Jana Downum is a PhD student in the School of Mind-Body Medicine, with a specialization in healthcare practice. She is also a biofeedback therapist working for Pate Rehabilitation in Dallas, Texas. Her patients at Pate Rehabilitation typically present with traumatic brain injury, and she is able to help patients better manage their stress and pain, and improve their sleep.
Jana had practiced as a biofeedback therapist for 12 years and in 2011 had an opportunity to attend a workshop on heart rate variability biofeedback sponsored by the Biofeedback Society of Texas and conducted by Dr. Donald Moss, the chair of Saybrook’s School of Mind-Body Medicine. His PowerPoint presentation had the Saybrook University logo on it. Dr. Moss’s presentation was very motivating and the logo peaked her interest. She always wanted to further her education and pursue a PhD. She interviewed as a potential student with Dr. Moss and was accepted into the PhD program with a Healthcare Practice specialization.
Jana was initially hesitant about distance learning, but her first Residential Conference (RC) in San Diego confirmed her decision to attend Saybrook. The conference reflected a mind-body-spirit approach, with time for self-care, dance, laughter, and healthy meals. Jana met like-minded students from various backgrounds, some already in the health care professions and others who are making career changes. Each of her professors were supportive and eager to share their wisdom, knowledge, and application of mind-body medicine in their respective fields. The RC experience helped her to establish personal connections and support so that throughout the rest of the semester she continued to feel a sense of community with her classmates and instructors, as they interacted online and in videoconferences.
The PhD education has helped her to get newly excited about her work. She has been able to apply the skills she has learned and enhance her existing skill sets. She can now back up her clinical techniques by discussing scholarly research. Her patients appreciate her new knowledge and her sense of renewed passion. Her employer is very supportive and interested in the new skills she has learned as well as the research behind them. By including her employer and her family in her journey, she continues to be supported and nourished. Her own self-care now has a higher place in her life.
Jana reports that she has an amazing mentor, Dr. Luann Fortune, and has worked with a number of wonderful instructors. They are open and helpful with her. Saybrook’s Mind-Body Medicine program has allowed her to pursue her personal dream to become a PhD and promote her status as a mind-body practitioner. As she composed her story sitting at Starbucks (decaf of course), she realized that she feels so blessed and grateful for this opportunity.