Amy (Burleson) Sullivan, Psy.D., ’99
Mellen Center for Multiple Sclerosis
By Beth Eberth
Amy (Burleson) Sullivan doesn’t have to look far to connect the dots between the camaraderie and teamwork experienced on the St. Bonaventure women’s basketball team and her career as a psychologist.
Sullivan said the principles she learned as a student-athlete at St. Bonaventure continue to guide her on a new team, a group of specialists at Cleveland Clinic’s Mellen Center who treat people with multiple sclerosis.
“St. Bonaventure really prepares you for the real world. I was a well-rounded student athlete and learned how to focus and be a team player. Those are values I have put to work in my own clinical practice, and things I teach the students I mentor. I think the world of Bonaventure,” said Sullivan, a member of the class of 1999.
One of the top four medical institutions in the nation, Cleveland Clinic has broken down its services into institutes and centers, where interdisciplinary teams work toward the complete treatment of a patient. So in the Mellen Center for Multiple Sclerosis, a patient can not only receive his MRI, but also see his neurologist, occupational therapist, physical therapist and other specialists.
MS is a chronic and disabling disease that attacks the central nervous system.
“A lot of my patients struggle with chronic pain, and staying on track in terms of treatment,” explained Sullivan.
She helps them work through those issues while they learn how to adapt their illness to their career and home life. She is also able to utilize her athletic background and go to the gym with her patients as they undergo physical therapy.
An undergraduate psychology major with a concentration in chemistry, Sullivan has always had an interest in health care, “but I can’t stand the blood,” she joked.
“I come from a family of 11 dentists. I knew I wanted to do something in health care; the best way to do that was to combine health care and psychology,” she said.
The impact of St. Bonaventure’s faculty on Sullivan began her first day on campus and continues today.
The basketball player from southern Ohio had gone on recruiting visits at several schools, but fell in love with Bona’s when she walked into the Reilly Center. She knew she’d made her decision after attending a class taught by Fr. Peter Schneible, O.F.M., assistant professor of biology.
“He asked a lot of questions about what I wanted to do with my career. There was no other school that matched the warmth I felt there,” she said.
Sullivan credits Dr. Robin Valeri, professor of psychology, with helping her develop her research skills, necessary today to administer a research program where she looks at the outcomes of her patients.
“She helped guide my research foundation,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan earned a doctorate in psychology from Argosy University in Atlanta, completed an internship at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, and a residency in Health Psychology/Pain Management at Cleveland Clinic.
(Beth Eberth, email@example.com, is director of university communications at St. Bonaventure.)