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MA in Counseling or PsyD?

Discussion in 'Psychology [Psy.D. / Ph.D.]' started by Jane Eyre, Jun 20, 2013.

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  1. Jane Eyre

    Jane Eyre

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    I am trying to decide between the two degrees and am really not sure which option is right for me. I have already been accepted into a Psy.D. program and a Counseling MA program. (did not get accepted into any Ph.D.'s.) I want to be a "dr" because of how good it feels to achieve and come out on top, I like school and love achieving things/ challenging myself. At the same time, I am not sure if the doctorate is necessary for my professional goals. I want to work with people and issues in their lives. I don't think I am as interested in research, but it is important to the Psy.D.program I was accepted into. The program requires a dissertation, which does not appeal to me. I am not sure if I want to do assessment or not. I also have doubts about my time management skills, but I know I am capable as I earned a 3.8 in undergrad. I just feel that getting the masters is a step down since I have always said I would be a "psychologist" not a "counselor". I guess I never respected the counseling profession as much because it didn't involve going for the top. Since I worked so hard in high school and undergrad to be accepted into multiple Psyd programs, I feel it I would be letting myself down by not going for the gold. But is this a good reason to go to school for 5 years and have lots of debt and pretty much be able to do the same thing except for assessment? I got advice that I should think mostly about what I want to do professionally (just counsel (masters) or other things too like assessment (psyd), but I am really not sure.

    Thanks for any advice!
  2. paramour

    paramour

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    I just departed ways with my program (PhD Clinical Psych) after 6 years -- with no degree. With your stated goals, don't waste your time or money with a PsyD. Attend a CACREP-accredited counseling program for your master's or even consider a MSW. Either will serve your purposes, be completed in a shorter timeframe, be more cost-effective, and be considerably more portable if you opt to relocate elsewhere in your future.

    G'luck.
  3. Jane Eyre

    Jane Eyre

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    Why do you think it is a waste of time and money? I've heard this before, just wondering your take. I heard Dr.s make more money even with the $60000 in loans I will have after a psyd.
  4. paramour

    paramour

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    See your other thread for reasons. And there are some positions where, yes, you may make *some* more money than a MA-qualified individual. However, if your goal is to perform therapy, then perform a job search. You will see umpteen million positions posted where agencies are looking for "MA, MFT, MSW, PhD/PsyD" qualified individuals and they do not differentiate among them for pay. In other words, a MA, a MSW, and a PhD/PsyD will get paid equally in numerous therapeutic positions. What's the point?

    As for prestige, I wouldn't bother with that one either. Most clients/the general populace don't know the difference between a master's and a doctoral level trained individual anyway. I've lost count of the number of times I've heard people refer to their MA-trained therapists as "Dr. -X."
  5. psychology24

    psychology24

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    Jane,

    I can relate to some of these same sentiments. I was 100% determined on a "ph.D" or doctorate (I was also interested in univ. PsyDs), not necessarily for the title, but because I wanted the challenge and higher education. I was in a MSW program and the education was incredibly sub-par. In addition, I heard stories from various patients about their treatment (MA-level counselors) and I just really felt like the counseling training as a whole must not be that good because clients are so dissatisfied.

    My advice for you is to take a VERY careful look at job prospects, weighing pros and cons, and thinking about financial issues. I understand this type of profession does not attract the "its all about money" attitude, but if you intend to have a family later down the road, having a sustainable and decent income might be important. I would take a second look at Master's level programs. Plus, after you finish the MA Counseling you could enroll in post-graduate certificates or training. Maybe even get connected with Psychiatry Residency to get more in-depth training. So all in all, with a MA in Counseling, it's really the counselor, not the degree.
  6. psychology24

    psychology24

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    + 1. Only minus the MSW route (unless it is one of the really good clinical social work programs)
  7. paramour

    paramour

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    There are decent MSW programs out there, just like there are sh*tty ass counseling programs. And they tend to have decent portability across states if you end up relocating for some reason. Think practically, folks. Don't make life difficult on yourselves.
  8. beBrave

    beBrave Goodbye until we meet again

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    Take it from someone who dropped out of a Clinical Psychology PhD program. It's not worth it. Listen to the other members. If you want to practice psychotherapy or counseling, consider becoming a LSCW (licensed clinical social worker) or getting an accredited Masters in Mental Health (skip the Psy.D; its not worth it) Otherwise avoid the field altogether and go to medical school. I'm taking a break from the forums but I felt compelled to address this. Going down the Clinical Psychology path can ruin your life. So stressful and then after years you discover that you made a mistake and you can't get those years of your life back plus you have bunch of student loan debt.
  9. Jane Eyre

