair of the APA Committee on Professional Practice and Standards, and current member of the APPIC postdoctoral committee. 

Interview Questions: 

What Experiences Led to You Becoming a Psychology Training Director? 

I started my career at Edward Hines Junior VA Hospital as an intern and I have been here ever since! The thing that really excited me about a VA career was the opportunity to be immersed in clinical practice, training, and research. 

After internship, I worked as a staff member in integrated care and health psychology. As I started to provide clinical supervision, I found it really energizing. I became more and more passionate about the importance of good clinical training and mentorship. As the practicum coordinator at Hines for several years, I was able to develop our practicum program and gain more administrative experience. I also continued to develop my expertise in integrated care and developed new competencies in psychosocial oncology and women’s health. Through the APA, I also became involved in professional service. I currently serve on the Committee for Professional Practice and Standards (at the time of this interview), and the leadership and service experiences afforded to me by APA have prepared me well for other leadership roles. 

All of these experiences helped me to develop the skills and competencies I needed to serve as the Psychology Training Director. When the position opened, I felt a calling to continue to grow as a mentor and a guide, so I applied and was ultimately selected as training director. 

What Drew You to Work Within the VA System? 

The VA system is very passionate about training. It’s in the VA’s DNA to train students. Some of the very first psychology training programs and internships were in VA settings, and so I was attracted by that reputation. I was also drawn by the patients you can serve through the VA. I’m very passionate about working with diverse and underserved patient populations, and I feel it’s a setting where I get to do important work within these communities. Something that has kept me at the VA is the ability for me to balance my professional and personal identities. As someone who is a mother and holds other identities that are important to me, I value that the VA supports strong work-life boundaries and that I have the time outside of work to focus on other parts of my life that matter to me. 

What Does a Typical Week Look Like for You? 

I spend about 40% of my time in integrated care and health psychology settings, either providing care directly or supervising trainees. I spend another 40% of my time teaching seminars or facilitating group supervision with trainees across the training spectrum. Approximately 15% of my time is dedicated to committee and leadership roles. The remaining 5% is spent on professional development, curriculum development, and my APA committee roles. 

Taking a Step Back from Your Role as Training Director for a Moment, I’m Wondering What Attracted You to Working in Integrated Care and Women’s Health

One of the things that excites me about integrated care is that you must be a strong generalist. You don’t know what you’re walking into when you enter a patient’s room and have to be ready for anything. I feel that it’s a field that is always challenging me to grow and learn more. Even though I did not have a lot of exposure to Health Psychology in graduate school, I felt excited about learning more about the intersection of health, medicine, mental healthcare, and the mind body relationship.  

Working in a medical setting was also quite attractive. I think that psychologists have a lot to offer in medical settings. I think this allows us to practice at the top range of our competency. Not just in terms of clinical work, but also in terms of supervision, consultation, and opportunities for leadership.

Personally, I also feel very energized by the varied schedule and activities of an Integrated Care Psychologist. I love that you wear many different hats within the hospital, and the day is loosely structured and unpredictable. I also felt called to help those who may not otherwise have access to mental health care. A real privilege of working in integrated care is that you are often one of the first mental health care providers that the patient has ever met. I’m very passionate about reducing stigma and helping people to identify sources of distress and engage in mental health care. 

What Guidance Do You Have for Folks Who Might be Interested in Pursuing a Career as a Training Director? 

Being grounded in the clinical work has been helpful for me as clinical training director. My experiences and conversations with different patients and colleagues have anchored me in purpose and guided my work in curriculum and program development. It’s also important to get varied experiences that allow you to serve in future roles. For instance, I’m the training director for a neuropsychology internship, even though my specialty is Integrated Primary Care!  

Getting involved in clinical training is very rewarding. As clinicians we can impact our patients, but as a supervisor I can impact each clinician and all their patients. The cumulative impact feels meaningful. I encourage people to get involved in clinical training! 

What Advice You Have to Offer to Trainees, or Folks Earlier in Their Career? 

It’s a marathon not a sprint! I wish at times I’d been able to stay a bit more in the moment and take the time that I needed. It’s important to focus on balance and the things that matter and serve us well, both personally and professionally.  Finding that balance and passion fills up our tank and allows us to serve in our demanding but important roles as psychologists. I would also be less afraid to ask for mentorship sooner! It took me some time to build my confidence and professional identity, and I think it would have been helpful for my professional development to have had more mentorship earlier in my career.  

Guideline development is also a wonderful opportunity for influence and leadership! Working on guidelines on how psychologists practice in healthcare settings have really enriched my career and allowed me to broaden my scope and impact. 

I also hope more people in psychology pursue leadership opportunities in healthcare. I think psychology has a lot to offer in these settings!