As I completed my graduate degree in social work, my plan was to become a clinical therapist; as much as I enjoyed the teaching, leadership, research and administrative components of the LEAH curriculum, I did not really think I would actually use them in my “real” job.
I finished the fellowship reluctantly, and started looking for employment. After working on an interdisciplinary team in an academic hospital, the idea of sitting in an office, on my own, seeing clients all day no longer seemed quite as appealing. Then I found a position in a multi-disciplinary mental health group practice that specializes in working with adolescents and getting to the heart of complex personal and family problems.
My first week on the job, I was asked to accompany my boss on a visit to a local high school where he was to make a presentation to freshmen parents about “Living with a Teen in the House.” He was given more time to speak than he had expected, so, on the spur of the moment, he asked if I wanted to talk about eating disorders. My heart was racing, but I said, “Sure.”
That’s when my LEAH training kicked in. I was able to take advantage of this opportunity for leadership because after all the presentations I had made to faculty and students during my fellowship years, it was easy to get up and calmly and professionally talk to parents about an issue with which many adolescents struggle. I felt exhilarated afterwards and realized how much I enjoy the “teaching” aspect of my work. I believe that in my own way I am a leader in adolescent health, and that I can have a positive effect on the lives of adolescents and their families. I attribute this directly to my experiences in the LEAH fellowship at Baylor College of Medicine