One of AZA United’s newest team members, a BCBA since 2020, came to realize that her first years as a BCBA were not ideal. Experiencing many of the challenges any BCBA faces combined with for-profit employers, she found herself in a cycle of high caseloads, pressures to bill services and uncertainty about quality of care. So when the possibility of becoming a member of Team AZA came along, she was excited yet nervous because she knew of AZA’s high standards. As it turns out, her commitment to care and willingness to grow is exactly what Team AZA was looking for.
Now a member of the team, her excitement and passion for AZA hasn’t abated. She was more than delighted to share her previous job experiences, her recruitment and onboarding experience with Team AZA, and her hopes for the future.
A lot of other places I interviewed with offered a job right away and they basically said, “Turn in your new hire paperwork and we’ll get you clients.” They just throw you in! I was a new BCBA in 2020 and on my first day, this is what they said to me. And there wasn’t any support, coaching or training. How do you know if you’re giving the best treatment plans and doing the best for your clients when there’s zero support? In my past jobs, there weren’t a lot of standards in place. It felt a bit like the old west where we were asked to show up and then figure it out from there.
I have always been an advocate for quality and ethics. I follow the ethical code like it’s my own personal bible. But in my previous BCBA jobs, which were for-profit, it seemed that the focus was on billable hours. Whereas I wanted to focus on the best treatment plan and care for my clients, it didn’t feel like my employers and I shared that goal.
Both stressed and disappointed. Stressed because of the overwhelming number of caseloads, the pressure of the billable hours plus feeling I didn’t have the support I needed. And disappointed because I knew that in this system, my clients weren’t going to benefit as well as I wanted them to nor well as I knew was possible.
AZA was highly recommended by my BCBA mentor who I meet with biweekly. She said AZA was a phenomenal service agency. The more I heard about them and through my research of them the more I wondered, “Could a place for a BCBA like this really exist?”
Not only had my mentor sung AZA’s praises, I had heard about them for quite some time. They are literally grandfathered in as one of the oldest ABA agencies in Phoenix, having been in existence for 15 years - which you just don’t see in ABA agencies! The norm is more like 1-5 years so their longevity and experience were impressive and said a lot about them.
As I was applying, I poured over the website reading as much as I could.
The application was easy, and they got back to me in a very timely manner. When I told other BCBAs that I had an interview with AZA, their response was to wish me luck with the underlying message that because of their reputation of high standards, I shouldn’t pin my hopes on them. I knew they don’t just hire anyone, so I was rather nervous going into it. My approach was to be candid about the challenges I had experienced and what I was hoping would be different with AZA.
I interviewed with Carey and Ninette, and I could tell in the interview they seemed happy with their jobs and they’ve both been with AZA for some time. That was a great sign because right off the bat, I knew that the two people interviewing me had already invested so much time in AZA. In other agencies I’ve worked for, turnover is so high that you’re always working with new people. There’s something to say about an organization that retains its employees for that long. People don’t stay somewhere if they’re not happy.
It seemed that although they appreciated my experience, they were very interested in finding out if I was a culture fit. That impressed me. I left my other agency so I could have support and constructive feedback; I want guidance, coaching and feedback because I just want to grow as a clinician. Because if I can’t grow, I am not going to be providing quality services for the families and kiddos.
I could tell that we had a lot of things in common. Their questioning kept coming back to quality of services as the central theme. They talked about their mission, and it was clear that this is the organization that I wanted to be a part of. And luckily for me, they felt the same.
Hands down, it has been the most organized onboarding for any job I’ve ever had. There are many moving parts, but the onboarding has been efficient, clear and easy to follow through. The communications are clear and the reminders are timely. I felt supported and that they were excited to welcome me.
Another thing that really stuck me as interesting: some of the things they required me to do as a BCBA no other job had ever required. I’ve learned that what should’ve been required, no other place asked of me. But AZA not only required it but supported and provided and scheduled it all. In fact, everything is built into the AZA schedule for me. And it’s not overwhelming.
What I appreciate even more is they prep you and made sure you’re trained properly. They know the tools you may need, and they make sure you have them. And it’s a huge weight off my shoulders since I no longer have to advocate for this only for it to fall on deaf ears.
Training and support. This goes back to the founder and the principles AZA is founded on: being a nonprofit provider. From the beginning they’ve stuck to that standard and hired people who have the same attitude. Plus, AZA stays on top of science and innovation.
I have always wanted an organization where I can stay and put down roots. As a BCBA, those relationships that you make with the whole support team makes a difference on quality of care. Like BCBAs, if families find a good place to work with, they stay. And with the continued focus on excellent care and the coaching and support available, I want to be able to feel confident that my services are at their gold standard.
This hiring experience, although a stand-out and positive one, is not uncommon among AZA team members (no matter the role). Team AZA members join us for our culture, vision and mission and stay because they see that in practice in every possible way. They are encouraged and coached to grow in their roles and supported in their own development.