Denisonians in Health Professions: Art Therapy

A path to health professions: art therapy - michelle-chavez-241x300.png image #0

Michelle Chavez ’07 (Oldford)

Role:  Art Therapist

Graduate School attended: Adler University, 2010 graduate

Fun Fact: I grew up on a horse farm. 

Describe the process you went through to select your career path: what impacted your decision? 
When I graduated from Denison I had no idea what I wanted to do as a career.  I knew that I wanted to work with children, and that I loved art, so I used that as a starting point.  I looked into different career options and stumbled upon art therapy.  Art therapy seemed like a perfect way to combine my interests in psychology and medicine with my love of art.  Even though it was unplanned, I had almost all the courses necessary to pursue the Master’s Degree required to be an art therapist. 

As I moved through my graduate work and narrowed my interest field, I was drawn to working in the medical environment.  Art therapists practice anywhere that psychological services are offered, and I was drawn to the unique needs of pediatric patients undergoing hospitalized treatments. 

What are your favorite aspects of your profession?
Easily, the best part of my job is getting to know patients and families.  People think of children’s hospitals as sad places, and while of course some moments are sad, for the most part kids are just trying to be kids, and I can help build up coping skills, and process difficult moments through art.  The kids and families that I work with are incredibly resilient and I am inspired by their strength on a daily basis.          

What is the most challenging aspect of your work?
Art therapy is a greatly misunderstood profession, so it gets tiresome explaining that I’m not doing “crafts” with the patients, that I am a licensed counselor and that we are doing therapy, just using art instead of words.  We are constantly having to justify our services. 

Describe what a typical day looks like for you.
My days never look the same, which is one of the things that I love.  There is no monotony.  But “typically” I do a few hours of administrative work in the morning, answering emails, placing supply orders, etc. I spend late mornings either providing supervision for my intern or providing art therapy to patients in our outpatient hematology/oncology area.  I usually have patient rounds or staff meetings over lunch.  After lunch I have one-on-one bedside sessions with patients, mostly in our Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, Pulmonary unit (seeing patients with cystic fibrosis), Oncology unit, and with post-surgical and trauma patients.  Once a week I have a scrapbooking support group with families with infants in our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.  The end of the day I spend charting on my sessions.  I have to be self-motivated, and I work within a large multi-disciplinary department, collaborating with art and music therapists, child life specialists, school teachers, nurses, doctors, social workers, and chaplains.         

What advice would you give a student interested in pursuing your field?
If you’re interested in pursuing a career in art therapy, as an undergraduate take as many different kinds of art classes as possible.  It never ceases to amaze me how many classes I look back to when patients let their imaginations run, and we end up making giant sculptures, molds, sitting and painting, or drawing together.  I also always think it’s a good idea to attend a professional conference in the field you’re thinking of pursuing.  It’s an easy way to get an idea of what’s going on in the field, clarify any misconceptions, and meet people in the field.   

Meet The Peers

We have a great line-up of peer advisors ready to help you take on a number of career related issues!  Learn a little bit more about these fantastic career ambassadors. 

Meet the peers - fullsizerender-150x150.jpg image #0Alex Frank is a senior majoring in Psychology and Cinema.  Alex shared “I’m so excited to be a part of the Knowlton Center team this year! I am thrilled to be a part of a team of hardworking and like minded peer advisors in order to help spread the word about the awesome opportunities and guidance the Knowlton center provides — along with learning about all things resumes!”   Fun fact about Alex…she had a provisional patent on a medical device she engineered when she was 16!  You can make an appointment or drop in to meet with Alex on Tuesday from 11-1 p.m. in Burton Morgan 306 or from 7-9 p.m. in the library.  

Meet the peers - unnamed-150x150.jpg image #1Sophie Lovett is a senior majoring in Mathematics and Environmental Studies.  Sophie shared, “I have found so much excitement and energy as I have searched for and obtained internships and jobs throughout my college career. I am really looking forward to instilling that same excitement in my peers that come visit the Knowlton Center!”   Fun fact about Sophie…she has been a flower girl in 7 weddings!  You can drop in to meet with Sophie Monday between 2:30 and 3:20, Wednesday between 2:30 and 3:30 or on Thursday between 2:30 and 4:30. 

