The Health Psychologist

Society for Health Psychology

Spotlight Interview with Dr. Stephanie Brezinski, a Post-Doctoral Fellow in Psychosocial Oncology

2024 Spring, A word from the student advisory council, The Health Psychologist

Stephanie J. Brezinski
Post-Doctoral Fellow
Christiana Care Health System, Helen F. Graham Cancer Center

Nicholas J. Powers
Communications Chair
Student Advisory Council


Dr. Brezinski graduated from University of North Dakota in August 2023 with her doctorate in clinical psychology and is currently completing her postdoctoral fellowship in Psychosocial Oncology at Christiana Care Hospital. Prior to postdoc, she completed her pre-doctoral internship training at Geisinger Medical Center where she received a wide range of health psychology experiences including oncology, primary care, eating disorders, functional neurological disorder, and bariatric surgery. As a practicum student, she trained in a number of settings including outpatient community mental health, private practice doing emotionally focused couple’s therapy, neuropsychological assessment with ages 5+, and outpatient and inpatient psycho-oncology work.

What experiences led you to becoming interested in psychosocial oncology? 

During the first year of my graduate training, I lost someone very close to me to cancer and as I went through my own grieving and healing process, I realized the importance of having psychosocial support services available for patients with cancer and their loved ones to help them make sense of and cope with the impact cancer can have on one’s life. Ultimately, it was because of my personal experience with cancer that I first started learning more about the field of psycho-oncology and decided to pursue a practicum training experience in psych-onc (which I describe in greater detail below). 

What drew you to pursuing a Ph.D. in Clinical Health Psychology? 

I decided to be a psychology major early on in my undergraduate training and for a long time, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my degree. All I knew is that I loved learning about human behavior, so I took a lot of different courses to try and figure out what type of career I wanted to pursue (e.g., psychology and the law, testing/assessment, clinical/counseling psychology). It wasn’t until the spring of my junior year that I had my first internship experience at a local community mental health clinic that I realized I wanted to pursue a career in clinical psychology.

What does a typical week look like for you? 

My work schedule involves a mix of outpatient individual therapy, inpatient consultations on the oncology unit, several multidisciplinary clinic consultations, program development time, and meetings/supervision/administrative time. Outside of work, I am currently studying for the EPPP licensing exam, so most evenings and weekends are dedicated to preparing for that along with spending time with my partner, friends, and three kitties.

What guidance/advice do you have for trainees who want to pursue a career in health psychology or match at a health psychology internship? 

Try to get practicum level training in health psychology if at all possible. I came from a graduate program that did not offer a lot of health psych focused course work, research, or clinical experiences so when I first started thinking about pursuing training and a career in health psychology, it was important to me to be able to have at least some health psych experience going into my internship application process to ensure it was something I was really interested in and wanted to pursue. Because there were minimal health psych opportunities offered through my graduate program, I chose to seek out training opportunities in the community and was very fortunate to find a psychologist who was willing and able to take me on as a supervisee and provide mentorship in psycho-oncology. While it took extra time, effort, and commitment to arrange this training experience, it not only helped solidify my interest in pursuing a health psychology internship, but also led me to want to specialize in psycho-oncology in the long-term. 

How did you manage your time in graduate school given the various responsibilities it entailed? 

Making time for friends, loved ones, and frequently reminding myself it’s ok to have a life outside of graduate school. Between courses, research, comprehensive exams, practicum rotations, applying for internship, etc., graduate school can be incredibly demanding, so it was important to me to find and make time for the activities that mattered most to me outside of my role as a doctoral student, which I believe was what ultimately helped get me through some of the most challenging parts of my graduate training. 

How do you see your career progressing after you complete your post-doctoral fellowship? 

My plan is to pursue a career in Psycho-Oncology. Ideally, I would love to work in an academic medical setting where there is opportunity for not only clinical work within the oncology population, but also the opportunity to work with psychology trainees either at the practicum or internship level who are interested in psycho-oncology as well as to be involved in program development/evaluation and administrative roles.