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.