University Series 027 - University of Southern Maine

Join Operant Innovations as we talk to Dr. Jamie Pratt about the multiple program opportunities at the University of Southern Maine and how they are constantly striving to mix the field of educational psychology and behavior analysis.

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Dr. Jamie Pratt -

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Behavior Analysis @ USM-


Shauna Costello (00:01):

You're listening to operant innovations, a podcast brought to you by ABA technologies. This week on the university series, we are talking with the University of Southern Maine and Dr. Jamie Pratt. Dr. Pratt is a Licensed Psychologist, Certified School Psychologist-Doctoral, and Board Certified Behavior Analyst-Doctoral. She completed her doctoral training in applied behavior analysis and school psychology at the University of Southern Maine (USM) in 2010 and presently serves as Assistant Professor and Chair of the Department of Educational and School Psychology at USM. As a graduate educator, Dr. Pratt is committed to preparing future behavior analysts and school psychologists to support positive outcomes for school-aged children and their families. Dr. Pratt has worked with school-aged children in the state of Maine since 2005. Prior to joining the faculty at USM, she served as the Director of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Services for an agency providing early intervention, day treatment, and home-based services to children with developmental disabilities and emotional-behavioral disorders. Dr. Pratt presently provides assessment, intervention, and consultation services for PK-12 students in both public and private school settings. She also serves as the faculty mentor for school psychology trainees participating in the Maine Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) program. Dr. Pratt’s scholarship focuses on extending behavior-analytic assessment and intervention strategies to improve outcomes for school-aged children with emotional-behavioral disorders. She has contributed to multiple publications on behavioral assessment and intervention and recently co-authored a book the topic of school-based functional behavior assessment. Dr. Pratt also engages actively in service to the professions of applied behavior analysis and psychology. She presently holds positions as President-Elect of the Maine Psychological Association, Ethics Compliance Chair for the Maine Department of Education’s Advisory Committee on School Psychologists, and Member-at-Large for the Association for Maine Behavior Analysis. So without further ado, Dr. Jamie Pratt

Shauna Costello (02:20):

Today, we're here with Dr. Jamie Pratt talking about the university of Southern Maine. So welcome, and thank you.

Dr. Jamie Pratt (02:28):

Thank you for having me. It's my pleasure.

Shauna Costello (02:30):

And I'm excited to learn some more about the program and because we were talking a little bit before this about it, but do you want to start with just a general overview of the program in general?

Dr. Jamie Pratt (02:42):

Absolutely. So at the university of Southern Maine within the department of educational and school psychology, we actually offer four different graduate programs. Two of those programs are focused on preparing our students for careers in school psychology. And two of the programs are focused on preparing our students for careers in behavior analysis. So for our ABA programs, we have a certificate program. It is designed for students with an earned master's degree who are pursuing the coursework needed to be eligible to sit for the BCBA exam. And that includes a series of eight courses that are verified by the association for behavior analysis international to meet both fourth and fifth edition standards. And then we have a master's in educational psychology with a concentration in applied behavior analysis. And that degree program incorporates the verified core sequence, and it rounds it out with a few additional courses to complete a degree. And those courses address topics, broad topics in education and psychology because our focus really is on preparing students for careers as behavior analysts, working in schools and related settings. And so we are hoping to build their competencies in behavior analysis and also expose them to some topics related to special education procedures, collaborating with multidisciplinary teams, understanding the biological influences on behavior and understanding the various, I guess we have a course on psychopathology. So understanding the various diagnostic presentations that the children they're serving may be presenting with.

Shauna Costello (04:58):

Well, and it sounds really interesting too, because that might not be something that a lot of people might expect to get from an online program, as well. And even from an, from a program that's, you know, in an educator like the education psychology field.

Dr. Jamie Pratt (05:16):


Shauna Costello (05:17):

So what I mean, can you explain a little bit more of those courses and what the students can expect to learn from them?

