The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

August 2, 2013
Unusual California state government jobs: Psychiatric technician

Susan_LePage.JPGThis is the fifth installment in our series on California state employees whose jobs don't immediately come to mind when you think of government work.

State worker: Susan LePage

Job Title: Senior psychiatric technician, Substance Abuse Unit, Napa State Hospital

Number of years with the state: 24

What does a typical week in the life of a psychiatric technician look like?
"A typical week would be, really, getting 44 adult patients to go where they got to go. We've got appointments, medical appointments, groups, work ... feeding them, caring for them, (and) giving them medications. Also listening to them, ... (being a) peacekeeper (and) just providing them with activities. I work with the substance recovery unit (and) boredom is a big trigger, (so) just trying to keep them busy, that is all mushed into a week."

What is the most extraordinary or interesting thing that has happened while you were on the job?
"(I was) given the opportunity to come to this new unit that we are spearheading at Napa State Hospital. That is the substance recovery unit. It is interesting because I worked with some of these guys before and now to really see these guys open up, to see them now waking up and talking and confiding in others and to see this whole brotherhood that takes place in the unit ... it puts things in perspective. "

How did you come to be a psychiatric technician?
"I was living in Los Angeles and I really felt that I wanted to work with the homeless population. My mom ran a medical school and really persuaded me to go into this profession. I really felt a calling to go work with people."

Is there anything you want people to know about your job?
"It is somebody's son, or daughter or mother that we are working with, and sometimes they don't have families and we are their families. You are also there to give these people hope and that there can be a life out there if they make the commitment to go out there and pursue that, that there is hope."

Helicopter fire pilot
Seed botanist
Coho recovery coordinator

PHOTO: Susan LePage. Courtesy of Napa State Hospital

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About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog and a companion column in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at


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