    Jane Eyre

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    Thanks for the replies. Actually I was considering going into private practice (after working for a group practice) rather than working at an agency. I'm not 100% sure I want to do counseling and nothing else. I just dont know enough about assessment to know if I would like/be good at it. I think severe disorders are interesting (which you would deal with more as a psychologist). Which degree would you recommend in that case?

    Another consideration is that I want the highest level of training I can get to be the best psychologist/counselor.

    Also, while I'm not focusing on the money, I wonder how each would pan out financially. Counselors make $43,000 on ave, psychologists make $68,000. The Psy.D. program I got into (which has an excellent reputation and is APA accredited. It only accepts 14 students a year and has high internship match rates (85%)) would cost $60,000 total. The MA counseling program (also reputable and CACREP accredited) is $22,000 total (no living expenses for either). Once again its not all about the money by any means, but I definitely don't want to struggle financially. I also heard there is a glut of MA level counselors (harder to get a job?)
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2013
  10. mcvcm92

    mcvcm92

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    Your Psy.D program sounds pretty good, and it seems to be reasonably priced. If you can afford it without taking out much loans, then I would go for it if you really have a desire to be a doctoral level practitioner. But I also think that the Counseling Masters will be similarly valuable if you plan on doing just therapy.
  11. beBrave

    beBrave Goodbye until we meet again

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    Based on the description of the degree's you can choose between and your future goals, the best advice I can give you is to tune all of us out at this point and listen to your heart. Shadow both a Psy.D and an LCSW or MA Counselor. Psy.D opens the door to specialties like Neuro-psychology which is more medical in nature and focuses more on psychometric assessments. Shadow and follow your heart, only you know whats inside, If your heart says you want the title of Doctor then don't deny that either; just understand that the Dr title won't get you a lot more of anything if Psychotherapy is your ultimate goal. Please remember that only you know whats best for you. Look deep inside and then take a leap of faith and no matter what happens, don't give up. Along your journey remember that sometimes you must take one step backwards to take two steps forward. Be focused, be determined and most of all be brave :p. Good luck.
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2013
  12. Goobernut

    Goobernut MSW Student

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    Jane -- I sat down and practically answered the financial question. I am an older student, so while looking for a degree, time was a big factor for earnings. I calculated over 20 years that with the doctoral level degree starting at approx 20,000 more, by the end of the 20 years the doctoral level would make 100,000 more. Obviously if you are looking at more than 20 years, your returns will be different. Also, doctoral level has a higher top end wage than a masters level practitioner.

    In my cocktail napkin math I figured for time in training AND my worst case scenario predicted costs and debts for different programs. Eventually this comes down to a "make the best decision for you."

    I felt the same way you do about higher education and have mixed feelings only pursuing a masters level degree. I also discovered I actually like research hah :) I really had to soul search and I realized I'm good with following my own mixed path. Good luck to you :)
  13. xXIDaShizIXx

    xXIDaShizIXx Clinical Psychology Psy.D. Candidate

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    I agree, at least you are straight to the point.
  14. eagle4life

    eagle4life

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    don't go for the psy d program. sounds like you just want it for the "prestige" more than for the program itself, which doesn't even matter in the real world as no one knows the difference between a psychologist with a phd and a counselor
  15. xXIDaShizIXx

    xXIDaShizIXx Clinical Psychology Psy.D. Candidate

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    Just go for the program that makes you happy and is accredited. Try to keep it as cheap as possible, but in the end all that matters is that program gives you what you want out of your education.
  16. G Costanza

    G Costanza

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    I did the math and figured that when I finish my phd at the age of 35, I could go back for 8 years of med school and residency and still come out $2,000,000 ahead.
  17. Goobernut

    Goobernut MSW Student

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    Probably true hahaha. We could both go back and end up $2,000,000 ahead.
  18. xXIDaShizIXx

    xXIDaShizIXx Clinical Psychology Psy.D. Candidate

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    The grass is always greener on the other side. Especially on SDN.;)
  19. Goobernut

    Goobernut MSW Student

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    I've worked with docs, volunteered at hospitals, worked at hospitals... I do not want to be a doc or a nurse. I know that I know that I know it's not the life for me. Not interested in the schooling either. The grass is not greener for me. If it was about money, I'd go the I/O route. I think the prospects are slightly different due to it being tied to business.

