Dr Simon Rice MAPS MCCLP
I was fortunate enough to find an inspiring and supportive research supervisor when I started postgraduate study. With encouragement, I took on a clinical PhD, and since graduating have worked to balance professional practice and establishing a research track record. At times this has been demanding – while there are areas of overlap, practice and research call for different skills. Staying on top of both takes organisation and persistence. My practice primarily focuses on young people and families, and my research areas (youth mental health, e-mental health and men’s mental health) complement and inform these. The real benefit of working across both practice and research is that you’re perfectly placed to develop and evaluate new interventions and treatment approaches.
For those commencing their professional journey, I’d recommend staying focused on your areas of interest, but don’t be too afraid to take up new opportunities that extend your expertise. Find areas of practice or research you enjoy – your passion will get through the tough times. Work hard to establish and maintain professional networks. Consider getting involved in your local APS Branch, an Interest Group, or College as these experiences give opportunities to meet supportive mentors and future colleagues, and can be drawn upon in interviews and applications. Make time for your own development, and attend conferences. Although costly, the opportunity to learn from world leaders is always inspiring. Make contact with experts in the field and see where it takes you. Always have a few articles you’re working on at one time, and don’t be too perfectionistic about sending out drafts for feedback. Most importantly, develop skills in self-care and resilience. These are critical for all careers and phases, but especially during early career years, where short-term contracts are the norm and career progression, funding and opportunities for publication often unclear.
As an early career practitioner, I have found blending practice and research equal parts challenging and rewarding. This pathway has provided not only unique opportunities for professional and personal development, but the capacity to undertaken meaningful mental health research that will hopefully be of benefit to others in our community.
Disclaimer: Published in InPsych on December 2015. The APS aims to ensure that information published in InPsych is current and accurate at the time of publication. Changes after publication may affect the accuracy of this information. Readers are responsible for ascertaining the currency and completeness of information they rely on, which is particularly important for government initiatives, legislation or best-practice principles which are open to amendment. The information provided in InPsych does not replace obtaining appropriate professional and/or legal advice.