One of the most challenging tasks in behavioral health today is the hiring and nurturing of excellent staff. Particularly in a rural area like Taos county, hiring and maintaining clinical staff who are motivated to work in our region is difficult. Services for their children and the abundance of jobs for partners or spouses makes recruitment difficult. We at Taos Behavioral Health have tried a number of ways to advertise and recruit. Our experience shows us that some hirees are not comfortable with our cultural strengths and challenges if they have lived in a very different environment. Some are only available to provide service via zoom or other the technologies and such methods are not appropriate for a number of our clients—especially youth.
One recruitment technique which is proving quite promising for a number of goals is the recruitment of interns—students in their final year of undergraduate study in family therapy or counseling or social work. Others are pursuing their master’s in one of these same fields and preparing to sit for a licensing exam after completing a more extensive internship. We have developed relationships with a number of universities which provide education in these fields and when possible, staff attend work/study fair days on their campuses to describe our programs.
This fall we have welcomed 12 interns to TBH. They are studying at Highlands University, Western New Mexico University, Lesley University in Massachusetts, New Mexico State University and the University of New Mexico. In the past we have also welcomed interns from Adams State University and Prescot College in Arizona. At TBH they receive a stipend or hourly wages to help with their living expenses while here.
Interns are first interviewed extensively by TBH staff and their special interests and skills are identified. We then attempt to place them with one of our seven programs which seems to be a good fit. For example, we have an intern with strength in music therapy who has been placed at the high school. Often interns will express a preference by ages—perhaps youth or adults. The programs with intern placements now are Out Patient Therapy, the Family Center, Questa/Red River School district, Familia y Mundo after school program, and Penasco School district. One special strength of the TBH staff is that a number of individuals are in their second careers. This is also true of the interns, thus we have staff with a range of ages, strengthening our options for treatment.
There are federally funded programs which provide interns with debt relief for educational programs if they work with a NFP agency such as TBH. Our requirement is a two year commitment of working with us. By that time the individual and TBH know each other well and we try hard to recruit those who are interested. In this way we have hired and hope to continue hire more interns when the match is strong. Thus we are “growing our own” and the community is well served by new hires with new skills and enthusiasm about working here. Taos Behavioral Health has the largest staff of credentialed and licensed behavioral workers in Northern New Mexico.
We can be reached at 575-758-4297, at 105 Bertha in Taos for scheduled appointments and at http://Taosbehavioralhealth.org.
Mary McPhail Gray is the board chair of TBH and can be reached at 575-779-3126 or email@example.com