    However I/O bores me to tears, so since what I make at the end isn't the most important thing for me, that's a no. Since this is my second career, I can afford to be picky.
  20. xXIDaShizIXx

    xXIDaShizIXx Clinical Psychology Psy.D. Candidate

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    Thats understandable seeing as it is your second career. Good luck hopefully you will figure it out eventually.
  21. AcronymAllergy

    AcronymAllergy Neuropsychology Fellow Moderator

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    My take on the matter is that in clinical psych in particular, there can be a good bit of "buyer's remose" for a variety of reasons: many clinical psych folks (who, by and large, tend to be rather bright) considered going the med school route at some point. Thus, when they get to grad school, they start realizing that A) grad school is tough, B) grad students aren't viewed the same as med students, C) psychologists aren't viewed the same as physicians (especially in many hospital/medical center settings, which is where many psych trainees spend a good bit of time), and D) there can be a pretty significant income disparity to boot. Thus, many of these psych students may then start to think to themselves, "gah, I should've gone to medical school instead."

    Having seen and/or taken a few med school classes, though, and having spent a good bit of time around residents and medical fellows, I have a sneaking suspicion that the majority of psychology grad students would be fairly miserable if they really did go to medical school.
  22. PHD12

    PHD12

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    It's so easy to pass judgement when you haven't even attended graduate school in clinical psychology. I'd like to see how would you feel if you spent 8 years of training post-college working your ass off and then ended up not matching for internship several years in a row, taking on an unpaid/barely paid postdoc or struggling to make ends meet several years after graduating. While many people live comfortably on a psychologist's income, there are also many people in our field who are struggling to make ends meet (particularly the growing #'s of graduates with 150K in loans) and many others who don't match for an internship despite doing everything right. These people are on SDN too. It is understandable why people regret going into this field. We have so many problems that would never even happen in another field from unpaid postdoctoral fellowships to a huge internship imbalance. In my opinion, people who aren't mad as hell at the decline of our field have a problem.
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2013
  23. xXIDaShizIXx

    xXIDaShizIXx Clinical Psychology Psy.D. Candidate

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    Yes this is exactly how I feel. You summed this up, for the exact reason that I can deal with a loss of perceived respect and a disparity in pay.
  24. Praxus9

    Praxus9

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    Hello:

    I completed a PsyD program in 2008 and I am now licensed in two states. I don't do extensive assessment and I am earning about $150,000 annually. I am very busy and there have been a lot of job opportunities. I am working about 65 hours per week, so I won't be able to keep up this pace over
    the long terrm, but I should be able to maintain at least $105,000-110,000 in the years ahead. There are a lot of factors to consider when picking a career path, but don't let the naysayers stop you if you would really like to pursue your doctorate

    Darren
  25. erg923

    erg923

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    Your modal psy.d student doesn't have this outcome (look at the stats) and sure wouldn't want to work that much if they value their family. Stop using anecdotal evidence and then suggesting to naive posters that everything will be fine because: "if I can do it, you can do it." This isn't angieslist!
  26. Sanman

    Sanman O.G.

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    Okay, yet again, I will ask what it is that you do to make such money. You keep posting the same anecdote with little information to back it up. Are you in private practice? Are you doing forensic work? Simply stating salary with no further information does not help, especially in psychology. Being quoted the salary of a forensic specialist when you want to do general outpt therapy is not useful. Please let us know more.
  27. Lisa44201

    Lisa44201

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    Your program boasts a whopping 44% APA internship accreditation match (admittedly better than the staggering 3.7% back in '05), and 68% of the graduates during the reporting period obtained a license (http://www.pcom.edu/Academic_Progra...cal_Psychology/APA_Disclosure_Statements.html).

