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Diving into a Behavioral Science Faculty Position

Posted By Emma Guerrero-Pavich, Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Emma Guerrero-Pavich, LCSW is a graduate of the Behavioral Science Family Systems Education Fellowship program. If you are interested in applying, please click here.


It all started when I got this amazing new job as a Behaviorist for a Medical Residency Program.  The first day on the job I felt like I knew nothing. How could this be? I came in with years of clinical experience, a seasoned faculty from a well-respected college yet here I was…lost.  I didn’t know what I was supposed to be doing with medical residents who seemed to look at me with faces that showed me that they had nothing to learn from me.  Perhaps it was my hallucination but it felt real to me.  They were doctors and I was a social worker.  I was told by my program director that my knowledge and experience mattered to the team and that what I brought to the faculty was invaluable. Yet I felt like I was in a tunnel, not sure what direction to go or where I was headed.


About 6 months into my job I was invited by my supervisor to attend the annual STFM Conference. He assured me that I would find it rewarding. I arrived to find many people who were very welcoming, and I felt hungry to be a part of this group but was too shy to reach out. I attended workshops which began to ignite my curiosity, I felt activated to try some of the things I was learning. I felt the fog begin to lift and I began to see the big picture but still I felt very green. I kept asking myself "What could I learn from this very uncomfortable situation?” Then the best thing happened. I met Julie Schirmer, a ball of energy and enthusiasm who was most welcoming and genuine. Julie began to talk about the Behavioral Science Family Systems Fellowship (BFEF). She invited me to apply for it.  I wondered if I might ask my program to let me apply. She encouraged it, but I was hesitant.  Then I told myself "Okay, Emma, just do it”.  I submitted my paperwork then asked my boss if I could do it then a few months down the road I got the word! I GOT IT!!! I was so amazed, excited and grateful.  Since that day, nothing has been the same. It was as though just being selected began to give me the confidence I had been lacking.


 I have learned so much this past year. I have met truly wonderful people who have opened their hearts to me fully. My small group is amazing; my group leaders are seasoned professionals in the field who are incredible women with smarts and hearts of gold.  Despite feeling initially terrified by the project we had to do, this group of people was inspirational and dedicated to my success.  They helped me see that I did indeed know what I was doing and had much to offer. At our final meeting at the STFM Annual Conference in 2015, I was fortunate to hear presentations from each participant in our class. We were all fabulous. We all grew, we all gave 100% and we all got the wings we needed to fly.


Without giving it all away, let me just say that if you are wondering whether you should apply for the STFM Fellowship or seek some other structured mentoring opportunity, I strongly encourage you to do it!  You will be so happy you did. I know people who did not initially get accepted.  They are now so excited about participating because they see firsthand the changes in those of us who have done it. If you feel like I felt, green, lost, unsure, and hungry…do it. This program is not only a confidence boost, it is a path to success. Once you finish this program you will be connected to a network of people who are generous with their ideas, who will help guide you and who will care about your success. You will have the knowledge, skill, and confidence to continue contributing to our field which is developing a solid presence in Family Medicine. Behavioral Medicine rocks and your presence in the field will be greatly appreciated.  Jump in, play hard, and make a big splash!


Emma is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the States of California and Hawaii. She graduated from University of California at Los Angeles with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology and a Masters Degree in Social Welfare. Emma serves as Social Work Faculty for the Behavioral Science Department with The White Memorial Medical Center Family Medicine Residency Program.  Emma was a participant in Class 5 of the Behavioral Science Family Systems Educator Fellowship.  She completed her Scholarly Project on Decreasing Social Barriers to Optimize the Learning Environment during Video Recorded Clinical Observations and presented it at the STFM Conference in April of 2015. 

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