Dr. Jamie Pratt (05:24):

Absolutely. And yes, I think the placement within a department of educational and school psychology is relatively unique and all of our core program faculty are actually dually credentialed as board certified behavior analysts and school psychologists. And so we see those two professions as very well connected because they're both grounded in data-based problem solving. And we, throughout our courses are always discussing the importance of adopting a collaborative problem solving approach that, you know, regardless of the nature of a child or an adolescent presenting need, you start by identifying that problem. Really clearly defining it using assessment technologies to understand both the individual variables and the environmental factors that are contributing to that problem, using that data to drive intervention recommendations while also pulling from the literature and being intentional about implementation considerations, how to translate these research based practices into practical interventions that are deemed socially valid, that are feasible, that can be implemented with integrity. And then of course not stopping there, putting in place systems to evaluate the effectiveness of our services and modify interventions based on the data. And so as school psychologists and behavior analysts, that is kind of our guiding framework. So within our master's degree program with the concentration and applied behavior analysis, the eight courses that are part of the ABAI verified course sequence address the typical task list items. So we begin with an introductory course on basic principles of behavior where students are really getting exposure to the, the core principles that guide all of our work. Some of that I tell them it's about learning the language of ABA. They have to develop some fluency in order to be able to access and make sense of the literature. And they're introduced to many of the procedures that we dive into much more deeply in the application courses.

Dr. Jamie Pratt (08:05):

So they get that solid foundation. That's a more traditional kind of lecture focused course. And then we have courses on single case research design where students learn about behavioral measurement and how to evaluate the effectiveness of their services courses that explore various intervention techniques. So one focuses on skill acquisition programming, one focuses on strategies to address challenging behaviors. There's also a, of course, a course on ethics and behavior analysis. And you know, I think two of the additional unique courses are course, the standalone course on supervision and personnel management. And so we really examine how you apply everything you've learned about intervening effectively with your student clients and applying those same behavior analytic principles to, you know, shape the next generation of BCBA's and to promote effective performance of your staff in order to benefit the students and clients you're serving.

Dr. Jamie Pratt (09:23):

We also have a standalone course on it's called consultation and collaborative problem solving. And that course is it's sort of the culminating course in the program where students work collaboratively in small groups on simulated consultation cases and work through that entire collaborative problem solving process that I mentioned. So they're able to pull together everything they've learned about behavioral measurement and single case research design, also FBA and effective strategies to support skill, acquisition, address, challenging behaviors, and merge all of those sort of technical skills with some of those more challenging interpersonal collaborative skills. You know, how do you navigate differences of opinion? How do you arrive at solutions that are going to be implemented with integrity, especially for folks who are working in school settings, their colleagues, aren't behavior analysts. And so I think from having that dual lens of school psychology and behavior analysis, I think helps prepare students who are not only going to be working in behavior analytics settings, but who might be venturing into territory where they're the only one looking at a situation through this lens.

Dr. Jamie Pratt (10:56):

And then, so those are the kind of the overview of the behavior analytic courses. And as I mentioned, the courses that round out the master's degree, one is a course on special education law. So even if our students choose not to work in schools, if they're working with the school aged population, they're going to interface with the schools and being able to speak that language, to understand why, you know, what makes the student eligible for special education services, what are their entitlements knowing how to navigate that IEP team process we think is important. And the other sort of education-related course is a general educational research methods course so distinct from our single case design course, this explores a variety of different research methodologies, group research methodologies, survey research, quantitative, qualitative. So we want our students to be good consumers, not only of the behavior analytic research, but also of the wider research so that when they are collaborating on these multidisciplinary teams, they have the skill set to evaluate the research that others might be accessing to inform their practices.

Dr. Jamie Pratt (12:21):

And then the two psychology courses that round out the degree include a course called physical basis of behavior. So it's, you know, it's, it's kind of a survey course where you're examining you know, the really the biological basis of what we do. And then the psychopathology course is another survey course where we explore you know, the different classification systems so that students understand, you know, the difference, for example, of being identified as a student with a disability in special education and having a medical diagnosis from the DSM. And we look at a variety of mental disorders, neurodevelopmental disabilities, understanding the risk factors, the trajectory, the symptoms, and evidence-based practices aligned with each of those. So that's the essential curriculum. And, these courses are can be completed entirely in an online format.