    With that salary, graduating from that program, I'm going to suggest you're an outlier, and perhaps not representative of the graduates of that program.
  28. ikibah

    ikibah MSW student

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    First of all, THIS. Furthermore, I was in the exact same boat as you, and after having many many many many many many discussions with many different psyd's, phd's and lcsw's in my community (some whom I just cold called and asked to meet them, my gosh some people in this profession are nice), I decided that the lcsw path was the right one for me. Not to influence you one way or the other; I'm just letting you know I literally could have wrote your exact post on SDN about 6 months ago.

    Good luck! Let us know what you decide.
  29. Jane Eyre

    Jane Eyre

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    What are the benefits to getting a Psy.D. over an M.A. in Counseling (I am not considering the Ph.D.)? I know psychologists can do testing, but so can counselors. They just have to take some continuing education classes and be supervised for a while (?), according to one of my professors. Also as an M.A., you can work independently and even go into private practice after you are supervised for 2 years by a psychologist. I guess the only reason then for getting a Psy.D. would be to make more money (but you are more in debt to start out with) and to be called "Dr.", correct? I could get a Psy.D. for about 50,000 TOTAL, or an M.A. for free. Will I make more $ overall with a Psy.D. even though I am getting the M.A. for free? However, having the title of Dr. and achieving a lot in life is important to me too. Also, how much more respect will I get for having my Dr.? Which option is best?
  30. erg923

    erg923

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    To answer your zillion part question, just get a masters a be done with it i you have no real interest in the scientific aspects of clinical practice/psychology. And be please dont do any assessment.
  31. eowyne

    eowyne

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    The reality in many settings is that LCSWs do assessment. Not formal testing, but intakes and giving DSM diagnoses. So as far as I can tell, as PhDs and PsyDs we have a corner on formal testing and research. To be honest, most practicing PhDs and PsyDs I know do no formal testing - they could just as well have gotten a good MSW degree. My view is that if you want to do therapy, there is little reason to do a doctoral level degree - just more debt. If you want more evidence-based training, you can take continuing ed courses. If you want to work with seriously mentally ill patients in hospitals, there are most jobs for LCSWs than PhDs/PsyDs. Do a doctoral level degree if you want to do research and/or formal psychometric testing. Though you could also do a school psychology degree if you like testing kids...
  32. kelcan

    kelcan

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    Hi there. I just joined the forum because I came across this thread by searching for information on my future options for my schooling. I am 38 years old and decided to go back to school and completely change my career (I sometimes wonder what I was thinking, but I am happy with my choice). While I lived in Florida, I was counseling those with addictions. I was setup as an "intern" with my Psychology professor. I pretty much fell in love with the field and decided to pursue the Psychology degree, which I should have in the next 6-8 months. Being that I am so close to finishing this aspect of my education, I have been researching where to take my schooling next. I thought I wanted to pursue the PhD, but after reading this, I'm not sure now. Are there any references anyone can give me to further research the areas discussed in this thread? Ultimately, I would like to work in one of two areas, either working with Veterans or working in a Psychiatric Hospital. I do love the one on one counseling I was doing with the addictions, but I can see how it can wear you down after a while. I would like to pursue the schooling that will give me multiple options within my field. I know I sound rather vague, but this is why I am trying to do the research. I am happy that I found this site and hope that I can get some guidance. Thank you for taking the time.
  33. erg923

    erg923

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    Working with veterans doing what? working in a psychiatric hospital doing what?

    Unless you have interest in the scientific underpinnings of clinical work/application, then I suggest not doing a doctorate at all. I am really at a loss as to when to recommend the psy.d degree anymore. There aren't alot places I would recommend attending to get it and its full of stigma still...at least if you wanna do anything beyond clinical service delivery.

    If you want to do therapy (of all kinds), then get a masters and be done with it. Please drink scientifically, however, just because people here push the masters degree doesn't mean you should be become some crystal ball healing whack-job therapist.
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2013
  34. erg923

    erg923

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    I just want to add that, while agree that assessment is generally not a big part of the generalist repertoire, I strongly disagree with the "could have gotten a good MSW" comment. I am around a lot of social workers at my facility, and I approach and think about clinical and behavioral phenomena and the subsequent treatment/intervention options in a MUCH different way than they do.
  35. kelcan

