Alumni Spotlight – Pablo Saldana, PhD, LCSW, CRC

Pablo Saldana - Alumni Spotlight pic (2)Tell us a little about your experience in the RSD program.

I entered the RSD program in the fall 2008 with a combination of tremendous excitement and some apprehension about commencing doctoral studies at UF. The apprehension faded as my mentor, Dr. Jamie Pomeranz, helped me to acclimate to the Behavioral Science and Community Health Department. He along with Dr. Tracey Barnett, Dr. Michael Moorhouse, and Dr. Mary Ellen Young welcomed me into BSCH which was my second home for the ensuing four years. Before long I was involved in research, teaching, navigating the IRB process, publishing manuscripts, and presenting at national conferences on the unique employment experiences of individuals with cystic fibrosis. I enjoyed the stimulating environment present in BSCH, the camaraderie with my fellow doctoral students, and the experience of learning from the outstanding faculty in the College of Public Health and Health Professions. These experiences enabled me to achieve numerous personal and professional goals.

What types of jobs or activities have you engaged in since graduation? And how does the training in the RSD program contribute to those activities?

My training in conducting research and utilizing evidenced based practices, which I learned in the RSD program, was instrumental to my career development. Upon earning my PhD, I assumed a full time position at Nemours Children’s Clinic in Jacksonville, FL where I concentrate on patients in the Pulmonology, Hematology, and Oncology clinics. I specialize in assisting with psychosocial adjustment to chronic illness, transitioning patients from pediatric health care to adult health care settings, vocational assessment, and with helping patients to manage illness-related functional limitations while transitioning to post-secondary education and employment. Recently, I was promoted to the position of Manager of Patient and Family Centered Care at Nemours. My responsibilities include providing leadership and direction to the Social Work and Child Life departments, working collaboratively with Division Chiefs, Department Chairs, and nursing personnel as well as providing overall leadership and direction in the ongoing development and maintenance of our patient and family centered care principles. I also facilitate our Family Advisory Councils and a multidisciplinary team addressing health care transition. Thanks to the grant writing skills I acquired in the RSD program I recently received a grant from the American Cancer Society to provide rehabilitation counseling and vocational services to young adult cancer survivors. In addition, I have presented at the North American Cystic Fibrosis Conference each of the last three years and I am an instructor in the human services program at Saint Leo University.

The RSD program provided me with a firm theoretical knowledge base and research experience. Along the way I also acquired an appreciation for a multidisciplinary approach which today serves me well working in a large multidisciplinary setting. I look back fondly at my time in the program and I use some aspect of my education and training on a daily basis.