Dr. Joseph Francis
Director of Clinical Training
Assistant Professor (2007)
- Clinical Neuropsychology
- Personality Assessment
- Primary Care Psychology
- Substance Abuse
I was raised in a large Catholic family in rural areas of western New York and western Pennsylvania. Church traditions and family unity were bedrocks of my development and continue to sustain me today. My initial interest in psychology was the lure of being able to explain why people do what they do. I also wanted to learn the extent to which behavior could be predicted and ultimately changed. In my undergraduate program at Gannon University I studied psychology, philosophy and biology. From there I entered a master’s program in Clinical Psychology at Indiana University of Pennsylvania where I was exposed to the core elements of clinical psychology and developed a strong interest in clinical neuropsychology. I completed a Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology from Florida Tech. While there I was able to concentrate more on neuropsychology and worked in an inpatient psychiatric service throughout my training.
I selected an internship with the U.S. Navy at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. I was newly married and we were expecting our first child by the completion of my internship and the cross country drive to our first duty station in San Diego. I directed an outpatient clinic serving primarily the recruit commands for the Navy and Marine Corps. I had hoped to begin a fellowship in neuropsychology by the conclusion of that tour, but God indicated that other plans were about to unfold. The pickings were good at that time, so we decided on a tour in southern Spain. Our second daughter was born by then, and we all enjoyed living within Andalucía and being able to travel in Europe over the next two years. I worked in the naval hospital’s mental health unit and was the clinical director of a 20-bed substance abuse unit. I also began teaching undergraduate psychology courses for the University of Maryland’s European Division.
Our journey then took an abrupt change when the tour was cut short and I was asked to be a consultant to a special warfare command in Virginia Beach. In addition to the culture shock of returning to suburban America, this was to be my first and only non-medical tour as a psychologist in the Navy. After learning how to best juggle sometimes competing roles as a professional consultant and team member, I was given a real-world education as to how Navy and Army special forces performed their roles and interacted with numerous government agencies. I had opportunities to travel a great deal and participate in many activities uncommon for psychologists. In addition, I received specialized training in areas as diverse as crisis management, hostage negotiation, survival training and performance enhancement.
Our prayers were answered at the completion of that tour and I was granted a two-year fellowship in clinical neuropsychology at the University of Virginia. Following an outstanding experience under the tutelage of renowned mentors, I was transferred to the Naval Medical Center in Portsmouth, Va., where I completed the second half of my Navy career. My initial roles at the medical center were as staff neuropsychologist and student/intern/resident supervision on inpatient and cognitive assessment rotations. As a collateral duty, I directed the region’s “Special Psychiatric Rapid Intervention Team” that responded to regional and national crises, ranging from unexpected deaths to tragedies such as TWA 800 and the bombing of the USS Cole. Within the medical center, I next became the department head of the Substance Abuse Rehabilitation Program that included an 80-bed residential unit and three outpatient clinics. By 2003 I returned to chair the psychology department and its APA internship program. I remained an active neuropsychologist, but also increased my knowledge of executive medicine. By then I had been co-authoring peer-reviewed articles, book chapters and presentations in the areas of mild head injury, ethics in neuropsychology and substance abuse. My final project in the Navy was to develop an integration program in which psychologists were trained to provide interventions and consult with family physicians, nurses and physician assistants within the primary care clinic setting. Before retiring from active service in November 2006, I was able to deploy in service of Operation Iraqi Freedom aboard the carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt for a brief period and with the U.S. Marines for six months at Al Taqqadum in Iraq.
God has blessed me with my family and career. I am grateful to many supportive individuals throughout my life and now thank God and Regent University for the opportunity to participate in the mission of its doctoral psychology program. I happily continue to learn from my mentors, colleagues, students and patients. I am currently scheduled to teach Biological Bases of Behavior, Personality Assessment, Neuropsychology and Practica Courses, and I hope to continue applied research in the areas of clinical neuropsychological and personality assessment.