Dr. Jamie Pratt (13:33):

The ABA courses are delivered in a synchronous online format, which means we use zoom. So students participate in live class sessions. The classes are capped at 20. So there's ample opportunity for that real time interaction with faculty. And in the applied courses where we're looking at the application of basic principles for behavior change purposes, we integrate lots of in-class applied activities. And so we use the breakout room features of zoom, students work in small groups on case examples, when we teach the functional behavior assessment course they can role play interviews. So there's, even though those are delivered in an online format, I think you have all of those benefits of being able to connect and collaborate with your peers and with faculty.

Dr. Jamie Pratt (14:32):

Those additional courses that are not behavior analytic are typically offered in your more traditional online format an asynchronous format, as we say. And so with those courses, students have more flexibility to do the work on their own time. It's a little bit more self-paced and and you know, they are typically assigned different readings, little videos to watch some different application activities online discussions and so on, but we do also offer an opportunity for on campus participation. So students who opt for participation in our programs on campus they still complete those four additional non behavior analytic courses in an online format, but they can attend live class sessions on our Gorham campus. And how that usually works we've seen our numbers actually explode over the past three years. We have over 200% increase in enrollment. And we now have about 250 students from all over the country, even internationally, a few people trying to get in before the BCBA standards for international applicants change. So it's a really rich experience because students had the opportunity to learn about how, well similar, and how different ABA I guess the service delivery methods vary depending on funding structures. There's a wide variation in how BCBAs are utilized in school settings. And just, you know, even for example, in Maine, very few individuals who are receiving home and community based treatment are very few are covered by private insurance. It's almost all funded by our state Medicaid and in other States where private insurance dominates that changes the nature of services. So it's a really neat opportunity for kind of that diverse exposure.

Dr. Jamie Pratt (16:51):

But anyway, I was, I was saying we have about 250 students, I would say, 30 to 40 participate on campus. And how that usually works is that the core program faculty will teach one of those ABA core sections in a blended format. So they will teach it live in Gorham, Maine students can be in the classroom or they can join in via zoom. So you have this kind of this mixed group and the reason we do it that way is that the number who choose to come to campus, usually it's only about six. So the folks who come to campus, it's a really small intimate group in the classroom.

Shauna Costello (17:36):

Well, I mean, I really liked how you explained the program, even though it's an online program, it's not just this asynchronous online program, self-pased, you just go through it just to go through it. That's not what it is. And I really liked that you clarified that. You're really still going to be meeting your cohort, classmates, who you're going through this program with, because I know for me, one of my biggest things, I still have virtual happy hours and events with the people I was in grad school with, we just had one like last week. And, and not only is it a social network, but it's also becomes that professional network as well. And the students that you're getting, like you said, they're not only from the United States, they're also from international, which is something that not all universities always get there's, you know, international students, but sometimes it's harder for international students to get to the United States and take those on campus courses. And so I really liked that you really clarified that, that this isn't just, you know, just a program just to get through it, just to say you did it, you're really still going to get that faculty interaction, your classmate interaction, and that hands-on interaction.

Dr. Jamie Pratt (19:02):


Shauna Costello (19:03):

Well with the classes that you said too I've had experience working in schools in Michigan, and I think that your program I've had students when I was teaching, ask me like, Oh, I want to do school stuff. Oh, I want to do school stuff. And I had to learn a lot of that stuff after my program, while I was in it, I had to go out of my way to learn a lot of those intricate details that you've already incorporated into the programming, which is really neat to hear, because I can't tell you how many times I've walked into a school and they're like, okay, what's wrong? Okay. Tell us what we're doing wrong. And so I feel like you're really setting them up for success because you're not only just shoving behavior analysis down their throat. You're like, no, you're going to be working with these other professionals. This is what they're studying. This is what they're looking at. You need to be able to know what they're doing as well. And I think that's a really important piece.

