This month, the Kaiser Permanente Mental Health Training Program (MHTP) is honored to spotlight the psychology training director for the East Bay Medical Center, F. Myron Hays, PhD, ABPP (he/el). Dr. Hays started his Kaiser journey in April 2001 in the Martinez Mental Health Outpatient facility, then moved to Kaiser Oakland in 2004, where he has been the Central Bay Consortium Director since 2007 and the Internship Director since 2018. Since joining the Oakland team, he has worked as a crisis/acute care provider, as a post-doctoral program director, and behavioral health manager. Prior to his career with Kaiser, Dr. Hays earned a B.S in Biology and Chemistry and B.A in History and English Literature from Grand Canyon University, a M.S in Genetics from the University of Arizona, a M.Div. in Theology from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, and a Ph. D in Clinical Psychology from the Pacific Graduate School of Psychology. He has a diverse clinical, research, and educational background that speaks to his years of experience. Some of his accomplishments include teaching as an adjunct professor for multiple doctorate programs, extensive and varied presentations and panels highlighting his own research at professional conferences, served on the California Board of Psychology Law and Ethics Exam Review Board, and his involvement in professional service and leadership with multiple national organizations (e.g., APA, APPIC, and ABPP).
Impressively, Dr. Hays has been elected to the American Psychological Association Commission on Accreditation and thus far is the first and only Kaiser employee in the Nation to have been selected for this service. In addition, he was also elected Associate Chair of Quality Assurance in 2022 (beginning this role in 2023), which is one of three leadership positions in the commission that are chosen by commission members themselves. While on the commission he has participated in making accreditation effective at the date of the site visit, has directed a team whose work has resulted in published accreditations standards for all recognized specialties, and developed national tele-supervision guidelines. Dr. Hays has acknowledged this service with APA to be a “peak professional experience” in his career thus far.
Dr. Hays has had a diverse and impressive academic and occupational career crossing different fields. He originally went down the path of allopathic medicine, then pivoted towards his interest in medically related science (genetics). He described the work as “tedious”, and though he discovered an interest in genetic counseling as a career option, he found that this work felt too restrictive for him. He then began his degree in theology and found that he enjoyed these academic pursuits but was not passionate about the pastoral/congregational aspects of the work. This eventually led him back to medicine, and he had particular interest in the practice of neuropsychology. He has since worked with a variety of patient populations and trainees throughout his career in psychology. He acknowledges that flexibility in your career is very important, and a good work life balance is key to staying happy in life. Dr. Hays enjoys traveling to new places, watching Spanish Language Comedies and Science Fiction/ Fantasy on T/V., and is looking forward to becoming a dog owner once again in the near future.
Dr. Hays believes in the healthcare system and the model of interdisciplinary care that is used throughout Kaiser Permanente. He acknowledges that it may be the best hope for a truly equitable health care experience for our country. Dr. Hays has reported that his “greatest joy comes when students actually embrace their expertise and acknowledge how much they really know”. His enjoyment of individual supervision is most felt when he can find what students are already doing right (“and especially when they did it without coaching”) and help them progress further and generalize to new situations. After many years working with psychology trainees, his favorite part of being a training director is “helping students to see the link between basic psychological science and clinical practice and using that knowledge to improve a patient’s life faster than might be the case otherwise using creative and individual interventions”. He encourages all trainees to use their own clinical experience to identify their areas of growth, and to pay attention to areas that may feel like a struggle to guide themselves to seek more support. He sagely expresses that “everything you do is a way to help your future career, or harm it” and that all clinicians should be using the resources available to them in the most optimal way, “meaning everybody needs to use the totality of their training to be different and offer something different”. Dr. Hays acknowledges that he has very high standards for students, but he also works tirelessly behind the scenes to make sure that they are successful and “protected from struggling with any licensing issues for the rest of their life”. As a supervisor who works with many trainees, his best advice is wisely stated, “always give people a chance to be successful”.
Contributed by Dr. Chelsea Vilinskas