    kelcan

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    That is why I am here, to get ideas and feedback as to where I can research these areas better. If I work with Veterans it would most likely be dealing with PTSD and working in a Psychiatric Hospital would probably be in a scenario of dealing with an assortment of disorders. I like the counseling aspect, as I stated before, but I was able to witness some of the addictions counselors that were so detached and distant to working with these people. I understand that separation is part of the job and that is not a problem, but they were almost dehumanized in their approach and I fear it is because they were wearing down from the doing the job. Burnout is a common thing in many professions. I have no desire to be a "whack-job therapist". I have a passion for it and I want to pursue it. I don't care about the money or how much can or cannot be made. I want to do this because it feels right and I enjoy it. Student loans are student loans. I have already accepted that I will probably die and still have them so I am willing to put in the time and money. But, my concerns lead me to which path on the educational road I should take. I do enjoy research and finding out the why and how behind things, but I also enjoy the interaction and to actually see progress being made. So, I am open to any suggestions on research strategies and references to figure out where I need to plan things out over the next year. Thank you again for your time.
  36. erg923

    erg923

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    1. Your perception that you will mostly be working with PTSD if you work with veterans is false, although a lot will say that have it. This is another reason why training in being a skeptical clinical scientist (not just a "therapist") is necessary if one wants to do solid clinical work...especially with this population.

    2. I will never understand the attitude of "I don't care about the money or how much can or cannot be made." Frankly, its a dumb statement....both on a personal level and on a professional level. The best way to undermine your profession and your profession's integrity and relevance is to undervalue it/your services. Trust, me, even if you don't, the system you work in cares how much revenue you produce for them. On a more personal level, this is not the priesthood we are entering. We are not taking vows of poverty here. This is a business just like any other. Please treat it as such. Please don't assist in driving down the salary offered to me because you "don't care about money." I have a wife and a young child. So...I do!

    3. I am not sure what you mean by "research strategies"?
  37. kelcan

    kelcan

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    I apologize for taking your time. I was under the impression that this was a forum to ask questions for future references in the field. I was not under the impression people (you) would be so rude in replying to inquiries about those wanting to work in this field. As for the money aspect, I made plenty of money in my previous career and was not happy. As I am pursuing this career, I am aware that I will be taking an approximate $40k cut in pay. It is the decision I made. Again, I apologize for taking your time in trying to open some doors in getting some insight into the field. I did not expect to have such a condescending response. I will take my questions elsewhere. Thank you for your time and good luck in your future endeavors.
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2013
  38. AcronymAllergy

    AcronymAllergy Neuropsychology Fellow Moderator

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    Overall, a doctorate is likely going to give you the most flexibility/options. However, you have to decide if said flexibility is worth the extra time, money, and various sacrifices (e.g., semi-frequent moves) that would be required. You'll also need to see if your application will be competitive for doctoral programs. If not, then you'll either need to take the additional time to make yourself competitive or, if that's not an option, then your decision may essentially have already been made for you.

    When it comes to the masters-level degrees, others can feel free to correct me, but my perception is that the MSW will provide the most flexibility. The VA hires LCSWs to perform a variety of roles, counseling included. And LCSWs frequently work in state psychiatric facilities/community mental health centers. Although in this latter setting in particular, as you've mentioned, burnout tends to occur pretty often.

    Beyond that, it's tough to offer much advice without knowing more about the situation. You could always try reaching out to psychologists and social workers in your community to see what they do, how much they enjoy their work, etc.
  39. kelcan

    kelcan

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    Thank you so much. I really appreciate your response and giving me some sound ideas and feedback.

    I no longer live in Florida so I do not have the contacts I had in the past. Semi-frequent moves and change is something that does not bother me at all. I just know I need to start looking into my options and which path I want to take. Right now, I am completely clueless as to what I need to do to prep for this, but know I need to figure it out. I don't even know where to start.
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2013
  40. CounselortoMD

    CounselortoMD

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    A number of years ago, I graduated from a very rigorous, highly accredited M.A. Program in Clinical Psychology. Immediately after graduation, I worked in the mental health field for approximately one year before I decided to peace out and go to medical school to become a "real doctor" instead. Of course, getting accepted into medical school was no walk in the park; rather, it turned out to be a time-intensive, financially expensive, and extremely challenging process (i.e., 35 prerequisite credits of difficult undergraduate science coursework--including the dreaded duo of organic chemistry and physics--plus the MCAT, which is just an insanely hard test!). Anyway, because of all this red tape in my way, over four years elapsed between my epiphany to pursue medicine, and the moment in August 2013 when I finally began my studies as a first-year medical student.