Dr. Jamie Pratt (20:10):

Absolutely. Yes. I mean, that's one of the, you know, kind of major barriers, I think to translating research into practice. It's navigating the issues of buy-in. And so we're, we're continuously encouraging our students to think about that problem solve around that. And you know, even our student, not everybody goes into schools. We have plenty of, of graduates who work in ABA clinics or private school settings that are behavior analytic. And although they may not face those same challenges with their internal team, working with families is also, you know, that skill of being able to adopt the other's perspective, to understand that perspective, to communicate our philosophy and our recommendations in an accessible way, and to be flexible. Our research and our our assessment results pointless to a myriad of possible strategies to approach a problem. And so being flexible that there's more than one way to tackle the problem. And the best way is going to be the way that of course is conceptually systematic of course, aligns with the individualized assessment data, but also sort of fits in with the values and the resources in a particular setting.

Shauna Costello (21:48):

I couldn't agree more because behavior analysis has this wonderful technology, but it's not the only thing. And we, we need to be just as accepting of outside fields and being familiar with the research and studying the research and the education that they're getting as well. It's just going to make us more open to that and potentially more effective because we can see all of these different ways of doing things and we can bring our expertise and our knowledge in to make it as effective as possible. So it's just it's really cool to hear that that's what the entire curriculum is kind of founded on is this collaborative model of working with others, not just education, but others in general. And I know that you mentioned all your faculty are both BCBAs and also school psychs, right. So who will they be learning from? Who are your faculty?

Dr. Jamie Pratt (22:51):

Yeah, so we have four core program faculty, full-time faculty. Mark Steege is a professor of education in school psychology. He has been at USM for over 30 years. His area of expertise is really it's the application of behavior analytic assessment and intervention strategies to support individuals with developmental disabilities. So he's worked in group homes, in special purpose, private schools, and particularly interested in functional behavior assessment, functional communication training and you know, so he is a well-established clinician and applied researcher.

Dr. Jamie Pratt (23:47):

My area of expertise before I joined the faculty, I had worked in for a behavioral health agency where I was the clinical director for a variety of programs. We had an early intervention program. We had K through 12 programs, one for students with developmental disabilities, one for students with emotional behavioral disorders. And we also kind of pushed in our support into public school settings. And then we had home and community-based services. So my primary interest really has been the application of behavior, analytic assessment and intervention strategies to support students with emotional and behavioral disorders. Who, you know, I think are really underserved in many ways many of the programs you know, they, they focus on the mental health component, but I really believe that that collaboration between behavior analysts and mental health providers is, is fundamental to meeting the needs of that population. So that's, that's my area of interest.

Dr. Jamie Pratt (25:03):

Then we have Dr. Garry Wickerd, Dr. Garry Wickerd actually started as a teacher, pursued school psychology, and then obtained his BCBA. And so most of his behavior analytic work has been consulting in public school programs. And then our most recent full-time faculty member is Dr. Gretchen Jefferson. Again, she pursued her doctorate in, in school psychology, but she really started in behavior analysis working with feeding disorders individuals with traumatic brain injury. She's been in public schools, private schools, clinics, hospital settings, so wide variety. And I guess what I would say, you know, the common theme we have that dual background behavior analysis and school psychology, and we're also clinicians. And we all continue to maintain our clinical practice. For example, in addition to my faculty work I provide consultation in both public school and private school settings. And so you know, we bring that, that clinical perspective to the classes. I think it you know, it keeps us fresh. It gives us, you know, kind of real world examples to discuss. So yeah, that's our core faculty. We also have about six part-time faculty who support instruction. Many of the part-time faculty are actually, there are our doctoral students who already have their BCBA certification, or they are graduates of our doctoral program. So they're individuals who pursued the PSY-D in school psychology and earned their master's in educational psychology with a concentration in ABA along the way. So again, they have that dual lens and they are currently working as clinicians while teaching part-time in the program.

Shauna Costello (27:19):

Well, and that's really exciting too, because not only does that kind of, it kind of shows you where some of your students could go.

Dr. Jamie Pratt (27:25):


Shauna Costello (27:25):

As well. I know we're talking about the masters and the post-master's certificate, things like that more generally, but that kind of gives you an idea of potentially where some of your students would even go afterwards.