Meet the peers - headshot-r.elfman-150x150.jpg image #2Rachel Elfman is a senior majoring in Economics and French.  Rachel shared, “I am excited to be a peer advisor because the Knowlton Center has been very helpful as I have explored career paths and looked for internships. I encourage all students to start early and take advantage of the many resources available, including resume and cover letter assistance, mock interviews, and general career exploration advice. I look forward to working with you in the Knowlton Center!”  Fun fact about Rachel…she studied abroad in Aix-en-Provence, France last semester and in addition to speaking French, she is also learning Spanish!  You can drop in to meet with Rachel Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday between 2:30 and 4:30. 


Denisonians in Health Professions: Physician Assistant

Denisonians in health professions: physician assistant - tiffani-dorn-294x300.png image #0Tiffani Dorn ’12

Role: Physician Assistant 
Professional School attended: Ohio Dominican University, graduated 2014           
Fun Fact: I am a youth leader and also lead mission teams to Honduras annually.

Describe the process you went through to select your career path: what impacted your decision?
I initially decided on going into medicine when speaking with a gentleman who ran a mission organization in Haiti. I asked him for advice as someone who wanted to do mission work. He said one of the best things to do is to learn a skill that I could use on the field. That was the summer before starting college, so I started looking into medical school at that point. However, in the back of my mind, I was concerned with the amount of time and money it would take before I could practice on my own.

In 2009 after my sophomore year, I went to Haiti for 3 weeks for a medical mission internship. Fortunately, that summer there was a PA from Kentucky working there with his family for 2 months who mentored me. After learning about the PA profession and that PAs can do almost everything that a physician can with a much more condensed schooling and tuition cost (though still a huge commitment), I decided that’s what I wanted to do.

I did a medical mission internship in Ghana in 2011 to get more experience in healthcare and serve the underserved.

What are your favorite aspects of your profession?
The best part about being a PA is having the knowledge and skill set to really help people. As compared to other healthcare providers (MDs, DOs, and NPs), PAs do not have to specialize in a certain field so we can transition between specialties. So far, I have worked in urgent care as a solo provider and in orthopedics seeing patients in the office and first assisting in surgery. I also like having the autonomy to see my own patients and do what I think is best for their care, while also having a physician who I can consult if I see something I have not seen before.

What is the most challenging aspect of your work?
Any job in medicine is challenging. It is mentally challenging (in a good way!) to assess patients and come up with the best treatment of care for that unique person. It also has its social and bureaucratic challenges in both the work setting and with patients who may think differently than you or may not be compliant with their healthcare. Also, the paperwork is my least favorite and most time consuming thing.

Describe what a typical day looks like for you.       
In my orthopedic job, my typical day consists of seeing patients for follow-up, post-op, or walk-in appointments. I do a history and physical exam of each patient, order and interpret testing (x-rays, MRI, CT, labs, EMG, etc.) when needed, give joint injections, fit braces, give rehabilitative exercises, place casts and splints, and whatever else is needed. In surgery, I work as a “first assist”. This includes helping prep the patient for surgery, retract tissue, suction, close the incision (suture/staple), dress the wound, and help get the patient back to the post-op area.

In my urgent care job, I was the only provider on my days there. I would see each patient that came in, diagnose them or order proper testing, and prescribe medication. I would also do any procedures and perform physicals.

What advice would you give a student interested in pursuing your field?
I would advise you to shadow in the field to see if it is something you really enjoy! I have had multiple students shadow with me and love answering any questions and showing them what a PA does! I would also advise you to really think about your motivations for wanting to be a PA (or whatever you decide) and use that as inspiration when times get tough or stressful.

Welcome to the 17-18 Academic Year

Welcome to the 17-18 academic year - malinhank-img1244-300x300.jpg image #0

Hank Malin, Executive Director, Knowlton Center for Career Exploration

Hank Malin P’15  
Executive Director, Knowlton Center for Career Exploration

The Knowlton Center for Career Exploration team welcomes you to the 2017-2018 academic year! Regardless of how you spent the last few months, we hope you had a great experience. 

