by Dennis Ray Kinder, Ph.D., HSPP
A number of months ago, at a CRG leadership retreat, there was discussion about how to improve the cooperation, collaboration and growth of the professional staff. One of the key elements that emerged from that discussion was a proposal to institute a system of mentoring for all providers of professional services at CRG. This took the form of each provider being assigned a mentor with whom they would meet at least twice yearly and more often should an individual provider request it or at the suggestion of the mentor. There was forethought to the assignment of each mentor with an attempt to assign a mentor in the same professional field or a related field and with the same amount or greater experience. The purpose being, of course, to match individuals in a manner that enhanced the mentees’ growth. The four co-owners of CRG (Dr. Julie Steck, Dr. Dennis Ray Kinder, Dr. Joshua Lowinsky and Dr. Jason Rowland) all felt strongly enough about the benefits of mentoring for the staff that they agreed to commit the time to fill the mentor roles themselves.
CRG’s leadership team has recognized over the 22 years of our existence that the continued professional growth of its staff is critical to providing the quality level of care our clients deserve. It’s not just the children that we serve that need to grow; in actuality, we all need to continue to grow and enhance our skills. With this goal in mind we wanted to provide some structure to the mentoring process but also allow for an informal and relaxed atmosphere in which it could occur. The professional staff at CRG has a tremendous amount of experience at providing mental health services; thus, our team’s cumulative knowledge is immense. The challenge is how to share that knowledge among the group members and especially challenging is how to share it with a new provider joining the group. The mentoring process described above is one means to do that but it is not the only means to that end.
Another way that CRG attempts to share this professional knowledge is through informal staffing and a more formalized staffing process. It is common at CRG for one client to see or have been seen by multiple providers. For instance, a child may come in for an assessment consisting of a psychoeducational evaluation by a school psychologist, supervised by a psychologist and resulting in a referral to one of the medical providers at CRG for medication management. Typically, the above professionals will look for opportunities to staff the case with each other by sharing their observations, possible diagnoses and synopsis of the case. At least once a month there is a formal staffing lunch where cases are presented with feedback from multiple providers about the case with suggestions for treatment planning. The staffing lunch is open to all staff members at CRG, thus providing opportunity for feedback that comes from multiple disciplines and viewpoints.
The feedback from mentors and mentees at CRG has been positive. The formal and informal staffing processes described above have proven over time to be very beneficial to the “mentoring” and professional growth of our staff. Those of us who have been fortunate enough to have a “mentor” in our professional growth either here at CRG or in our past realize the tremendous value that it brings. I stated earlier that I believe we all need to continue to grow but, to truly feel fulfilled, we need to be fostering growth in others. Mentoring provides a wonderful means to that end.