Dr. Jamie Pratt (27:39):

Yeah and we've certainly had people who have completed the master's in educational psychology with a concentration in ABA, and then have returned to pursue that doctoral level training in school psychology.

Shauna Costello (27:53):

Well, that's really exciting. And it's really good to hear that. And I know that one thing you talked about is that if the students are close enough that they can ask to come on campus, and I know we haven't talked about practicum yet, but one thing that I did want to ask was if they're close enough and they opt for in person, is that an option for them to potentially work on research and things with anybody?

Speaker 2 (28:19):

Yes. We certainly, when most of our research as a faculty is actually very collaborative. So our last project, for example, it actually wasn't, it was scholarship rather than research. We work together to revise an edition of a functional behavior handbook. So it's functional behavior assessment in schools. And so it's really a practitioner's handbook. And we had several of our, one of our masters students and one of our doctoral students who were part of that development. So they assisted with that book. We also have you know, currently we're collaborating on a couple of different projects to examine different FBA methodologies. One of my goals is to sort of outline strategies for functional behavior assessment for individuals with emotional behavioral disorders. When we obviously do very well in behavior analysis identifying those, you know, kind of more immediately observable antecedent and consequent influences on behavior but how can we capture some of those private events that are also clearly influencing behavior of individuals with well-developed language skills? So really working on some methodologies there or also kind of collaborating on a project to look at a training program, to teach a descriptive assessment procedure. That's a variation on your traditional antecedent behavior consequence recording and involves observing incidents and doing what we call like a little mini conceptual incident based analysis, where you're identifying possible motivating operations possible, discriminative stimuli, possible reinforcing consequences, and looking at developing a training program to see if we can get reliable data collection with that method. So most of the students who are joining that are students who have graduate assistantships at USM which are actually open to any students in our graduate programs. But we have a limited number of graduate assistants and some additional people who are interested. So we would always welcome anyone in any of our programs to jump in onto those research team meetings.

Shauna Costello (31:01):

Well, that's really exciting too, just because I know that with the faculty that you mentioned with the curriculum that you mentioned as well, I can really see some potential applied, like applied researchers being produced, because like I mentioned before, it's not just behavior analysis. It's not just education and psychology, it's this amalgamation of them and for different settings that they're going into that could really put them in a really good spot to be these applied researchers.

Dr. Jamie Pratt (31:37):


Shauna Costello (31:38):

Be successful at it.

Dr. Jamie Pratt (31:40):

And every once in a while we have a student in one of our ABA programs who says, "Hey, I'm really interested in doing this". And you know, we'll, we'll support that, we'll just because it's something that's engaging to us and meaningful for the students. You know, just recently for example, we had a student who wanted to replicate a study that one of our doctoral students conducted for her dissertation. And he wanted to replicate that in his public school setting across the country. And so we're looking at collaborating on that.

Shauna Costello (32:27):

That's so exciting. And I think that that really that's kind of a pro as well for your program is because a lot of people want to get this type of experience with the schools with education. And a lot of times we see specialized schools. We see it's a lot of times in public schools, it can be a little bit more difficult to do some of this stuff, but you have the faculty to help support those goals of your students, which is really, really good to hear. And to kind of, I know you kind of mentioned it before that we haven't talked about practicum yet. You and I kind of talked about it, but that's always a question that people ask, what does practicum look like at USM?

Dr. Jamie Pratt (33:14):

Yes. So our program does not integrate the required field experience for eligibility for BCBA certification. So our students pursue that independent of the university and independent of the program. We always provide every student coming in with a general orientation and we, you know, share the information about the requirements for supervision. I often have students asking me for suggestions on how to identify supervisors. So we certainly provide that sort of support in general, our students. I would say we have, our students tend to fall into kind of two different groups of students. We have students who are working as behavior technicians or paraprofessionals and educational settings. They usually didn't really intend to pursue that career path. They, you know, studied psychology or something completely unrelated as an undergraduate fell into this, fell in love with the work are working under supervision of a BCBA. And you know, it just sort of ignites their passion for the field and they want to further their education and be able to you know, kind of move up the career ladder and what they're doing. So they're often connected with a BCBA who's then kind of an advocate for them and, and ready to support their supervision. So those individuals are usually already employed in a setting where they'd like to pursue their supervision. And so this is a good match because they don't need to leave their employment. They can stay in their employment, they can pursue their supervision and they can come to us for the coursework and the degree.

