The Norton Sound Health Corporation (NSHC) in the Bering Strait Region of remote northwest Alaska operates the Norton Sound Regional Hospital in Nome. The Bering Strait Region encompasses a vast pristine 44,000 square-mile area extending to the Russian border in the Bering Sea. Nome is the central community of the Bering Strait Region with 4,000 residents. NSHC operates clinics in 15 outlying Alaska Native villages on the coast, including the islands of St. Lawrence and Little Diomede in the Bering Sea. About 81 percent of the Bering Strait Region’s 10,900 people are Alaska Natives, composed of Siberian-Yupik, Central Yupik and Inupiat. The Behavioral Health Services (BHS) program of NSHC includes a staff of 54 in Nome coupled with its village-based counseling programs in the outlying Native villages.
The Behavioral Health Services program provides diverse mental health services to adult, children and adolescents, including inpatient and outpatient programs, within a culturally-sensitive milieu.
- Outpatient mental health services include individual, couple, family and group psychotherapy including interactive and observational play therapy.
- Psychological testing is provided to geriatric, adult, children and adolescent clients dealing with a broad range of issues from mental competency, learning disabilities and personality, emotional and behavioral diagnostic issues.
- Psychiatric services involving medication assessment and evaluation are also provided.
- Outpatient substance abuse services include alcohol and drug information school (adolescent and adult), evaluation and risk measurement/prevention, individual and group counseling (Matrix).
- Village-based counseling programs offer first-line therapeutic services through community-based paraprofessionals supported by itinerant mental health clinicians based in Nome.
- BHS has several memorandums of agreement with other agencies (e.g., Office of Children’s Services, Nome Youth Center, Kawerak Children’s and Family Services) in Nome to promote therapeutic services throughout the region.
The Internship Experience
Each intern will have an individualized learning plan developed by the intern and his/her primary supervisor. Quarterly reviews will be conducted to insure that learning plan goals are being met. Doctoral psychology interns are expected to become familiar and comfortable with state regulations governing the execution of routine mental health and substance abuse assessments. Interns will be exposed to a variety of treatment modalities (i.e., individual, group) that promote the well-being of individuals suffering from mental health and/or substance abuse problems. Further, interns will become familiar with administering a variety of psychological assessments in a culturally-sensitive manner dealing with diverse referral issues. Another exciting aspect of NSHC’s internship is that all interns will be exposed to village travel and working with village-based counselors in the context of a Native community. This will ultimately prepare them for working in the mental health and substance abuse field in rural Alaska. Finally, each intern is expected to become familiar with the integrated care model at the primary care clinic with possibilities for experience with acute care and emergency department.
Interns are full-time employees of the Norton Sound Health Corporation and are expected to work minimally 40 hours per week, Monday through Friday. At least three evenings will include interns co-leading a Matrix outpatient substance abuse group with their supervisor and/or staff clinician/intern for one 16 week cohort. At least 8 hours per week will be devoted to working within the Norton Sound Regional Hospital on its primary care clinic as a behavioral health consultant. Every 4 weeks, interns will travel to an outlying Native village for minimally 2 nights and 3 days in the Bering Strait Region where they will work with a village-based counselor in the context of a Native community. Monthly tele-med trainings will also be provided through the consortium.
Special Requirements of Applicants
An important asset for all interns will involve being flexible since the Bering Strait Region historically carries one of the highest suicide rates in the nation. Crises are common and interns must be able to address different issues as they arise. Supervisors, however, will insure that exposure to crises is conducted in a manner that facilitates a productive learning experience.
- Lindsey Hickey, Ph.D. –Licensed Clinical Psychologist, AK-PIC Faculty, Primary Site Supervisor
- Ray Droby, Ph.D. – Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Director of Psychological Services: Sub-Regional Clinic, Site Co-Supervisor
- Seth Green, Ph.D. - Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Back-up Clinical Supervisor
- Rebecca Robinson, Ph.D. – Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Back-up Clinical Supervisor