Jason Steadman, Psy.D.
Assistant Professor of Psychology
East Tennessee State University
1. What is your current occupation?
Assistant Professor of Psychology, East Tennessee State University
2. What do you do? / Describe your role
As a faculty member in a department with a clinical, doctoral program, I get to wear multiple hats. I teach usually two courses per semester, lead a busy research lab, advise and mentor undergraduate and graduate students, supervise clinical work of doctoral students, and maintain a small caseload of private clinical patients. I also work in an area with few child psychologists, and because of my affiliation with the university, I am often invited to conduct trainings and give other talks to local child service organizations, like Head Start, a local pediatric psychiatric collaborative, and other related agencies. It is a lot of fun and certainly keeps me interested because there is variety in my day-to-day schedule, but there is also flexibility in when and how I do the work that I do, which allows me plenty of time for self-care and spending time with my family.
3. How did you learn about your job?
An advertisement was posted in the Division 53 listserve. When I saw it, it seemed to be the perfect fit for what I wanted to do next. I likely wouldn’t have found the job without Div 53.
4. How have you navigated your career? As in, what was the process that you took to get to your current position?
As someone with a Psy.D., I took a bit of an “unusual” path into academia. I got my degree from Baylor University, which has a top-notch Psy.D. program that creates a nice balance between clinical focus while still allowing ample research exposure to prepare me for academia. But I didn’t always want to be a university faculty member. I always saw myself as a full-time therapist. I still love clinical work, but I found that I was someone who would thrive most within a job that allowed me to exercise my creative and scientific side as well as my clinical side. For my dissertation, I created a manualized therapeutic program that I really wanted to continue to explore. I knew I needed some university support in order to best explore that interest. As I moved through my post-doctoral fellowship, I started to see what faculty positions were available that also seemed to be a good fit. My fellowship was a 1-year, primarily clinical fellowship in integrated primary care in Connecticut at an agency called Community Health Center, Inc. It was a supreme experience in integrated care, and now that I’ve experienced integrated primary care, I can never go back to the alternative. The ease of interprofessional collaborative communication in integrated care was something I never experienced in any other setting. My current position is in an APA-accredited doctoral program that specializes in training students in rural primary care. Thus, when I found out about it, I knew it was the perfect fit for me, because it allowed me to pursue my academic and clinical interests while capitalizing on my fellowship in integrated care. Now that I’m here, I totally love what I do.
5. Are you a member of Div53? If so, how has being a member of Div53 been helpful to you?
Yes, Div 53 is my go-to-source for evidence-based practice in child and adolescent care. I appreciate the support from colleagues while also enjoying the “pressure” I always get from everyone to make sure we are doing the best work we can. Being a member has also allowed me to make valuable connections with colleagues who, though I have never met in person, I know I can contact when needed for various issues, questions, or just opinions.
6. What is the most enjoyable aspect of your job? Why?
Watching students develop and mature into professional psychologists, and getting to play a role in shaping future therapists. I am in a Ph.D. program with an ample research focus, but I must admit that I do enjoy getting to be the resident Psy.D. I get to advise undergrads who are interested in a Psy.D. degree. I also strive to maintain the roots of my clinically-focused training and I work to remember how that training has shaped me differently than my colleagues. On the flip side, I also get to reap the benefits of my colleague’s specific areas of focus and their backgrounds. I get to learn from them, on the job, pretty regularly, which is cool.
7. What is a tough aspect of your job? How have you handled it?
Being a supervisor for the first time was a challenge. I realized it takes a lot to trust students with your license, and while that part (fortunately) was not the hardest part, I did realize that it is against my nature to make critical comments toward my students about areas for growth. I believe I have found a way to do that so that students still feel empowered and successful in their work, but it certainly is not easy to tell a student they really need to improve or face potentially serious consequences. In handling these challenges, I always strive to remember what I was like as a student and how I would want to hear such news. I also utilize the many basic therapeutic skills I use in everyday clinical practice. It turns out those work well in academia as well.
8. What is one thing that you wish you had known as a graduate student or post-doc/early career psychologist that would have helped you navigate your career?
That you’ll never have as much time to read and learn as you do when you’re a graduate student, and that you should not pass up on that valuable opportunity.
9. What advice would you give to students (including undergrads and grads) who may be interested in doing what you do?
Get some real-world, practical experience in the field, learning from a variety of mentors. Also, balance your education, getting good exposure to as wide a variety of fields as possible. I can’t tell you how many times I have discussed philosophy, engineering, sociology, literature, religion, culture, biology, chemistry, etc in my therapy sessions. It has helped me tremendously to have had a wide-ranging exposure to these topics in my previous education, not only in being able to talk to people about a variety of things, but in being able to simply think about the world from many different perspectives. Without a doubt, this, to me, is one of the most valuable qualities of a skilled mental health professional!