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What sort of research/work do you do?
I conduct research that looks at the complex, multi-level factors that affect health outcomes, especially as they relate to substance use and misuse. Most recently, I have been conducting research focused on understanding the integration of behavioral health care with physical health care. In this work, I seek to understand factors that affect implementation of behavioral health services into traditional medical settings, like primary care practices and emergency departments.
What inspired you to start doing this research/work?
After completing my undergraduate studies, I spent several years working in the field with diverse individuals who came from populations that included the homeless, individuals in the criminal justice system, women with severe mental illness and adolescent sex offenders. My work in the field made it clear to me that substance use and misuse was a major factor associated with the challenges these individuals faced. As I moved onto graduate studies and onto my career, I knew that I wanted to focus on understanding substance use and the treatment of substance use disorders to make a positive impact in people’s lives.
What are you currently working on that you’re most excited about?
I am currently working on a very exciting project focused on implementing a patient service called screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment (SBIRT) for substance use into a large integrated hospital system. My major role on this project is to work with the health care system to find ways to easily implement SBIRT into their primary care and emergency department settings. Another role I have is to train health coaches and other health care staff, like nurses, on how to conduct SBIRT in the hospital system. I also use data to evaluate whether the SBIRT service has been implemented properly and to determine if the service has a positive impact on people. Finally, I am also on a team that is building a tablet-based version of the screening and brief intervention tool, which will make it easy to use in the health care setting.
If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?
It is hard to imagine doing something else! The great thing about my position at CASAColumbia is that my tasks and roles are varied, and each day is interesting. I like knowing that the work I do can have a positive impact on the lives of others.
What’s your favorite sports team?
My favorite sports team is the Chicago Bears—I was born and raised in the Chicago area. Da Bears!