    So for those of you in the MSW/MA/Psychologist field, who ponder whether your lives might be better if you were a physicians (and perhaps sometimes even feel a bit of envy/resentment toward medical doctors--I want to further reassure you all that the grass truly does always seem greener.

    I can tell you this fact in no uncertain terms: Since my medical school classes began in late August (just a mere two months ago), I have already learned at least double the amount of information that I had learned throughout my entire two years of graduate education in clinical psychology. I can also say, without any doubt, that during these past two months, I have already studied significantly more hours, and expended more brute hard work, that I did throughout the entire two years of my M.A. program.

    Bottom line: medical school is no joke. Compared to this, graduate school was like a leisurely walk in the part!

    And the kicker is that, in order to have any hope of ever becoming a physician, I am guaranteed to be trapped within this sheer pandemonium of medical education for at least the next seven years (eight years if I happen to pursue psychiatry). Talk about overwhelming!
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2013
  41. AcronymAllergy

    AcronymAllergy Neuropsychology Fellow Moderator

    Joined:
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    Messages:
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    Status:
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    Psychologist SDN 2+ Year Member
    Keep in mind, though, that masters-level and doctoral-level study in clinical psych are often two very different things. I can say that the sheer volume of information required to be learned in medical school is typically greater than that in doctoral psych programs, but the latter can be more rigorous in other ways, as has been discussed on these forums before. Take home message: med school and doctoral study in psychology are both arduous tasks with fairly similar workloads and time investments for the average student/trainee, and neither of which should be entered into lightly.
  42. CounselortoMD

    CounselortoMD

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2011
    Messages:
    85
    Status:
    Medical Student
    SDN 2+ Year Member
    A number of years ago, I graduated from a very rigorous, highly accredited M.A. Program in Clinical Psychology. Immediately after graduation, I worked in the mental health field for approximately one year before I decided to peace out and go to medical school to become a "real doctor" instead. Of course, getting accepted into medical school was no walk in the park; rather, it turned out to be a time-intensive, financially expensive, and extremely challenging process (i.e., 35 prerequisite credits of difficult undergraduate science coursework--including the dreaded duo of organic chemistry and physics--plus the MCAT, which is just an insanely hard test!). Anyway, because of all this red tape in my way, over four years elapsed between my epiphany to pursue medicine, and the moment in August 2013 when I finally began my studies as a first-year medical student.

    So for those of you in the MSW/MA/Psychologist field, who ponder whether your lives might be better if you were physicians--and perhaps sometimes even feel a bit of envy/resentment toward medical doctors--I want to further reassure you all that the grass truly does always seem greener.

    I can tell you the following reality in no uncertain terms: Since my medical school classes began in late August (just a mere two months ago), I have already learned at least double the amount of information that I learned throughout my entire two years of graduate education in clinical psychology. I can also say, without any doubt, that during these past two months, I have already studied significantly more hours, and expended far more brute hard work, than I did throughout the entire two years of my M.A. program.

    Bottom line: medical school is no joke. Compared to this, graduate school was like a leisurely walk in the part!

    And the kicker is that, in order to have any hope of ever becoming a physician, I am guaranteed to be trapped within this sheer pandemonium of medical education for at least the next seven years (eight years if I choose to pursue psychiatry). Talk about overwhelming!
  43. Therapist4Chnge

    Therapist4Chnge Neuropsych Ninja Faculty Moderator Emeritus

    Joined:
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    My Island of Denial
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    Psychologist
    SDN 7+ Year Member
    Thank you for your belittling comments. Being that you are "a mere two months" into your training I'll cut you some slack and just chalk this up as first year bluster of being an M1. Based on these comments, good luck in your studies...I think you'll need it.

    -a guy who has taught in two Top 10 medical schools / residency programs.
  44. Rebecca F

    Rebecca F

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2013
    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    Keuka College
    Status:
    Psychology Student
    I am an adult psych major, and can honestly say that the psych and social work departments at my college are entirely different. I have taken social work courses, and been blown away. Very different school of thought...at the same college.

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