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Preserve psych center opportunities

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To The Editor:

To Mayor William Nelson:

I am writing this letter in strongest support of maintaining the services, location, personnel and patient care level of the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center in Ogdensburg. I have been a resident of New York State for 12 years now and have had a license to practice psychology since 2006. Previous to that I held a license as a psychologist in Rhode Island, where I completed an internship and post-doctoral fellowship in service at Rhode island Hospital in Providence. Currently I teach psychology at St. Lawrence University. The courses I teach at St. Lawrence University focus on psychopathology and how it is treated, namely abnormal psychology (always over-enrolled and in high demand) and clinical psychology (also a popular course).

Students at SLU are looking for real-world experience, for contact with professionals who work in the fields they have identified for themselves as potential careers, and for feedback about how best to prepare for their lives post-graduation, and thus I have utilized SLPC as a base for CBL experiences over the years. In four years of sending students there for CBL positions, I have sent nine students to SLPC, with unchanging feedback: they have loved it, full stop. When they complete and externship there, they see first-hand the staff’s professionalism, the range of care that is given, the variety of allied health professionals coordinating care, and the treatment that is given to the patients. They are impressed, a little intimidated at first, and then find that they have something to offer as well as learn. The staff at SLPC have always given the students a warm and welcoming reception as learners in a field they love as well. All of these factors have served to create a synergistic relationship with SLPC and the psychology students at SLU.

In this economy, one of the crucial aspects that students need to find a job after completing their degrees is real-world experience and contacts. By having their learning take place partly at SLPC, they can accomplish both of those outcomes. Thus they not only learn about psychology and about health care, they position themselves to enter the workforce more successfully. In addition, of course, the learning opportunities for my students are unparalleled.

As you see, the center serves a need in this region that includes the patients and their families, but the center’s purpose and services extend to many other connections in the region as well. It is a regional asset as well as a state asset. We at St. Lawrence University need the center, and I believe New York State needs the center right where it is, continuing to do the excellent, compassionate and professional job just as it has over the decades.

Pamela Thacher, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Psychology

St. Lawrence University

Canton

Licensed Psychologist

State of New York

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