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Climbing to New Heights

posted Jul 3, 2015, 6:13 PM by Ezra Lockhart
There certainly has been some landmarks I have achieved this month.

Completed All Coursework
I still am recovering from the whirlwind of this semester. I attended full-time university while working more than full-time and I tell you it was no easy task. I even had unexpected personal hardships thrown into the mix which made the entire process that much more difficultand that much more rewarding. I had to learn that not every paper was not going to be my best, but the effort was there. I was truly forced to put my time and project management skills to the test. I am uncertain what my overall marks will be; however, I am glad to have completed all the coursework for my Master's degree.

Dissertation Time: Ready, Set, Go!
Now that all my coursework is completed it is dissertation time! I met with my dissertation chair, Dr. Roger Stancliffe and he was excited about my topic and saw real potential for publication. In briefly explaining my topic to him it became clear that I had identified an emerging area of research without much supporting literature. He mentioned faculty from our department who just published this month a closely aligned paper. He gave me sound advice and as a result I plan to expand my topic. This way I can draw from a larger pool of literature, identify translational techniques and then provide a stronger argument as to why this service gap needs to be addressed as I provide direction and potential solutions. I am eager to get organized.

Promotion to Supervisor, Clinical Associates-Residential
I joined the leadership team at The Pathway Home with a promotion. I completed two 3-panel interviews as part of the process and was most intrigued that questions arose concerning my degree. I was asked if my degree was equivalent to a US-based Master's.

Is your degree equivalent to one in the US? I would like to address that topic.
Firstly, University of Sydney is a member of the Group of Eight. Think of this as the Antipodean Ivy League. This is a prestigious research institution ranked 37th in the world. To put that into perspective University of Sydney is tied on the world ranking system with University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). UCLA is ranked 9th in the Top 10 World's Most Reputable Universities.

Secondly, this degree–more specifically studying Health Sciences–affords me a multidisciplinary perspective which is paramount in the modern healthcare industry. The US healthcare system is changing and leaders at the forefront of that change will be required to draw on a knowledge base beyond any singular discipline. I invite you to read an earlier post of mine to get a better understanding of the multitude of disciplines, including psychology, which fall under this umbrella term. I found most of my time was spent studying international and Australian health policy and disability and human rights, although, this degree is designed for practitioners. The essence of this degree is to enhance practitioner standards by introducing international health policy, disability and human rights. Critically evaluating and analyzing international, Australian and US health policies provided me an opportunity to consider how my practice might be enhanced by the differing standards.

Thirdly, health policy in the US is currently a hot topic with the dramatic changes to Medicaid, Medicare and the newly implemented universal healthcare system. Since 1984, through the Medicare program, Australia has successfully coordinated a public- and private-health scheme. Studying with the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Sydney exposes me to a 30-year functional healthcare system and supplies me with not only a translatable example, but theoretical underpinnings and practical knowhow crucial to shaping healthcare policy in the US.

Lastly, an applicant with an international education provides many benefits to employers in the US. A poll of nearly 800 employers in the US and Canada found that employers put significant value on an overseas educational experience. Such experiences can help to enhance core competencies such as effective communication skills, team work and self motivation—all essential characteristics employers look for when hiring candidates. The benefits of international and transnational education are many—intercultural understanding, adapting in ways to be effective in other cultures, developing independent thinking, and fostering thinking as a global citizen, among others.

My new title is Supervisor of Clinical Associates-Residential. In my new role, I direct and oversee daily operations of therapeutic group homes for Alaska indigenous female youth who experience severe emotional disturbances, behavioral and chemical dependency issues. I have not worked with females of this age group and believe I will be challenged in this regard. It is my plan to design programmatic improvements, implement streamlining measures, and develop group life skills curriculum beyond supervising a milieu team. I am excited about my new role and cannot wait to start contributing to the leadership team. I plan to still conduct group and individual therapy while in this role. 

Less than 200 hours then CDC I
Concurrently, I have been working towards Chemical Dependency Counselor level I. I achieved the minimum 1 year experience requirement and am less than 200 hours from obtaining my CDC I. I am unsure just how long it will take me to log the last couple hundred hours; however, I will be developing curriculum alongside a well assembled team at The Pathway Home. With my recent promotion I will be able to access competency areas I am unfamiliar with (e.g., screening and intake, referrals, Quality Assurance Improvement activities). I look forward to collaborating with and learning from the other counselors. 

Climbing to New Heights
I will certainly still have opportunities to go on outdoor activities with the youth; however, not at the frequency of a Clinical Associate, my previous positive. Below is a recent example of the amazing adventures our youth get to go on. It is an inspirational and rewarding experience to see young men and women who dealt with so many hardships in their lives accomplish feats others wait a lifetime to even encounter. They made it to new heights!