Why did you decide to run for the Board of Directors as an Early Career Psychologist?
Dr. Clark: I have benefited from a number of people who dedicated their time, expertise, and words of wisdom in helping to shape my career. Therefore, I am always looking for an opportunity to pay that forward. While I have always been involved in my state psychological association, the Board of Directors for the National Register seemed to present a very different experience for me to contribute on a national scale.
Dr. Shelton: At my Doctoral graduation ceremony, the President of the University gave a charge to my class, “Do not be content to sit on the sidelines of life. Get in the game!” That phrase resonated with me. Any time I see an opportunity to influence positive change, I want to be a participant in that change rather than a spectator. I have been very active in my State Psychological Association, and was excited to discover an opportunity at the national level.
As an Early Career Psychologist, what strengths do you think you bring to the Board?
Dr. Shelton: I believe ECPs have a fresh perspective that, when combined with the wisdom and experience of seasoned Board Members can be transformative. In this new and challenging era of healthcare, it is important to have junior and senior professionals working together to strengthen psychology’s presence in the changing healthcare system while advocating for practitioners and the patients we serve.
Dr. Clark: I hoped that I bring enthusiasm, an ability to work well within a group, and a true spirit of moving the organization forward with innovative ideas. It is great to be able to share an ECP perspective.
What challenges do you anticipate as an Early Career Psychologist serving in this capacity?
Dr. Clark: Because I do not have experience serving on a Board at this level, I think it is difficult to strike a balance between being eager to make suggestions and changes and being paralyzed/too focused on minute details, because I realize that these changes impact a number of people. I have gained perspective on why change seems difficult. In addition, to know where you want to go, you have to have some idea about where you’ve been. I am learning the history of the National Register, as I go along, which can be a challenge as well.
Dr. Shelton: The addition of two ECPs to the Board composition is sure to change dynamics, hopefully in positive ways. However, even positive change can be stressful at the organizational level. Sometimes the enthusiasm of ECPs to take immediate action towards change can be naïve in some ways and needs to be tempered with patience and guidance. I am counting on the more senior board members to balance the dynamic in this way.
You are more than halfway through your first year of a four–year term. What has surprised you most about the experience of serving on the Board?
Dr. Shelton: The welcoming and gracious receptivity of the more senior Board Members has surprised and impressed me the most. Their willingness to mentor while simultaneously encouraging active participation has been quite inspiring. It is also fascinating to see how different perspectives and the various personalities influence the dialog of the Board about important issues and result in a cohesive and comprehensive position that is well examined, challenged, and ultimately shaped into an action that can have far reaching implications on a broad scale.
Dr. Clark: I am surprised about how much I’ve gained from fellow Board members and how many of these experiences apply to my everyday work environment. To meet and serve with a group of people, who bring with them diversity of experiences and strengths, and to get to know each of them personally has been an unforeseen benefit. The experiences of working with others on a common goal though, is something that I encounter every day. Observing and learning from others on the Board has given me new perspectives and tools for working with similar situations in other settings.
What would you tell other Early Career Psychologists who are considering applying or running for a similar position?
Dr. Clark: I would strongly encourage other ECPs to become involved on a national level. I truly believe that the needs of ECPs can only be addressed if they are vocalized in a setting where change can happen. Secondly, I would say to ECPs that you don’t have to wait in order to get involved in matters that impact our profession. I think we often times think that others who are in mid-career or late career are either taking care of things or think that because we do not have 10 years or more into the profession that we are limited in what we can contribute. If you have a service mentality, I think these experiences will be worth your investment of time.
Dr. Shelton: Do it! ECPs have a tremendous amount to offer. I think sometimes being a relative newcomer to the field can contribute to feelings of uncertainty about the value of one’s contributions. While it is true that ECP’s do not have many years of experience behind them relative to more seasoned clinicians, we bring our own set of strengths to the table in the form of innovative ideas, flexible thinking, energy and enthusiasm, and an understanding of the current milieu we are functioning within. Our sets of strengths are totally different, yet equally as important, as the strengths of those with more years of practice and the wisdom that accompanies that experience.
Since 2007, Dr. Clark has been a member of the psychology faculty at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. Dr. Clark received her PhD in counseling psychology from the University of Southern Mississippi in 2005. She completed her postdoctoral fellowship at University of Mississippi Medical Center in the department of family medicine. Dr. Clark is President-Elect of the Mississippi Psychological Association. She has been credentialed by the National Register since 2010.
Dr. Shelton received her PsyD in clinical health psychology from the Spalding University in 2005. She was appointed Chief Resident at Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine for her internship year. She then completed two postdoctoral fellowships at the Medical College of Georgia; one in medical psychology and the other in behavioral medicine and also earned a Master of Public Health degree before becoming faculty in the Department of Pediatrics and Department of Psychiatry and Health Behavior. Dr. Shelton's primary academic affiliation is with the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Additionally, she has a private practice, Psychological Wellness Group, in her hometown of Paducah, KY; and is also the chair of the Kentucky Psychological Association Communication Committee. She has been credentialed by the National Register since 2007.