Dr. Jamie Pratt (35:08):

The other group of students, we have they are educators. We have a wide variety of professional educators. We have mostly special ed teachers, but we have we have regular education teachers, we have school administrators, we have school counselors school, social workers, more recently with the BCBA change we've seen more speech and language pathologists coming into the program. So, you know, these again are our folks who are, they're already employed. They're in a professional setting, they are committed to staying within their respective districts and want to be able to you know, pursue this career pathway and advance their knowledge and advance their competencies without having to leave what they're doing. For some of those people, it can be a little bit more challenging. They tend to do the field experience on more of a part-time basis because they have plenty of responsibilities within their jobs that don't, don't fall into the category of, of behavior analytic work. But with some creativity and you know, support, especially from the district in ensuring that they get that supervision they're usually able to do it that way.

Shauna Costello (36:34):

Well, that's good too, to know that, you know, what your students have experienced so far. So, so far everyone's been been good. And even, I just want to mention too, even with the new requirements, I know it's a lot more than the older requirements. Some of my new incoming students are going through that as well. But it's still doable even on that part-time scheduling, like you said, there's five years, three to five years to them. That's plenty of time. Right. Don't worry. And so let's see, we have general overview, faculty, practicum, courses. How about the application process?

Dr. Jamie Pratt (37:19):

Sure. The application processes is pretty straight forward. So the it's an online application for either one of the, either for the certificate program or for the master's program. It's an online application. The university of Southern Maine has waived all application fees. So there's no cost to apply, which is lovely. And then we ask students to submit a resume or CV. We ask them to respond to an essay question, explaining why they're seeking training in behavior analysis. For the master's program we also require a letter of recommendation and official transcripts. So it's definitely a manageable application process. And we are primarily looking for students who are communicating in their essay an understanding of what they're stepping into, you know, es do they understand what working as a behavior analyst entails and, you know, are they evidencing that commitment? That's, we're looking for that goodness of fit. And we actually, we, we review applications on a rolling basis. The students may begin three times a year. So at the university of Southern Maine, we offer courses in a 15 week, fall semester, a 15 week spring semester. And then also during summer session, which could be either a seven week or a more traditional 15 week semester. There's some variability there. So people can start in September, January, or May at any one of those starting points, we have priority deadlines. But if we still have capacity to bring students on who apply after that priority deadline, we will, if we don't have capacity they're considered for the next semester,

Shauna Costello (39:30):

That's really good to know. And I just want to clarify, cause I didn't hear it. And I know I get a lot of this, this question from students looking for graduate schools. I did not hear anything about a GRE

Dr. Jamie Pratt (39:44):

That is correct. We used to require the GRE and we made a determination to remove that requirement and to remove any potential barriers for high quality applicants from diverse backgrounds coming into the program.

Speaker 3 (40:01):

Yep. And it's just one thing I always like to clarify, because I know that scouring social media and this and that, that's probably one of the biggest things that always pops up when looking for programs also for the students who are closer to you and then do get to experience the on campus atmosphere. What is, I know you mentioned the Gorham campus, what, I mean, what is that area like? What is Gorham like what is Maine, like I know that I have, I've never been to Maine personally.

Dr. Jamie Pratt (40:34):

You should come!

Shauna Costello (40:34):

I would love to I do know that one of my favorite restaurants in downtown Detroit flies in Maine lobsters every year to do lobster roll week. And I'm very happy when that happens. But what I mean, what should they expect? If students are, I mean, if they do want to take part in that and they do want to, you know, what is it like?

