In a recent email to students, faculty and staff, Counseling & Wellness Center (CWC) Program Director Dr. Anne Fisher addressed the resignation of half of the counseling staff at the completion of the fall semester. Dr. Fisher wrote, “The Counseling Center has been highly utilized over the last couple of years, but also has met difficult challenges, particularly with the pandemic. We are certainly experiencing locally what is seen nationally regarding counseling center staffing. We have a few people who are pursuing new goals for themselves. The staff leaving New College have all expressed appreciation for their work with students and the growth they had with those experiences.” With the announcement, Fisher included her hopes for the empty positions to be filled by the commencement of the upcoming spring semester.
In an interview following these changes, Fisher was asked to speak more on the larger trend pertaining to the understaffing of counseling centers.
“This is not just New College, this is a national thing that’s happening,” Fisher said. “Some of it I think has to do with COVID-19 because with people at home and working from home I think they thought about their lives and what they want to do with their lives.” She then described how telehealth practices allow for licensed professionals to find more lucrative and flexible careers.
While working from home allows mental healthcare providers more personal freedoms, there is also the aspect of social isolation that comes with working separate from a community. This sense of being entwined within a physical community is wherein the attraction of campus counseling centers lies for providers, and is where Fisher notes hope for retaining future staff.
“I’m hopeful,” Fisher said. “My goal will be to have a full staff by the beginning of spring term. I’m doing a national search for these jobs—I want to get the best people that we can and that means some of them may have to move, which is not a quick process.”
Fisher also noted that it’s not just the CWC experiencing loss of staff retention.
“There’s also been a lot of changes at the college and there are piles of employees leaving right now,” Fisher admitted. “We’ve had a lot of resignations.”
Fisher went on to relate this back to being reflective of a broader trend in people evaluating their desires regarding life and work. Apparently, working at New College of Florida often doesn’t make the cut.
“New College salaries are, for most staff, below what they can get in other places,” Fisher said. “It gets hard to make a rationale to stay”.
“I don’t want to scare students,” Fisher continued. “We’re putting the ads out, there’s a lot of people shifting jobs. I think this is a desirable location and it’s a desirable setting. So I’m really hoping that we’ll have some folks that will be really good and that we’ll be able to rebuild our team in ways that will work for us.”