Karen Christian opens private pscyhiatric practice
December 4, 2017
Karen Christian decided she needed a break from work, so she left her job as a psychiatrist for Intermountain Healthcare and spent time to "pause and reflect." After 18 months, she called it – she was ready to go back to work.
Christian, who has worked in the field for more than 30 years, said she is excited to serve patients again. Her private practice officially opened on Dec. 1 at 2720 Homestead Road. She shares the space with Melissa Lopez-Larson, who will open her own practice and begin taking patients after she leaves Intermountain Healthcare in January.
With her new practice, Christian hopes to serve patients of all ages and situations, but also to normalize the idea of regular mental health checkups for those who are not having major mental health issues.
"(I want) to help people begin to think of mental health as something we have to do an evaluation and maintenance on," she said. "How do we look at this in an integrated way to help your mental health, just like we do your physical health?"
Traditionally, most people come to her during a mental health crisis, such as depression, extreme anxiety or an eating disorder. She said that having more consistent visits could help decrease the frequency of those crisis moments.
Christian, who owned a private practice in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and Cincinnati, said those points in her career were when she was the happiest because she was able to treat a variety of patients rather than stay specialized. When she moved to Park City in 2008, she worked at Primary Children's Medical Center as a staff physician and director of outpatient psychiatry before transitioning to Intermountain HealthCare. She finally felt it was time to return to owning a practice of her own.
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"Working at a private practice, I get to see children, adolescents, adults and the elderly," she said. "It's a lot more fun for me at this point in my career."
Lopez-Larson, who knew Christian from working in the field together, said she is also looking forward to serving a variety of patients. Plus, she is ready to focus on integrative medicine techniques for treatments such as exercise, a healthy diet and natural supplements.
Christian said she is happy to have a colleague with her as she opens her business because they will be able to collaborate and refer patients to each other.
"Our practices are very complimentary," Lopez-Larson said.
Since there is such a high demand for psychiatrists, Christian hopes to be able to help those who today have to wait four to six months before being seen.
Christian said that Park City is a great location because there are not many psychiatrists here, but also because there is an increasing awareness of mental health problems. The community is on the right path, but there is still more awareness and education that needs to take place. She helped start the Developed Psychiatry Clinic at the People's Health Clinic, where she continues to volunteer today.
After her break, she said that she is returning to work with more "energy and enthusiasm" and is ready to educate and treat everyone she can.
"I really miss what it means to help people feel happier and better and be more engaged with their children and lead a more fulfilling life," she said. "I feel so lucky that I found a passion that, after all these years, I still love."
Seeing peoples' lives change is what has kept Christian motivated over time. Some moments stand out in particular, such as the letter she received from the mother of a patient she treated. The young lady, who was in the in-patient psychiatric unit when Christian worked with her, had since grown and was getting married. She hopes to continue to have similar experiences in her new practice.
"It was nice that after all those years somebody said, 'Thank you. I think it was really pivotal and I want you to know that she is doing well,'" she said. "That means a lot, because you usually see it in the moment or in six months. You see people get better. But to know that years later, that is what I think is really gratifying."
Karen Christian , M.D.
2720 Homestead Rd. Suite 10