Kristen Hawk-Purcell | PCOM Clinical Psychology | Match Day 2022
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Kristen Hawk-Purcell (PsyD '23) 
Match Day 2022

March 21, 2022

Students graduating from the Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology (PsyD) program are celebrating the next step in their professional journey. Here they share what has inspired them along the way and what advice they would give to new students.

Kristen Hawk-Purcell (PsyD '23) will graduate from PCOM's clinical psychology program and matched at PCOM's Center for Brief TherapyWhere did you match?

Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine’s (PCOM) Center for Brief Therapy in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

What specialty did you match into and why did you choose this?

The Center for Brief Therapy focuses on both outpatient and integrated care specializing in evidence-based treatment, specifically cognitive behavioral therapy. This training site allows me to continue gaining experience treating specific populations for which I want to specialize in, such as women's health, eating disorders and weight management, as well as anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorders.

How did you feel when you found out you had matched?

Ecstatic, proud and, honestly, relieved. I have been presented with many obstacles while completing my doctoral education that required more strength and resilience than I even knew I had, including delivering my beautiful son prematurely, becoming a new mom while still completing all doctoral clinical and course requirements, and, of course, a global pandemic. Therefore, when I opened that email with confirmation that I will successfully move on to the next and last part of this journey, I experienced a constellation of emotions and it was accompanied by many tears of joy. I was able to share this incredible moment with my family which made it all the more special. Being matched solidified for me how much I am capable of accomplishing and there is nothing more rewarding than showing my son that we truly can do hard things.

What inspired you to pursue behavioral health?

The sense of purpose with which I have pursued a career as a psychologist has been fueled by my belief in the limitless healing power of the therapeutic relationship and instillation of hope. I acquired this belief during my undergraduate studies as a music major, when I arrived at the realization that living one’s truth is not an inevitability or something to be taken for granted. Specifically, I saw many gifted music students suffer from crippling performance anxiety, which was a barrier to those who were considering the pursuit of a career as a professional musician. I felt compelled to pursue a second major in psychology because I believe that mental health issues should not be prohibitive to anyone pursuing their passion or living a life that aligns with their values. It quickly became clear to me that many people face barriers to their achievement and happiness because of mental health stigma and self-stigma. I therefore pivoted my studies to pursue a career in clinical psychology so that I could apply my passions not only to the art of musical performance, but also to the art and science of relieving burden and facilitating quality of life and joy that is not restrained by one's struggles. I have always been a person who ‘dreams big’ and so I dream of a future in which mental illness is no longer stigmatized and everyone has access to services that can assist them in tackling their challenges and improving their overall wellness so they can flourish.

What advice would you give to a first year student starting their journey?

Try to frame each experience and requirement, especially the most difficult, as "for my benefit." This reframe has benefited me countless times in my educational and professional careers because we learn the most from experiences that challenge us. However, an opportunity for learning can be squandered or limited if we are unable to view it as a chance for growth rather than just a difficult situation we have to get through. Additional advice would be to trust the process and utilize your social support! Find your allies and mentors within the program because they will be your greatest resources as you complete your doctoral journey. Lastly, always make self-care a priority!

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