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 disorders.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Founded in 1899, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine 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 offers doctoral degrees in clinical psychology, osteopathic medicine, pharmacy, physical therapy and school psychology, and graduate degrees in biomedical sciences, forensic medicine, mental health counseling, organizational development and leadership, physician assistant studies, school psychology, and public health management and administration. Our 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 in inner city and rural locations. For more information, visit pcom.edu.
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