Editor’s note: The Mentoring Spotlight highlights the Society for Health Psychology’s Health Psych Connections program with experiences from mentor-mentee pairs and articles on effective mentoring. The Health Psych Connections program is open to all SfHP members at any career stage post-doctorate. For more information, visit https://societyforhealthpsychology.org/resources/connections/ .
Kristi K. Phillips , Psy.D
I practice at a high volume, multi-specialty, rural community medical center in Minnesota. My practice in the field of Health Psychology is both rewarding and challenging. I work one-to-one with clients, seeing firsthand their courage and determination to make their lives better. Yet working in a rural community means limited networking opportunities with other rural psychologists facing similar issues within their states.
When I read about the Health Psychology Connection Program on the Div. 38 Society for Health Psychology’s (SfHP) website, I knew it would be a great opportunity to connect with another health psychologist to discuss mutual career-related interests and share about current initiatives. After submitting my request, I was pleasantly surprised how quickly Dr. Zeeshan Butt, Coordinator of the Health Psychology Connections Program, responded to me and how much time and consideration he put into trying to assess who might be the most helpful connection.
First, I was introduced to Dr. Emily Selby-Nelson, who is the lead Behavioral Health Practitioner and Behavioral Health Quality Improvement Coordinator at Cabin Creek Health Systems, a clinical assistant professor at West Virginia University School of Medicine, Charleston, and Clinical Adjunct Faculty at Marshall University. Dr. Selby-Nelson is quite accomplished as an early career psychologist involved in a variety of professional service/leadership positions at the state and national levels, including serving as the Chair of the Committee on Early Career Psychologists and Rural Health Co-Coordinator in the West Virginia Psychological Association and the chair of the APA Committee on Rural Health. I found her to be gracious with her time and willing to collaborate on many career-related topics. She was very encouraging, and served as a wealth of information on how I might get more involved, which allowed me to make specific plans for getting involved in regional and national organizations.
Next, I was introduced to Dr. William Robiner, Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics at University of Minnesota Medical Center (UMMC). He provides psychological consultation across several interdisciplinary teams throughout UMMC and is involved with diverse research projects. He is involved in a variety of professional service and leadership positions at the local, state, and national levels, and has been recognized by his peers with numerous prestigious awards. Dr. Robiner recommended many resources for further exploration and opportunities for networking with other health psychologists in Minnesota. I am now looking into how to attend regional networking events.
Participating in the Health Psychology Connection Program has been a positive experience and I encourage my colleagues to consider joining this unique program as a mentee, mentor, or both!
Emily M. Selby-Nelson, Psy.D.
I was honored and excited when Dr. Zee Butt invited me to participate as a mentor in APA’s Division 38 (SfHP) Health Psych Connections professional networking program. I have been extremely lucky to have received excellent mentorship throughout my educational and professional years; all of which was provided by experts in the field of Health Psychology. As an early career psychologist, mentorship has been invaluable in helping me determine which endeavors to pursue as I’ve built my career in rural integrated primary care and become engaged in leadership. The field of integrated primary care is complex, unique, and exciting, but can be further intensified by the challenges and rewards of rural practice. Continued mentorship has been essential for my professional development, has prevented burnout, and has enhanced my opportunities and successes.
My experiences mentoring others have been equally rewarding over the years. It has been my goal to pass on the lessons and insights gained from my mentors through my training of students, interns, and new professionals in the rural health system in which I work, as well as through networking in my leadership roles at the state and national level. The Health Psych Connections professional networking program was a new approach to mentorship for me. I was excited by the opportunity to contribute to this project and share my dedication to rural practice and leadership with a new colleague.
I was asked to reach out to Dr. Kristi Phillips, a psychologist working in rural Minnesota. We were matched because of our shared professional interests in Rural Health Psychology and leadership involvement. Dr. Phillips was interested in learning more about ways to be involved in professional service at the state and national level, particularly as they might be related to her interests in rural psychology. Our networking focused on sharing my experiences in rural integrated primary healthcare practice and leadership service in my State Provincial Territorial Association (SPTA) and the American Psychological Association (APA). Dr. Phillips was particularly interested in learning more about the APA Committee on Rural Health, for which I currently serve as chair. I shared details of the nomination and election process, which can initially seem complex and somewhat intimidating to individuals new to leadership. However, I wanted to share how approachable this process can be, and encourage Dr. Phillips to consider future leadership involvement, as I would others. Service on the CRH has been one of my favorite and most exciting extraprofessional experiences to date. It’s been an honor to be able to collaborate with rural health experts and participate in projects and advocacy that have the potential to impact rural health issues across the U.S. I also shared information about possible state leadership activities available, including serving as a Rural Health Coordinator, which is a psychologist who is a member of a grassroots network that works at the state, provincial, territorial, psychological association level to advocate for access to mental health services for rural and remote populations. Additionally, we discussed her general professional interests and how those might fit with various leadership opportunities. I was very impressed by Dr. Phillip’s passion and commitment toward progressing the field of rural health, to ultimately improve the quality and retention of rural behavioral health services. I hope to have the opportunity to interact with her again in the future.
Although this mentorship and networking arrangement was brief, it was rewarding and mutually beneficial. The process was well-organized and easy to achieve. The time and energy needed to fulfill my mentorship role was minimal and stress free. I greatly enjoyed the opportunity to meet and learn from a fellow rural health psychologist. I strongly encourage others to either volunteer as a mentor or pursue this opportunity as a mentee.
William N. Robiner, Ph.D., ABPP, LP
When Zee Butt asked whether I would be willing to be a Division 38 Society for Health Psychology (SfHP) Health Psych Connections Program mentor to another health psychologist in Minnesota, it sounded like a great idea. Within a couple of weeks we had connected by phone. Both of us thought that the Connections program for SfHP was an innovative way of networking and introducing health psychologists to each other. Hopefully it could be the beginning of a more enduring collegial connection.
It was a pleasure to meet Kristi through the SfHP Health Psych Connections program. I learned that she is doing important work in a multispecialty, rural setting, providing clinical and health psychology services. She is looking to get more involved in health psychology organizationally, to expand her network, and is using her clinical skills in collaboration with various health professionals in her area. It was a pleasure to learn how broadly health psychology has moved beyond major, urban medical centers into primary care and specialty care in diverse settings including in rural communities. During our call, we discussed our respective activities and a range of opportunities in which she could become more engaged in Minnesota, such as through the state psychological association.
As a mentee of William Schofield of the University of Minnesota, one of the founders of Division 38, the idea of mentoring other health psychologists impresses me as a wonderful way for meeting and supporting new members to the specialty. It is also a personally meaningful contribution. I think Schofield would be delighted that health psychology has come so far. I felt compelled to become involved in appreciation of the mentoring I have been fortunate to receive throughout my career. During the last few years, I have become increasingly involved in mentoring activities, both of psychologists and of physicians, as the director of the career mentoring program in the Division of General Internal Medicine of the University of Minnesota Medical School.
So far, Kristi and I have spoken just once. I am looking forward to future calls and meeting her in person, possibly at a local SfHP networking event, or some other health psychology gathering. Thanks to Zee and the SfHP for bringing health psychologists together.