KU School of Medicine–Wichita
1010 N. Kansas
Wichita, KS, 67214
January 25, 2019
By Joseph Stumpe
Ryan Schroeder, Psy.D., traces his interest in psychology to high school, when he felt himself making a difference as a "Big Brother" to a boy from a low socioeconomic-status family.
"From that point, I really could see the positive movement in him," Schroeder said.
Schroeder's initial focus on child psychology shifted to clinical neuropsychology, but he's never lost his interest in helping people or in discovering how their minds work. He practices at the University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita and serves as an associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences. He's an experienced clinician and prolific researcher, and he has embraced administrative duties associated with the clinic, too.
Schroeder grew up in a small South Dakota town, although with 3,500 people, "it was the largest in quite a ways." He earned a psychology degree from South Dakota State University, honing in on neuropsychology as a specialty thanks in part to an influential professor and mentor.
"I really connected with it," he said. "I felt there wasn't enough biology in (child psychology)." Neuropsychology, on the other hand, "is kind of the emotional aspect of psychology and the biology aspect of neurology coming together."
Schroeder went on to earn master's and doctoral degrees in clinical psychology with a concentration in neuropsychology from Argosy University in Minnesota's Twin Cities. He served a clinical psychology internship at the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System in Little Rock, Arkansas, then completed his post-doctoral clinical neuropsychology fellowship at KU Wichita in 2012.
He met his wife, Stephany, who's a social worker, while in Arkansas. The couple have a son, who's almost 3 and a big fan of Tanganyika Wildlife Park in Goddard, Schroeder said.
Most of Schroeder's professional time is spent conducting outpatient neuropsychological evaluations at KU Wichita as well as inpatient evaluations at several hospitals in the region. He's not a therapist. Rather, his work is diagnosing a patient's neuropsychological condition and fashioning a care plan.
"It's assessing memory change and looking at the effects of brain injury or disease," he said.
"Cures" aren't always an option, he noted, but treatment is still important.
"There will be some patients that will improve. For other patients, we plan a treatment that will hopefully slow down the effects (of neurodegenerative conditions) and make sure the quality of life is as strong as it can be."
For patients with dementia, that might be discussing possible medication options, reviewing modifiable risk factors such as diet and exercise, and coordinating care. For a patient experiencing a non-progressive loss of memory, it could be discussing techniques to help compensate for weaknesses. In addition to interviewing and testing patients, Schroeder consults MRIs of the brain.
And he keeps several models of the brain in his office to show patients just what is happening inside their own heads - showing them, for instance, what areas of the brain are changed by a stroke or blocked blood vessel.
"I use my brain models to connect with patients," he said.
Schroeder generally helps supervise an intern and two post-doctoral fellows at KU Wichita and also teaches an advanced level psychology course in neuropsychological assessment at Wichita State University.
He is an active committee member and coordinator within multiple national-level neuropsychological organizations. Earlier this year, he became the Early Career Neuropsychologist Representative for the State of Kansas. Within KU Wichita, he became the Neuropsychology Team Director for an interdisciplinary conference this year and has served as director of the psychiatry residency program's neuropsychology rotation program since 2014. Schroeder said he enjoys administrative tasks and "watching our young (students, residents, fellows and interns) develop into skilled professionals." His work in mentoring younger professionals was recently recognized by KU School of Medicine, as he won the Executive Dean's Achievement Award for Mentoring Post-Docs earlier this year.
Schroeder devotes a significant amount of time to research, which led to him receiving the 2018 Early Career Award from the National Academy of Neuropsychology. He's served as principal or sub-investigator on eight funded research projects, contributed to dozens of journal articles and books and made presentations across the country. His scholarly work is highly cited by other professionals in the field, and his articles have been highlighted by journals and given awards.
Schroeder said he might not have been a natural writer when he started, but added, "The more you do it, the stronger it becomes."KU School of Medicine-Wichita