We recently caught up with Susan Pullen. Pullen earned her MSW at BUSSW in 1990. She is currently a Behavioral Health Clinician at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Pediatric Primary Care.

Tagged: mental health

Alumni Q&A: Susan Pullen (’90)

March 11th, 2015 in Alumni, SSW News Releases

We recently caught up with Susan Pullen. Pullen earned her MSW at BUSSW in 1990. She is currently a Behavioral Health Clinician at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Pediatric Primary Care.


What made you choose BU and social work?
I was really drawn to the strong urban tradition of the school, and the focus on social justice was a big part of the school’s mission. BUSSW really exemplified that value—the faculty and students were working in diverse communities throughout the city. I studied at Tuft’s University for my undergraduate degree. I had done some volunteer work in the city and knew social work was the right path for me.

Did you begin the program with an interest in clinical or macro practice?
There were a lot of options and variety—clinical concentration, macro social work, policy and planning, etc. That was really appealing for me at the time because I wasn’t sure of which exact direction I wanted to go in. I also felt a strong sense of the approachability of the faculty. They made a big effort to personally connect with the students. Ultimately, I did my field internship in a clinical area and really valued the experience.

How did your education at BU set your career in motion?
At BU, my field experience provided me with the opportunity to work with and interact with diverse communities of people that I might not have otherwise. This experience really changed my perspective on the world—and my own place in it. In particular, working with an urban, inner city population opened my eyes to what I wanted for my career. While at BU, I worked in a community mental health setting, as well as at University Hospital, which is now Boston Medical Center. Both of those internship experiences taught me a lot about the opportunities I had been given in my life. Seeing the strength and resilience of the people I worked with was humbling.

What were your next steps post-graduation?
Following graduation, I worked at Boston City Hospital with the Pediatric HIV Program. My responsibilities were an extension of the work I had done with children and families in community mental health and at University Hospital during my master’s program.

What kind of work were you doing?
I worked collaboratively on a multidisciplinary team on a coordinated care system, and also in connection with parents and caregivers of patients. One of the experiences that was most rewarding to me during this time was helping to organize a trip for the families to the National Pediatric HIV Awareness Day that was held on the Mall [National Mall] in Washington, DC. Some parents of the children cared for in the clinic spoke at the event. Helping organize the trip and going along with them was really special.

Tell us a little about how your career has progressed over the years.
A common thread throughout my entire career so far has been working with children and families. From 1995-2001, I enjoyed facilitating and teaching a psycho educational group called the Parents in Distress Program developed at Dartmouth College. This was a court-mandated program for parents and children following substantiated child abuse and neglect. I saw that people would begin this group feeling angry about being made to attend by the court. What was rewarding was seeing that by the end of the process, the individuals who stuck with it were changed by having been a participant in the program and were confident in saying their family situations had improved. Witnessing this change in people was remarkable. The program was curriculum based. This experience helped me realize how much I enjoyed the creativity of teaching and the empowerment that comes through learning. I was inspired to go back to school for certification in elementary education. I taught middle and upper elementary school for 9 years.

What are you up to these days?
I work at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Pediatric Primary Care. My title is Behavioral Health Clinician. My role is to support the mental health needs of patients in a primary care setting. This is a new program at Dartmouth that is still under development. An initial aspect of our program is to screen all patients 12 and up during their annual “well-child” visits. The screening instrument is on a tablet; included on the tablet are measures of risk for depression, and for risk of substance misuse or abuse. Those are two groups that we’re identifying, reaching out and responding to. The response might involve meeting with a patient and a provider during a medical visit. I also meet with patients outside of the scope of the medical visit to complete further assessment. I work with patients to develop a care plan and coordinate with professionals in the community. Some of my work also involves providing counseling in the primary care setting. The longer-term vision is to integrate behavioral health care by infusing education about these important issues throughout the primary care system.

Outside of work—how do you engage in self-care? What are some of your hobbies?
I like to sing. I’ve always enjoyed being physically active—running, exercise classes, dancing. I love to read and am a member of a book group. I’m a member of a spiritual companions group and am a member of my church. I like to play piano. And I especially like to spend time with my family. Both of my daughters currently attend BU, so I frequently visit the campus and still find it very near to my heart.

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Associate Professor Hyeouk Chris Hahm joins the Center for Multicultural Mental Health Research at Harvard University School of Medicine as Visiting Scholar

February 7th, 2013 in Faculty, SSW in the Media, SSW News Releases

Associate Professor Hyeouk Chris Hahm joined the Center for Multicultural Mental Health Research at Harvard University School of Medicine, in January 2013 as a visiting scholar. Dr. Hahm will be specifically working on health disparity research targeting Asian-American population using the national data sets, evaluating effectiveness of interventions and incorporating/adapting HIV intervention to mental health intervention. The Center provides a wonderful learning experience for Dr. Hahm, in part to its regular project meetings, research seminars, manuscript and grant review feedback sessions, and its rich network of investigators, including data analysts, economists, and other research staff members. Dr. Hahm will be at Harvard until the end of summer.

While in this role, Dr. Hahm is working closely with Margarita Alegria, Ph.D., director of the Center for Multicultural Mental Health Research (CMMHR) and professor of Psychology, Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School. Dr. Alegria researches mental health services for Latinos and other ethnic populations; she is currently the Principal Investigator of the Advanced Center for Mental Health Disparities, and the Latino arm of the National Latino and Asian American Study, as well as the Co-Principal Investigator of the CHA-UPR Excellence in Partnerships for Community Outreach, Research on Health Disparities and Training (EXPORT) Center. Dr. Hahm will also be working with Benjamin Cook, Ph.D., M.P.H., senior scientist, CMMHR, and assistant professor, Harvard Medical School. His research interests are in improving methods for measuring disparities and applying these methods to understanding the mechanisms underlying mental health and substance abuse treatment disparities.

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