Dr. Megan Gomez has made it her life’s work to help veterans and their mental health. Since she could remember, she has always had a passion for psychology and helping others, so she underwent intense schooling and training to become a clinical psychologist.
Dr. Gomez’s motivation stemmed largely from her own Grandfather being diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in her early teens. This gave Dr. Gomez the desire to study and navigate the disease alongside her grandfather and any other patients in need of her help. The passion for psychology that she held through most of her life is what prompted her to accept a job at the VA Hospital. She said that while training there, she fell in love with the veterans and other patients. She enjoyed the sense of community she felt and the relationships she built while working with them.
“Relationships shape who we are and that they give us meaning,” Dr. Gomez said. The group therapy sessions she is a part of are important to her because in those meetings, veterans are amongst their own. They are all soldiers undergoing a new kind of battle and they help and motivate one another with their own words and guidance, strengthening their relationships. Dr. Gomez shared a quote that one of the veteran patients shared during a group therapy session: “nothing builds camaraderie like suffering together.” This quote made Dr. Gomez realize how important bonds and relationships can really be during someone’s time of need.
The connections that Dr. Gomez creates and sustains mean a great deal to her: she can work with veterans knowing that she was able to help as much as she could until their passing. She did not want to sound “morbid”, but she explained that she loves being able to provide comfort and helping veterans pass with a sense of dignity. Unfortunately, many of her patients are terminal so she must always be ready for the worst, but before then she will gladly meet them at the hospital or in their homes helping where she can.
Now, the pride Dr. Megan Gomez feels in her work does not only stem from her love and work with her patients but also from her fellow female colleagues. According to an article published by the American Psychological Association, “…women make up 76 percent of new psychology doctorates, 74 percent of early career psychologists, and 53 percent of the psychology workforce”. This influx of women in psychological professions has in fact been the experience of Dr. Gomez. She remembers that while in grad school her peers were predominantly female. Even now as a professional, she notices that she works mostly among women. She believes that men tend to gravitate towards research jobs as opposed to women who seek clinical professions instead.
However, this isn’t a problem for Dr. Gomez. “I think it’s cool to see women getting the higher education and pursuing their passion for sure”, she said. Seeing other women in her field succeeding and working alongside her gives her a sense of womanly pride. This pride also comes from her work with the veterans’ wives and/or elder daughters during a difficult time. She helps them to remember that they too are important, and their needs should not be left aside. She helps them understand what is happening to their loved ones and how they can help them during their time of illness. But above all else, she helps them make time to take care of themselves. Dr. Gomez believes it is important for the wives and/or daughters to hear that it is ok and that they are important too.
Her years of studying and working have made Dr. Gomez quite knowledgeable in her field. She has learned and experienced enough to know that this line of work takes time that one must be willing to give in order to achieve your goals. If she could impart any advice to future women starting out in her field, she would say: “Follow what feels authentic to you. I think you’ll be your best when you are just authentic with yourself and not trying to prove anything or be someone that you’re not.”