Pamela Ressler, Stress Resources, LLC

Pam Ressler

"...the Prep Program has recognized the need for quality blending learning options for working professionals as well as students outside the Boston area."

Founder, Stress Resources
Adjunct Faculty, Public Health and Community Medicine, Tufts University
MS in Pain Research, Education and Policy (PREP), 2011

Tell us about your current job:
I am the founder of Stress Resources in Concord, MA, a firm devoted to building resilience in individuals and organizations through strategies of connection, communication, and compassion. I am now also an adjunct faculty member in the Pain Research, Education and Policy program at Tufts, teaching courses in ethical and sociocultural aspects of pain, palliative and end of life, as well as a new course in public health applications of mindfulness in the experience of chronic pain and illness. It is wonderful to have come full circle from student in the MS-PREP program to now a faculty member.

What inspired you to pursue an MS in Pain Research, Education and Policy?
After many years in healthcare as a nurse, I became frustrated with the overall lack of understanding and treatment of the complex nature of the many facets of pain, especially in reducing the suffering experienced by many with chronic illness. I saw a need to be able to bridge a gap in my knowledge in this ever expanding field of pain and suffering.

What drew you to the Tufts Program?
I chose Tufts’ Pain Research, Education and Policy Program because it offered the only multidisciplinary program of its kind in the United States. I was looking for a masters program that would allow me to explore this topic in an atmosphere of like minded professionals from other disciplines, learning and talking together, in collegial coordination and cooperation instead of competition. I was also drawn to the internationally known research and writing of Tufts faculty especially that of PREP founder, Dr. Dan Carr, and the fact that he was teaching faculty in the program. The small size of the classes and the low ratio of students to faculty was a big draw.

How did your Tufts degree help prepare you to work in the field?
When I entered the MS-PREP program I had an open mind as to where this degree would take me, yet I never envisioned the opportunities it would afford me. During the program I began academic research on an area that didn't exist 15 years ago—studying the psychosocial benefits of connection by communicating the experience of chronic pain and illness through blogging and social media.  This became a large focus of my work at Tufts and beyond and has resulted in journal publications, articles, interviews, conference presentations and consulting work on the intersection of chronic illness and social media. Tufts helped me to develop the research and analytical skills to expand my work on this topic. I am grateful to my Tufts faculty co-authors, Lisa Gualtieri, Libby Bradshaw and Ken Chui for working with me to develop and refine what started as my MS-PREP program capstone research into a published manuscript for the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

What advice do you have for prospective students?
Meet and talk to current students, alumni and faculty of the PREP program—whether in person or online, sit in on a class, or even better take a course to see what it is like before committing to a full master's program. I am very proud of the fact that the PREP program has recognized the need for quality blending learning options for working professionals as well as students outside of the Boston area.

My best advice is to think big in this program. This is not your typical masters program. The Pain Research, Education and Policy program allows you to find your passion under the ever expanding umbrella of "pain" and become a leader in your particular area.  This program trains students to be leaders and innovators in addressing the impact of pain on society and the individual, and connects you with those who can help guide you in your journey to innovation and leadership.