Date: December 2023
University: University of Southern Queensland
Field of Study: Master of Clinical Psychology
Meet Suzie, a psychologist with a private practice in her hometown of Goondiwindi.
Suzie began her Master of Clinical Psychology in early 2020, but not everything went to plan.
Suzie’s experience with an SQRH placement showcases the adaptability and success of rural training. Her journey not only enabled her professional growth during uncertain times, but also allowed her to continue serving the community she loves.
Suzie, why did you decide to pursue a clinical master’s degree?
To me, it wasn’t really about clinical endorsement. It was more about upskilling after 10 years of private practice.
And you know, coming from a rural community, we have lots of services that come and go, or practitioners that come and go. So, part of my reasoning was that I was here for the long-term and I wanted to be able to have the skills to continue to treat a broader range of presentations.
Is that because in rural areas accessibility is more challenging?
Yes. A lot of people say psychologists should get a niche, you know, find a specialty and practice that. But in a rural community, you can't have that, you have to be able to help whoever walks through your door.
To be honest, I think my niche is rural!
I was born in Goondiwindi and I have lived here all my life. So, I’m able to relate to people. I know what it's like to have distance and accessibility challenges. I know what it's like to have droughts and floods and weather extremes, all those things.
So, you were working in your own practice in Goondiwindi and starting your master’s degree, then what happened?
It was really interesting.
I had decided quickly at the end of 2019 that I would put an application in to do my clinical masters at the University of Southern Queensland. I was four weeks in … then Covid shut everything down. The entire program was put on hold for about 6 weeks, because essentially it was a face-to-to face program, and I had to wait for it to be approved to be delivered online.
SQRH and the university facilitated doing the coursework online and placement in my community. It actually all worked out well for me because I was able to stay in my hometown and continue to work in my practice without having to drive 250kms to placement and campus every week.
You completed your master’s quickly and easily through a pretty challenging time?
Yes. And think my message to anyone considering upskilling is don't assume that being rural means you can't. If that's what you want to do, with the right support, you can make that happen. Even during Covid lockdowns.
What is next for you Suzie?
There is a lot of work here in private practice. Especially around stressors associated with work environments, and that can vary depending on the industry.
I have previously worked in the education system, so another big area in my practice is almost preventative support, by teaching kids the skills to handle anxiety and depression.
I have no intention of leaving Goondiwindi. It’s a vibrant, beautiful place that just seems to have its own little ecosystem. It’s a lovely community that is strong, resilient, and prosperous.
From Toowoomba to Charleville, Kingaroy to Goondiwindi, our students’ complete rural placements all over regional, rural, and remote Southern Queensland (across more than 400,000 square kilometres).
Learn first-hand from students, just like yourself, about their experience going on a rural placement, and why it’s an experience like no other!