To tell the truth, there is no ordinary day for Roxana Llerena-Quinn, PhD. For starters, this multitalented doctor holds three different positions at three different institutions: She's a psychologist in Children's Hospital Boston's department of Outpatient Psychiatry, she consults at the Center for Multicultural Training in Psychology at Boston Medical Center and she's on the faculty of Harvard Medical School (HMS).
Born in Peru, Llerena-Quinn received her PhD in Counseling Psychology from Boston College. She now focuses almost exclusively on counseling Latino families; she feels that her role with these families is particularly important because of the unique cultural and language barriers they deal with. "The diversity that exists within and between Latino families defies any stereotyping," she says. "Although families share some collective experiences and the legacy of immigration, their modes of incorporation to the U.S. can be quite different."
Llerena-Quinn has brought her experiences from counseling multicultural families directly into her interactions with her HMS students. About seven years ago, she began teaching a course with other professors on culturally competent care that focuses on the importance of providing good care to those who may not speak the physician's language. The course was initially designed just for medical students, but recently Llerena-Quinn has been teaching it to the faculty in an effort to raise their awareness of cross-cultural differences. She's also held seminars on the subject here at Children's. "It is important to preserve a relationship with your patients," she says. "We have to learn how to notice, respond to and go beyond the differences."
In her role at the Center for Multi-Cultural Training in Psychology at the Boston Medical Center, Llerena-Quinn supervises psychology interns who come from a wide variety of cultural backgrounds.
With all of her seminars, classes and appointments, it's easy to see why there is no typical "day in the life" for Llerena-Quinn. Still, all of her work stresses the importance of multicultural awareness in a health care field that is changing dramatically. "The Latino population is growing, but the number of bilingual clinicians is not," she explains. "We need to understand the context that each family member is speaking from if we are to understand their meanings and really communicate."