I just joined the Knowlton Center at Executive Director earlier this summer, although I joined the Denison family six years ago when my older son started here as a member of the Class of 2015. My professional background includes 14 years in education as a teacher and admissions professional, followed by 20 years at General Mills working in the human resources function. I am delighted to be back in higher education. I have learned through my early conversations with some of you that the career exploration process can feel overwhelming at times. That was my experience when I was in college as well, but I encourage you to own the process and come see us and ask for help!

The Knowlton Center team has been preparing all summer for your arrival.  We’ve made some changes to physical space and shortened our coaching appointments from 60 to 30 minutes so we can expand our program offerings.  Additionally, while retaining our commitment to true career exploration, our career coaches will be offering a focus on specialized career paths.  Finally, we are launching the concept of “labs” (sessions on topics ranging from a general introduction to the career exploration process to resume writing to networking and landing a great internships or job.)  These changes were made to better help you more fully explore your future career and life!

You’ll hear from us regularly throughout this year, including the weekly Knowlton Note. I hope you’ll take the time to read what we send you and to fully engage in your future!  Have a great year and hope to see you at the Knowlton Center soon!

Summer Internship Series: Helping Students Prepare for College

Mike Angelo ’19
Summer Completion Coach, College Forward, Austin, Texas

My name is Mike Angelo, I am a junior Environmental Studies major with an Educational Studies minor.  This summer I had the privilege of serving as a Summer Completion Coach at College Forward in Austin, TX.

College Forward is a non-profit college access organization that serves students across Texas in an access program and across the country in a persistence program. The primary focus of College Forward is to equip low-income and first generation college students with the tools and support to graduate with a college degree. Among other things, College Forward mentors, teaches, and empowers their students beginning junior year of high school. This summer I worked in a summer bridge program designed to assist students preparing to enter their first year of college. The cohort of interns I worked with did some typical intern activities, filing and organizing to mention some, but we were also given ample opportunities to participate in committee work and projects.

My principal responsibility was contacting students in my caseload. This was an intimidating responsibility–calling students who were only two years younger than me sounded like an awkward task. And I’ll admit, it was! However, College Forward was such a conducive environment for me to develop and enhance the necessary skills and before I knew it, I was comfortably calling students left and right.

My supervisor, Melissa Aleman, was phenomenal, to say the least. With every meeting, it became more and more evident that Melissa cared about my growth professionally. She was extremely helpful with guiding me on setting personal goals throughout the summer, and she was sure to help me get the most of my experience with the company. She also helped me translate my many ideas into action items around the office, which really made me feel like I was making a contribution to the company. Ultimately, I think the most important thing I learned from Melissa is that a supervisor isn’t someone to fear or be intimidated by, they are someone who really is there for you.

This summer I had the opportunity of interviewing candidates for the full year position. This was as daunting as it sounds. After a couple training sessions with HR, I was ready to sit in on an interview. Due to timing, I was only able to participate in one interview, but there was an extremely unexpected learning opportunity from this. Being on the interviewer side taught me that interviewers are just normal people who are looking to have a conversation with you. This experience was the single best professional development opportunity I received this summer, and I believe that it will really help me in the future relieve the stress of an interview.

I also had many opportunities to take leadership on projects this summer. One highlight was creating a resource guide for the full-time employees to learn and relay information about beneficial programs in the area to their students. I volunteered to lead this project to gain experience leading a project in an office setting. I was able to learn how to lead productive meetings and effective ways of communicating with my team. This was also my first experience setting deadlines and preliminary deadlines in a professional setting. At the end of this project, I felt a sense of accomplishment among the other interns on the team as we presented our final resource guide to our supervisor.

My summer at College Forward has helped me guide my professional goals and give me an insight into my future career. I know now more than ever that I want to work in an environment where I can help students and my experiences at College Forward have helped solidify that decision.

I would like to thank Melissa Aleman and her fellow Program Managers, Rachel Van Middlesworth and Ashley An along with everybody at College Forward for an enriching experience this summer.