Hilary Bekker, Alumni, School of Psychology

Hilary Bekker

My current job role is Professor of Medical Decision Making, School of Medicine, University of Leeds. I train health professional (UG, PG, CPD) in using psychology to understand health behaviours and treatment decisions when delivering care and carry out research to develop and evaluate interventions that help people make treatment choices that suit their lives.

I got into my current profession through studying for a BSc in psychology, with a placement year as a cognitive behaviour therapist (Middlesex Polytechnic), took a job as a researcher exploring how people make decisions to have a genetic test, studied for an MSc in Health Psychology (UCL, London), took another research job exploring general practitioners’ attitudes to mammography screening, studied for a PhD exploring what interventions help women makes in decisions about the prenatal diagnosis (in Leeds Psychology Department), took another research job investigating which information interventions help patients make informed decisions about treatment options, took a lectureship teaching people about health psychology as part of a health sciences degree in York for 18 months, took a lectureship in Leeds teaching medical students about psychology, kept researching how to help health professionals support patients to make good treatment decisions.

A degree from the School of Psychology has benefited me in the workplace as it provided the framework, expertise and inter-disciplinary contacts enabling me to undertake an innovative set of studies that contributed to the new field of patient decision aid research, and application to shared decision making in health care settings.

If I could, the advice I would give to myself now whilst studying would be to seek out good mentors to help you navigate the workplace as you progress your career and experience many lifestyle changes.