Sunday, February 17, 2008

Not-So Idle Hands

"Work is a sovereign remedy for all ills, and a man who loves to work will never be unhappy."

Ellen Henrietta Swallow Richards (1842–1911)

I'm the kind of person who is happiest when busiest. Paradoxically, the busier I am, the more I get done. If I don't have much to do, I'll sit around and do pretty much nothing, but maybe play solitaire and generally feel icky and guilty about not getting anything accomplished. So this whole business of not having enough work to do has had me in a weird place both cognitively and emotionally.

When I approached the psychologist under whom I served the bulk of my internship about coming in on Fridays & Saturdays to perform assessments for her while the office is technically closed, she jumped at the chance to have me back on board - at the same rate I'd been paid before: 55% of whatever I generate. My business partner is doing her internship there but has a small consulting business on the side and has offered to let me do her assessments when she has to be out of town for her other business. So I was to have had 2 evaluations on Thursday, 1 on Friday and 1 on Saturday. Two of those canceled, but I still got to do 2, and even used my upselling techniques from my old sales career to get a neuropsych eval out of Texas Rehab Commission (TRC).

Saturday's patient had a documented traumatic brain injury (TBI for short) nearly 2 years ago - and was revived after being dead for at least 5 minutes. She had bled out and needed over 20 pints of blood and was in a coma for a couple of weeks after being t-boned by a semi going about 70 mph. The evaluation I was to perform was just a general psych battery (IQ, personality & academic achievement), but she was exhibiting and describing some behaviors that are likely residual to her head injury. I called TRC to ask why they didn't order a neuropsych eval on the patient, given her medical history. The caseworker said, "I didn't know anyone around here could do that. We have a lot of people who need that kind of service who want to see a woman, but I didn't know of any."

"I'm it." I said, giving him a few more specifics about my qualifications. Then I asked him to obtain any prior test results from SSI and TRC (since they're really just different divisions of the same entity) so that I could compare where her cognitive function was a year or so ago when she was tested versus now so that we could better serve her rehabilitation needs. He happily agreed and told me he was happy that I was available to do that kind of work. Cha-ching - my payment nearly tripled, which more than makes up for the two cancellations, because now my name's on the list of women who do neuropsych evals out here in the sticks.

The only other person who does neuropsych out here is a guy and he's about to move on to another position. I know him very well, and it takes him months to get a report back. Mine are done in a couple of days, tops. I don't get paid until the agency gets paid, so since I like to get paid sooner rather than later, I crank 'em out with a quickness. To facilitate that, I set up shortcuts in my report writing process during internship. The agencies we contract with want basically the same information in the same order over & over so I set up a template using Excel and mail merge from Word. I type the relevant info into the appropriate boxes in Excel then pull up Word and after a couple of clicks a new document is generated with the info from the patient stuck into the appropriate spot in the report. Then I take a few minutes to edit for clarity, spelling/grammar & I'm done.

The neuropsychologist I've been working for since 2001, Dr. H, called me last week wanting me to do 3 evals over the next couple of weeks, for a total of 19 hours in testing, scoring & write up, adding, "I can only pay you $30 and hour." That's more than I've been making so let's rock & roll, pal! Most of the postdoctoral work I've been doing for him has included marketing activities and studying for my oral exam, so I'm happy to have some hot juicy clinical work. Assessment is my favorite...neuropsych assessment doubly so.

On top of getting a few clinical assignments, I'm still looking for an adjunct academic position and have gotten a couple of nibbles from a couple of programs but nothing serious, mostly just requests for my resume and one request to fill out a written questionnaire in lieu of a telephone interview for an online position. The thing about trying to get a job in academia is that it takes forever because everything has to go through committees. Bleh. The university where I got my BS also has a Master's program in counseling psychology and the director was one of my favorite professors when I was there so I gave him a call. -It's separate from the psychology department for some reason - probably some stupid political thing. He told me that one of the profs in his program died of a horrible neurological disease just the week before and that the funeral was just the Friday before the Monday I'd called. So there's definitely an opening there, but man I felt like it was really creepy of me to call that soon, even though I had no clue about the guy's death.

The state board of examiners of psychologists has cashed my check for the fee to sit for the oral exam so I guess I'll be doing that in July. I was researching passage rates a couple of weeks ago and it turns out that the oral exam seems to be more of a rite of passage than anything else. I found a document by the board that states that over 95% pass the first time and of the ones that have to come back and do it again in the afternoon, most of those pass, too. They're just looking for basic entry-level skills, and it's really kind of no big deal. Nevertheless, I'd still appreciate any suggestions for good neuropsychology casebooks if you know of any.

Anyway, thank you all for your kind words and support. I really appreciate you. Everything's going to work out fine. I just have to get through this little rough patch by cobbling together whatever I can. Gotta scoot - these reports won't write themselves - well, almost, but not really.


Kate said...


I'm not jealous, in the strictest sense of the word, because I wouldn't change a thing about my life right now and I'd have to change a LOT to get back to where you're at right now.

But I'm a little jealous, anyway.

Dr. Brainiac said...

Kate honey, don't you have a baby to make? If you decide to go back and finish that's great. If not, that's great too. My baby is 16. She started kindergarten a few weeks after I went back to college in 1997. I'm not making any more. The weird thing is that now that she's driving my clinical availability is greater, but I still don't have "enough" to do.

I'm going to be doing a lot more MMPIs (including one tomorrow morning) and have bought the scoring software because I just hate hand-scoring the damn thing. Want me to review the software when it gets here?

Kate said...

Oh, I know the software quite, quite well. My dissertation was comparing the RC Scales with the Clinical Scales.


I won't be going back. I may go somewhere different, but won't redo what's already been done. We'll see. Like I said, I wouldn't change a thing. No regrets. Just a little jealousy...

Brunhilda said...

Glad to hear of the progress! It would be a shame to waste all that fabulous learning, now.