M.S. Graduate Student Lara Bellardita and Dr. Georg Matt

When I went back to Italy, I initially looked for HR jobs but I frequently received the feedback I was overqualified for entry positions, but I did not have enough work experience for higher profiles. I decided that while I kept looking for a job, I was going to take the exam to get my clinical professional license. The professor who interviewed me was impressed by my experience abroad, and I was offered to work in a clinical psychology lab at Catholic university in Milan. I had always had a broad interest in the application of psychology in different organizations and contexts, and the offer to lead research project on psycho-social aspects of cardiac disease was appealing. I ended up getting a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, too. After that I stayed in the Clinical/Health Psychology area, and I currently work in the Prostate Cancer Unit (the first to be established in Italy) at the National Cancer Institute in Milan. The great thing about my current position is that my I/O background is not only appreciated but required. The combination of clinical and organizational knowledge and skills has been allowing me to contribute to different projects the PCU. I am involved both in clinical work with the patients and their families (mostly on health-related decision making) and in physicians’ training on communication and conflict management. I can definitely say there is no chance of getting bored!

I would probably describe my job as being at the crossroad of staff and patients’ needs, serving as a liaison between the patients and the clinicians. I also coordinate the research on prostate cancer anxiety, treatment decision making, and patient navigation/decision aids. I would also like to start research on the impact of physical activity/lifestyle and psychological traits on quality of life. But research funding is an issue nowadays almost everywhere!

I am not sure whether there is a job profile that describes my tasks and the skills and knowledge one should have to perform this job, at least we do not have it in Italy. I do know that the combination of my training choices and work experience did not make that much sense to me until I got this position. I do have the good feeling that my skills and expertise can be effectively employed in healthcare organizations for disease prevention and care, and possibly for physicians’ training too since the two things cannot but go together. I do know that the classes, teachers, and mentors at SDSU contributed to a very large extent to all this. I received outstanding training and an enormous support from the M.S. faculty! The support I received was critical given the fact that I was completely by myself as an international student in San Diego. And, I was very fortunate to have the most supportive and caring classmates who helped make my experience unique and very rewarding!