How Mentorship Impacts Clinicians at Hopebridge
July 13, 2023
July 13, 2023
Thinking back on your educational and working experiences, is there anyone you would define as a role model? Is there a truly great mentor who made a mark on what you do or who you are?
For Hopebridge Lead Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) Nick Mineo in Georgia, there is not one, not two, but three colleagues he credits for playing a role in where he is today.
“At Hopebridge, you never feel alone. This is true whether I’m serving as the supervisor for someone who comes to me with a question, or when I’m collaborating with another BCBA in my center. From my former supervisor as a Fellow to my regional BCBAs, I know I can always reach out to them,” said Nick.
Nick has been surrounded by people hyping him up for his career, even before he entered the world of autism therapy. It started while Nick was a senior finance major contemplating his future goals.
“I wanted to make a positive impact on people, but I wanted to be able to see that impact,” said Nick. “My biggest supporter in life, my mom, asked if I would consider transitioning to the special needs field, specifically ABA, as my brother was diagnosed with autism when he was 3 years old, and I was really good with him.”
It was during his interview to become a Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) working in applied behavior analysis (ABA) at Hopebridge’s therapy center in Cumming, GA that he met the next person who would help him shape his career: BCBA Sam Sardone. Now a regional BCBA, she worked in-center at the time, serving as the first behavior analyst Nick worked with in his new role, and ran his RBT competency assessment.
Starting out as an RBT, Nick remembers that his first patient was working on identifying family members. At the time, the child was not vocal or using expressive language, but the therapy team used pictures and ask him to, “show me dad.” Unexpectedly, he did it right away! Seeing the emotion from both Sam and later, the boy’s father, influenced Nick and showed him that everyone in the center is constantly making a difference, no matter their role.
“The immediate rewarding feeling I get from making a positive impact on not only a child’s life, but the rest of the family’s lives is what did it for me. Personally, I didn’t get to see a lot of that through my brother’s experience when I was younger, so watching families get excited over hearing first words or toilet training played a huge role in my decision to work in ABA,” said Nick.
“Watching how passionate Sam was around her caseload also played a part. She cared so much about her kids and her staff that people wanted to come work under her. It was eye-opening how much difference someone could make in just a short amount of time.”
Nick also had support from Hopebridge Center Manager Jeremy Calhoun, who at the time served as the center’s RBT trainer. He notes that since there are fewer males than females working in this field, Jeremy’s passion with their kids was not something he had seen before, especially since his brother seemed to prefer his female therapists growing up. It gave him hope to see how Jeremy and the kids interacted with each other.
“It has been inspiring to watch Jeremy’s growth within Hopebridge from RBT to trainer to assistant center manager to center manager. Even when I transferred from the Cumming center, I knew I could always reach out to him,” said Nick. “Having Sam and Jeremy around helped me grow and fall in love with the field.”
Immediately after graduation, Nick went back to school to get his master’s degree in psychology and become a BCBA. While in the case manager role, Nick says he found another great supervisor in Kim Heinemann.
“Kim led me through a lot of growth and is part of the ‘project of me.’ She went out of her way at Woodstock to make sure I learned as much as I could and had the best experience possible, even taking part in a CEU event with me before I became a case manager,” said Nick. “She was a role model to me and still continues to be one.”
“Providing supervision to them was very rewarding right off the bat because I’m working with such motivated individuals. It’s gratifying to see their growth and independence in the problem-solving skills needed by BCBAs, plus watching their confidence grow as they work with RBTs over the past several months,” said Nick.
When asked to take on the supervising role for these Fellows, he jumped at the opportunity. Nick knows what it is like to be in their position and wanted to make sure they got the best supervisory experience possible.
“I’ve also had the chance to learn a lot as a supervisor, as well as from their feedback. I’ve been open with them, letting them know that we’re going to learn together and collaborate. I want our Fellows to share what they want to learn, and if there’s something I’m overlooking and they want to know it now, we can work together to set it up,” said Nick.
Throughout his supervisory role, his own mentorship has not slowed down, either. Since starting his position as a BCBA at the center in Athens, GA and then following the provider’s greatest needs to Snellville, Sam is once again Nick’s supervisor, now as a regional BCBA. She and Kim have both also served as consulting supervisors as he mentors his fellows.
“It can be difficult to find your way as a new BCBA. At Hopebridge, I get to look around at the people around me and take little things from each person and try to mold it into my own,” said Nick. “We have these awesome people who continue to push further in this field, and it shows in their outcomes. Sam is a great example of this.”
He is grateful to have Sam to turn to when he has a question and to have her support and feedback during their monthly overlaps on consultations. Most of all, he is inspired by the collaborative atmosphere they have created during his ABA journey.
“I’ve had such a great supervisory experience with my two primary supervisors in Sam and Kim, plus with Jeremy as my trainer, that I want others to know what it feels like,” said Nick.
Does this type of collaborative working environment and mentorship inspire you to make a change? We want to give clinicians like you the same experience. Check out our open positions across the country – including travel BCBA opportunities – to join a team and a mission that not only has our children and families in mind, but you, too.
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