I was born and raised outside Philadelphia, so I am what Californians call an “East-Coast Transplant.” From an early age, I enjoyed working with children and teens. In college, I mentored a group of high school students interested in healthcare at Pennsylvania Governor’s School of Health Care for six weeks, and it was an important experience for me. I also taught a course during that summer on Complementary and Alternative Treatments including physical exercise, yoga, and nutrition as a means for healthy living.
I was always interested in how human beings think, interact with each other, and behave in a wide variety of social settings and in pursuit of those interests I received my B.S. in Biology and minor in Psychology at Villanova University. I then pursued my medical degree at Drexel University College of Medicine. While in my fourth year of medical school, I was chosen to lead a “Physician and Patient” course, teaching first year medical students on proper techniques of interviewing patients and families. After medical school, I spent one year training medical professionals including physicians and nurses about evidence-based medical practices in Lusaka, Zambia in collaboration with the University of Alabama.
After graduation, I initially wanted to be a pediatrician, but quickly learned that psychiatry was the career for me. One of my mentors noted that I spent more time learning about the social aspects of my patients, including their family dynamics, interests, and who they were as people, rather than “6 year old girl with acute exacerbation of asthma”. I went on to train with the late Dr. Elizabeth Weller at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, who really cultivated my interests in child and adolescent psychiatry, and provided me with extensive knowledge in diagnosing and treating psychiatric disorders. Dr. Weller stressed the importance of understanding the biological, social, and psychological factors that impact people’s lives, which I continue to stress in my own practice.
I completed my general psychiatry residency at Harvard South Shore (HSS) and child and adolescent psychiatry fellowship at Stanford. While in training, I worked with Drs. David Henderson and Christina Borba at Massachusetts General Hospital and studied substance use and high risk behaviors in youth. I also travelled to Liberia and educated medical students at the University of Liberia on psychiatric disorders and treatment since they receive no formal training in psychiatry. There is only one psychiatrist in their whole country!
While at Stanford, I was mentored by Dr. Tom Tarshis, BACA’s founder, and joined the BACA team. I also worked with Tom on developing a questionnaire for elementary and middle school teachers to assess their knowledge, perceptions, and attitudes toward bullying and victimization and awareness of any long-term and short-term effects of bullying among students. I will be presenting some of our initial findings at our upcoming annual child psychiatry conference. While I have treated a variety of psychiatric diagnoses, I am specifically interested in depression, anxiety, and college mental health. I place a lot of value on finding non-pharmacological methods to promote good health.
I am very proud to be a part of the BACA team as the Clinical Medical Director at our Oakland site. BACA’s commitment to providing evidence-based treatments and high quality care to improve the lives of children, adolescents, and adults is truly inspiring and I feel honored to be working for this wonderful organization.