Marla Shapiro, Ph.D.

Practice Location and type:
A year ago, I left self-employed private practice in Atlanta, GA, to accept a position within the Sports Medicine Program at UnityPoint Clinic in Des Moines, IA, to join their growing multidisciplinary Concussion Center. 

Please tell us about your professional practice:
It continues to evolve! I love sports neuropsychology and working collaboratively with and within a multidisciplinary team. Educating my colleagues and community about what I do has been a part of my start-up; I’m definitely a unicorn in our system, and in my community. My primary focus when hired was to provide consultations and serial evaluations of children, adolescents, and adults who’ve sustained concussions through a variety of mechanisms, and not just sports. I’m also participating in a pilot program using guided self-help online CBT to address barriers to recovery from illness and injury, and pursuing advanced training in CBTi with the hopes of obtaining board certification in behavioral sleep medicine. I’ve also obtained additional EMR training (I’m an Epic Level II Physician Builder). I’m also hoping to become more involved with medical training and pediatric programs here, and I’m already seeing some pediatric hematology/oncology patients needing neuropsychological evaluations and consultations. Although my position is 100% clinical, I remain interested in research and am working with local and national colleagues on survey research related to concussion management and we should be rolling out our initial survey to NATA membership soon. 

What activities do you enjoy outside of work?
My passion has been 30+ years of volunteering with Camp Sunshine, which provides summer camps and year-round programs for children with cancer and their families. I’m a running coach and hoping to get back to coaching Cancer to 5K programs and my own triathlon training, in addition to young adult oncology programming here in Iowa. I’m also a fused glass artist, and we’ve carved out a fabulous glass studio in our new home to hole up during the winter, with enough room for me and my college-aged daughter to work together.

Why did you join NAN?
Networking and CE opportunities for sure, but I also believe it’s important for us to support our primary professional organizations in their work to support us. I particularly enjoyed my committee work with NAN, and while I’m now focusing my professional service energies on state-level issues, I hope to get back into NAN committees again in the future, with advocacy and professional issues a particular interest.

Do you have any advice to offer or anything else you’d like to add?
(1) Get involved! We are all very busy, but we also need to support ourselves and our profession in some way, because no one else is going to do that for us. (2) Diversify: the bulk of my private practice was comprised of comprehensive neuropsychological evaluations. When you’re booked 4-6 months out, it feels safe, but if I were still doing what I used to do (and in a large urban area like Atlanta), my income would’ve suffered significantly this past spring and summer. I’ve never wanted to be a therapist in the traditional sense, but expanding my role to include more consultations with more varied medical populations, coordinating our pilot CBT self-help program, and gaining the skills to conduct CBTi (which feels very similar to my approach to managing sports concussion), has all kept me very busy since last spring and feeling much better protected against what the future might bring…that and working for a fantastic health care organization that seems to truly take care of its own. (3) Find balance! Camp Sunshine is also my reality check and what helps me to remember what’s really important, and what is not. (4) Look outside urban centers (and think Iowa!) - I never, ever would’ve thought I’d end up outside the east coast urban areas where I’ve spent my life, let alone in a place like Iowa – yet, the personal and professional quality of life here is truly like nothing I’ve ever known, and we need more neuropsychologists (and trainees!) here. 

Christen Holder, Ph.D.

Practice Location and type:
I practice in an academic medical center in Memphis, Tennessee, home of The National Civil Rights Museum, the Memphis Grizzlies, Sun Studios, and Elvis. I am an associate professor at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, and Director of Clinical Neuropsychology at Le Bonheur Children's Hospital. 

Please tell us about your professional practice:
I am a pediatric neuropsychologist and love working with kids! My primary populations are children with epilepsy and those with congenital heart disease. In our Neuroscience Institute I work closely with neurologists in our Epilepsy Monitoring Unit, and in our Heart Institute I work with the heart transplant and HLHS teams. I also have a passion for working with children who have survived ECMO, and work with our critical care team to provide long-term follow-up for these families. 

What activities do you enjoy outside of work? 
I love sailing and being on the water! I race Thistle and Y-Flyer boats as the foredeck crew, and during non-pandemic times my team competes in regattas around the southeast. I also enjoy playing the guitar. I don't do it very well, so I only play in my home, but my family is sufficiently impressed.

Why did you join NAN?
I first joined NAN as a grad student, because a research team I was working with was submitting posters to the conference. I held on to my membership, but really got involved as a postdoc when I was part of the WIL conference mentorship program. Dr. Rob Marpou was my mentor, and by shadowing him and meeting people at the conference that year I first became involved with the Social Media Committee when it was just getting off the ground. I'm now the chair of that committee, and have come to really appreciate NAN as my professional organization "home." 

Do you have any advice to offer or anything else you’d like to add?
The best advice I can give trainees is that it is okay if your career is a winding road. Never say no to an opportunity, even if it doesn't seem in your wheelhouse, because you don't know what will come of it. NAN is a great place to meet neuropsychologists from all different career paths, and almost everyone I have ever met at NAN (even those we would consider "famous") has been friendly, kind, and willing to talk!