Psychology, Professional


Fall 10-2018

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.)

Type of Paper/Work



Len Jennings

Second Advisor

Salina Renninger


The American Psychological Association continues to identify rural health as a priority and focuses on the behavioral healthcare needs of rural and frontier areas throughout the United States. To achieve optimal health and well-being for rural residents, a better understanding of rural practice is necessary. Currently, a gap in research aimed at understanding the decision-making process leading to rural practice exists (Decker, 2010; Oetinger, Flanagan, & Weaver, 2014). Additionally, information regarding the barriers encountered in rural practice permeate the literature. This study utilizes in-depth interviewing and authoethnography to explore the qualities and characteristics of a thriving rural psychologist, as well as illuminate the decision-making process of a psychologist in training choosing rural practice. Through inductive data analysis, four themes emerged: Attraction and Orientation to Practice Rurally, Professional Advantages and Personal Rewards of Rural Psychology, Coping Strategies to Enhance Rural Practice, and The Journey in Choosing Rural Practice. The current study provides a deep and intimate understanding of rural practice, identifying the qualities and strategies that allow a rural psychologist to thrive, as well as providing insight into the emotional experiences involved in choosing rural practice. Future qualitative research aimed at gaining a broad understanding of rural practice may inspire future and current psychologists, provide opportunities to cultivate resiliency strategies effective in rural practice, and further inform the recruitment and retention of rural psychologists.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.