Student Research Spotlight December 17, 2018
Fourth year clinical psychology student Nora Brier, MS/CCCHP ’15, (PsyD ’20), is examining
how women patients think and feel about their medical scars.
Nora Brier is currently in her fourth year of the PsyD program in Clinical Psychology at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM). Ms. Brier received her master’s in Counseling and Clinical Health Psychology from PCOM in 2015. She completed her first practicum training year at Intercommunity
Action (INTERACT) in 2017 and is currently a practicum student at the Center for the
Treatment and Study of Anxiety (CTSA) at the University of Pennsylvania. Nora’s research
interests include heart disease in women, anxiety disorders, and traumatic stress
What are you studying?
This study will examine how women think and feel about their medical scars. The study
will explore these thoughts and feelings in women over age 18 living with an implantable
cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) or pacemaker.
What prompted you to pursue research?
I always hoped to work with Stephanie Felgoise, PhD, professor and chair, clinical PsyD program, given her background in research and
advocacy work for individuals with heart disease. During my master’s program I was
a part of the LQTS Research team where I learned about critical research topics and
issues facing cardiac rhythm patients, including those who had implantable ICDs. In
that role, I participated in advocacy activities and gained insight into research
through peer involvement with senior students' dissertations. Embarking on this research
as a part of my dissertation has been the perfect way to study some of the topics
I was interested in alongside a valued mentor.
What experience do you have conducting research?
My current research marks the first time I have embarked on a research study. As a
practicum student at the CTSA, I work alongside expert researchers developing cutting-edge
techniques to treat anxiety and traumatic stress disorders. I participate in research
via submitting my patient’s scores on various anxiety measures as a part of ongoing
research collected at the CTSA, utilizing structured tools such as the Yale-Brown
Obsessive Compulsive Scale for those with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and the Posttraumatic
Diagnostic Scale For DSM-5 for those with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
What are your responsibilities in this research project?
Along with my principal investigator, Dr. Felgoise, I will be collecting and analyzing
the data for my research study. Participants will complete an online survey, which
will ask various questions about how they think and feel about their scars. Other
questions will address how participants solve problems, how they feel about living
with a medical device and how they think about their lives on a daily basis.
What is the broader impact of your research?
My hope is that this study will contribute to the literature by identifying how women
think and feel about their medical scars. This knowledge can help all medical providers—from
surgeons to psychologists—understand the impact that scars have on overall body esteem
and can help them better assist women living with medical scarring after surgery.
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About Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
Founded in 1899, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) has trained thousands
of highly competent, caring physicians, health practitioners and behavioral scientists
who practice a “whole person” approach to care—treating people, not just symptoms.
PCOM operates three campuses (PCOM, PCOM Georgia and PCOM South Georgia) and offers doctoral degrees in clinical psychology, educational psychology, osteopathic
medicine, pharmacy, physical therapy and school psychology, and graduate degrees in
applied behavior analysis, applied positive psychology, biomedical sciences, forensic
medicine, medical laboratory science, mental health counseling, non profit leadership
and population health management, organizational development and leadership, physician
assistant studies, school psychology, and public health management and administration.
PCOM students learn the importance of health promotion, research, education and service
to the community. Through its community-based Healthcare Centers, PCOM provides care
to medically underserved populations. For more information, visit pcom.edu or call 215-871-6100.
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