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Internship Clinical, Geropsychology, Russian, Jewish

April 7, 2013

I am a young Jewish woman originally from Russia. My family immigrated and settled in Pennsylvania. I will be completing my PHD this year in Psychology at Yeshiva University and I feel that I am a strong candidate for your internship program. I look forward to a long and distinguished career as a clinical psychologist working in the areas of rehabilitation and neuropsychology.  I hope to work with immigrant and ethnic minority populations, especially the geriatric members of our Russian immigrant societies. This is how I feel I can provide the greatest service to my community as someone who is fluent in Russian. I can also read and write in both Hebrew and Spanish and I look forward to using these languages as well as a professional psychologist.

 My research interests stem from my ethnic background and personal experiences, coupled with my clinical interest in geropsychology. I look forward to life-long study in the area of cultural diversity, acculturation, and cultural factors as they apply to psychological and neuropsychological assessment, particularly with regard to elderly immigrants from the Former Soviet Union, one of the oldest immigrant groups in the United States.  Russian culture is notorious for attaching a stigma to mental health problems. Moreover, available literature indicates that Russian immigrants may be more likely to manifest somatic symptoms of psychological distress and seek mental health treatment from their primary care physician. Thus, this segment of our population has great potential for under-recognition or misidentification of psychological distress. 

 I have conducted extensive critical literature reviews on the prevalence and presentation of depression in older Russian immigrants.  In order to understand how this population group differs from the general elderly population, my analysis included an overview of the current understanding of depression among community dwelling older adults compared to older adults in primary care settings.  I have also examined our current understandings of the manifestations of depression among older Asian and Hispanic groups.

 My dissertation research continues to emphasize the potential under-detection of depression among elderly immigrants from the former Soviet Union.  My study reports findings from a subset of data collected as part of a larger study of physical and mood symptoms among Russian immigrant older adults. My central research goal is to contribute to a determination of the factors that influence accurate detection and diagnosis of depression among older, immigrant patients in primary care.  Preliminary analyses indicate a high rate of depression reported in our sample that appears to go undetected in many cases. There was a tendency to report more severe levels of somatic symptoms than syndromal symptoms and physical functioning was thought to be more impaired than emotional functioning.  These findings indicate that the central keys to understanding how to improve the care of elderly Russians in primary care facilities would be to increase our sensitivity to the presence of psychological distress, thus facilitating a more accurate assessment of mood symptoms.

 I have a solid foundation for culturally competent therapeutic work.  I look forward to giving my all to this internship so as to further broaden my knowledge and experience with diverse patient populations.

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