I really like my job. I have never regretted choosing to spend my career as a psychologist in a very rural area. I work at a regional mental health center, one of eight in my state. Every center has psychologists and other mental health professionals. At the present time, there are 12 openings for psychologists at these centers, and it is extremely hard to fill positions. I find this hard to understand, as I can’t think of a better situation in which to practice. One has the support of colleagues, professional autonomy, people who do all the billing, good benefits, and the opportunity to treat just about every mental health condition in the DSM-5. Heck, at many agencies you can even get your student loans repaid through a federal program to entice professionals to under served areas. We have one opening for a psychologist at my agency. I am the only full-time psychologist there.
Due to historical factors too complicated to go into, the supervisor of psychologists at my agency serves two agencies, my agency and the one in Bismarck, necessitating that person drive 200 miles round trip once a week to oversee things out here, and spending one night in our town. Several other administrators do the same thing. My supervisor recently quit to move to another center, so my agency and the one in Bismarck are currently without a supervising psychologist. I applied for the supervisor’s job and interviewed for it last week.
The supervisor’s position is mainly administrative. There are hours worth of administrative meetings at each agency and I would have to go to all of them at both places if I were in the supervisor’s position. I would have to spend one night and two days a week in Bismarck, driving 200 miles round trip, often in poor weather. I would also not be able to see many, if any, clients, and would have no time to do psychological evaluations. The pay isn’t that much higher. Since I am the only full-time psychologist at my agency, there would be virtually no psychology services there. Why on earth did I apply for the supervisor’s position?
I am at the point where I don’t want someone younger and less experienced than I am telling me what to do. I want to be able to exercise some power in decision-making and policy. I interviewed in Bismarck for the position last week. Everyone was kind and congenial, all people I knew and had worked with before. It struck me that I was the oldest person in the room. I was the only applicant for the job. After a weekend of thinking and discussion with Husband, I withdrew my application.
I decided that power and control are pretty illusory, that I can tolerate a supervisor younger than I am, even if they turn out to be a knucklehead, and that I would go bats sitting through endless meetings. I want to see clients and do evaluations. The folks who interviewed me were very understanding. It would be endless headaches for them to make sure that the services I provide now were continued if I had accepted the new position. I noticed an instant reduction in stress and heaviness after I made my decision to stay as I am. Now if we can only convince young professionals that a rural practice can be even more satisfying than city life with its amenities.
What factors are important to you in making your work satisfying, or at least tolerable?