With the Current Funding Climate, Why Stay in Behavioral Medicine?
Lindsay Bullock, SBM senior media and member communications manager
The Society of Behavioral Medicine (SBM) asked early career members why they’re still determined to pursue a career in behavioral medicine, despite cutbacks in funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other entities. The members’ responses are below.
Deirdre Dlugonski, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology at East Carolina University
“The main reason I am staying in behavioral medicine is because I believe in the power of our behavioral choices to impact both individual and population level health. Regardless of the funding environment, it is important to understand why and how people make the choices that they make regarding health behaviors.”
Salene M.W. Jones, PhD, post-doctoral fellow at the Group Health Research Institute
“The reason I stay in behavioral medicine is the same reason I got into this field: the people. I got into this field to help people stay and become healthy, both physically and mentally. Decreases in funding may mean we can't do as much research or the same kind of work we could do with better funding, but that doesn't mean the work we can do isn't worthwhile.”
Erica Woekel, PhD, assistant clinical professor and director of the Lifetime Fitness for Health Program at Oregon State University
“Ultimately I am staying in the field because I feel like it's necessary for people to be actively invested in health promotion strategies. I know that NIH funding has decreased and part of my appointment as a faculty [member] at Oregon State University (OSU) is to train undergraduate students to pursue positive health behaviors at multiple levels. My program (Lifetime Fitness for Health) is a graduation requirement at the university, and OSU is also focused on health and well-being as part of their institutional strategic plan. I personally feel like these types of courses help students become more informed of the science (for nutrition, health behavior change, and physical activity promotion) while also teaching them strategies for achieving positive health behaviors.
“Oregon State University was just recently granted accreditation as a college of public health and human sciences, and we are the first of its kind in the state of Oregon. We have been working hard to continue our collaborations with our extension faculty, which allows us to see the dissemination of research to practice within 36 counties across the state. We see the difference in people, communities, and health behaviors and therefore this is why I stay in this field—it's essential for the well-being of people.
“Additionally, we have positive qualitative outcomes (and we are working on more quantitative and long-term data) from college students with regards to health behaviors, and due to this I will keep pursuing a career in behavioral medicine.”
Kathrin Milbury, PhD, assistant professor at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
“I never went into the field because of job security. I don’t have a high need for certainty. I’m competitive by nature and I like competitive environments. I love my work and I try to work hard while I have funding. In case, I can no longer fund my salary and/or research, it’s time to move on. Right now, I’m fine and I feel called to do this work. I’m not worried. I’m a very spiritual person and I trust God with His plan for me. I’m in the right career today—who knows what other options will come up in the future.”