APNS Public Sector Survey Results

The Association of Psychologists of Nova Scotia (APNS) has recently completed a survey of Nova Scotia Psychologists working in the public sector. We would like to share the final report APNS Nova Scotia Public Sector Survey 2018 with you as we believe it contains important information about the state of psychological services in the public sector in Nova Scotia.

The survey targeted school psychologists, psychologists in hospitals and institutions, those in government and universities, as well as those who had recently left the sector. The survey asked questions relating to their workplace and job satisfaction.

APNS wanted to explore possible reasons for reported discontentment among Psychologists working in the public sector, coupled with the evident increase in Psychologists moving to private practice, and their relevance to reported recruitment and retention issues in the public sector.

Survey results identified the main reasons why Psychologists stay in the public system are a belief in public sector ideals and job security and benefits. In fact, amid other responses indicating lack of satisfaction, these were the things that kept them there. However, the survey also identified four areas of concern that were associated with dissatisfaction, stress and burnout, and an increased tendency to leave the public sector.

  1. Shortage of resources affecting the standard of care
    Psychologists are very concerned that the standard of care is in danger of being eroded with reductions in staff and resources. In addition, the emphasis on reducing wait times results in a focus on getting clients in the door, rather than providing appropriate evidence-based care in a timely fashion. Psychologists have the skills to provide the best possible care, but do not have the support required to allow them to use those skills.
  2. Limited autonomy and ability to practice psychology-specific skills
    Related to the above, Psychologists are dissatisfied that the situation in their workplace does not allow them to fully use their psychology-specific skills, lessening their ability to work with their clients to the full scope of their practice.
  3. Limited respect and support from supervisors and management
    Psychologists report that they receive respect from their peers, but are less likely to get that acknowledgement and respect from management. There seems to be limited awareness of the expertise and ethical requirements of Psychologists among leadership teams.
  4. A deficiency in professional development, appropriate to their needs
    Lack of, or the inability to access, appropriate professional development for Psychologists means they cannot keep their evidence-based skills current.

APNS is concerned that the above areas of dissatisfaction will lead to an increase in the already significant problem with retention of Psychologists in the public sector, and by extension in vacant positions, and therefore difficulties with recruitment.

For more information read the full APNS Public Sector Psychologist Survey Results.