“A real game-changer” – Janine Lord reflects on RDN’s recruitment support services
12th March 2021
Janine Lord, Director/Principal Psychologist, Shoalhaven Psychology
Describe your practice and your role:
Our practice, Shoalhaven Psychology, is the leading group practice of professional psychologists in Nowra, Berry, Shellharbour, Kiama and up to Wollongong, and we’re really proud of the service we offer. We are here in the community, for the community, opening our doors six days a week from 8am to 9pm and working around the clock to ensure no one is turned away and everyone can access the care they need, when they need it.
What’s this last year been like for you? What have been some of the challenges for your practice?
We’re in bushfire region. The summer of 2019-2020 was harrowing for everyone living here; people really thought they were going to die. It was tough for us as individuals, and almost tougher for us as professional psychologists. We wanted to do everything we could to help our community, so we just continued to add to our workload, but it is difficult to hear such raw trauma and it took its toll on us.
Throughout 2020 demand for our services continued to grow exponentially and we struggled to meet demand. Trauma triggers trauma, so when COVID hit, our disaster-damaged community were particularly vulnerable.
The migration of city-dwellers seeking a sea change has compounded certain stress-factors: the population has exploded, property prices have soared, there are few to no rentals available.
Have you been able to rest and recharge?
As we staggered towards the end of the year, rather than our team feeling we could collapse and switch off over the festive period, we went on to high alert: we could see levels of anxiety within our community rise along with the temperature as everyone desperately hoped there would be no more fires. Those hot, still days were the worst.
So although we’ve entered into 2021 full of optimism, we’re not fully recharged. We need more rest, more balance but to make this possible we need a bigger team to share the load.
What have been some of the challenges of recruiting psychologists to your practice?
In the past, people were reluctant to move this far. At most they would go to Wollongong and commute from there. Or they set up sole practices open just a few times a week. But our community needs more round the clock services.
Now, with the population surge, the challenge is finding a place to live. Rent prices have gone through the roof and there is next to no availability. It makes it tricky for people to move here.
How has RDN helped?
RDN has been amazing. They’ve been so active in their recruitment for us, and thanks to them we’re starting three new psychologists this year. It’s a complete gamechanger.
RDN’s recruitment support is exceptional. Their ads get top of page and they always manage to attract applicants. When it comes to shortlisting, they do an even better job at selecting applicants than I do. The candidates they send to us arrive with relevant experience, well-briefed and bursting with enthusiasm. They’re truly the best.
RDN funding has also been a life-line for us. In addition to helping us access National Disaster Recovery funding, we have also benefited from bursary funding which has given our team access to relevant training and upskilling. This helps us as a small business. We can’t pay the same as metropolitan areas but this financing provides an extra boost, offering recruits support with relocation costs and professional development, all of which can be crippling for a small practice such as ours. We have high standards of professional development that need to be met each year, but this can be prohibitively expensive. The financial support from RDN makes a real difference.
What has this meant for you and your practice?
By reinforcing our team with new, high-quality psychologists, we’re able to meet the growing needs of our community whilst also maintaining our high standards. It’s enabled us to develop training programs for provisional and newly registered psychologists, supporting psychologists to stay local or move to learn in a regional area. I’m hoping it will also mean we can pace ourselves better: we need to be in good health ourselves if we want to improve the health of our patients.
Any other tips for practice owners out there?
Our business has increased to a team of nine plus administrative staff in just two years. The biggest thing I’ve learnt is how to run a business and RDN has helped me enormously with this. I had no business training – I’m a psychologist – but the access to mentoring they have provided has really honed my skills. This has been essential to our growth. So my advice would be to get their support!