Dr. Jamie Pratt (40:57):

Yeah. I mean, I actually was born and raised in Maine, so I am very biased. However, I, I really it's a wonderful place to live. I mean, really for people, especially who enjoy the outdoors, we have the coast, we have the mountains you know, we have lakes, it's just, it's sort of a Wonderland for people who enjoy the outdoors. Gorham, Maine is you know, it's where our department is housed. It's a small kind of suburb of Portland. It's really you know, kind of a small college town with some little restaurants and things like that. And it's actually quite rural in some parts of Gorham, which is interesting considering how close it is to Portland. It's only you know, 15, 20 minutes from Portland, Maine, which is situated on a peninsula, right in Casco Bay, Atlantic ocean, Gulf of Maine. It's continuously recognized as, you know, one of the most livable cities in the United States. And it wins all the foodie awards. It's a wonderful there's an area called the old port, which, you know, things of course right now look a little bit different, but you know, it's really kind of just a bustling lively kind of cultural hub, lots of restaurants and breweries and concerts. And you know, it's, it's a small laid back welcoming community. It, it really, it's, it's a wonderful place to be. I recommend it to anyone, whether you want to come to the university of Southern Maine or not. I recommend Maine.

Shauna Costello (42:52):

Yes, well and I would love to go visit Maine because like even when you're explaining it to me, that was one of the reasons why I moved back to Michigan was for almost all of those same reasons, like all of that stuff. So I think my heart would be content in Maine just from listening to that. And I'm also though, like, I like the cold, I like the cold and the snow and things like that too. So I know Maine's a little bit up there, so you're going to be getting some seasons when you go to Maine.

Dr. Jamie Pratt (43:22):

Absolutely. However, I think people, people don't often realize how huge Maine is you know, to drive from Southern Maine to Northern Maine is over six hours and the climate is actually even significantly different. So I live right on right on the coast and, you know, inland, they might be seeing three feet of snow and we saw like a little dusting. So it, you know, it really it really varies, but the coastal aspect is a little bit moderating, but you can always go to the mountains if you want the snow.

Shauna Costello (44:02):

So I think we've covered a lot of stuff. A very good overview of the program, the different, the different two different programs that you have potential future opportunities to even come back and work with the faculty even more let's see the practicum stuff. We have the application and we have what Gorham is like. Is there anything else that you want to say about USM or anything about the program in general?

Dr. Jamie Pratt (44:37):

I guess, you know, the only other thing that I guess maybe two points one is that, I think it's a very collaborative community. I mentioned that the faculty are highly collaborative and I think that culture spills into the classes. And so it's an environment where our students are just 100% committed to, you know, doing the best they can to support children, adolescents, and their families. And so that sort of shared mission, I think, contributes to a very supportive and collaborative atmosphere. Additionally we do in-state tuition. University of Southern Maine is a public university so in-state tuition is very affordable and there's a really significant discounted E-tuition rate for people from out of state who are participating online. And so it's also a very affordable program and there are opportunities for students in our master's program, they have to be in the degree program, to apply for scholarships. We're always able to give a few scholarships to incoming students. And there, you know, I don't know whether funding will be affected in the next year or two, but you know, historically the office of graduate studies has also had a pool of funds where students can apply for funding to support attendance at professional development events and things like that. So you know, I think that there are some, some solid financial supports and benefits too.

Shauna Costello (46:33):

Well, and that's really good to hear because a lot of times when people are looking at online programs, that that's not always an option. So to know that USM is really there to be like, Hey, we have these opportunities, please apply for them. Please try and get this as much as you can. And yes, none of us really know what's coming in the future anyway, for probably anything right now, everything's kind of up in the air, but no, it's been absolutely great talking to you and learning more about USM and Maine and the faculty. And I love sitting here and listening to this because you can only learn so much from a website and you're not going to get this from a website. And one thing that I always ask is that, is it okay if I put your contact information, if anybody has questions?

Dr. Jamie Pratt (47:22):


Shauna Costello (47:23):

Perfect. Well, if you don't have anything else I'll say thank you so much for talking with me today. I had a really, really great time.

Dr. Jamie Pratt (47:33):

Thank you. It was my pleasure.

Shauna Costello (47:37):

Thank you for listening to this episode of the university series. And as always, if you have questions, comments, feedback, or suggestions, please feel free to reach out to us at

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