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"Would you do it again?" - nonacademics

Discussion in 'Psychology [Psy.D. / Ph.D.]' started by psychQs, 03.08.12.

  1. cara susanna

    cara susanna Predoctoral Intern

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    I know, and as you can see I didn't ridicule that poster earlier. I just wanted to defend what I said originally, as that was part of the point that you made.

    Like I said, I wasn't trying to be political. Paul Krugman and I have almost opposite political beliefs, too.
  2. O Gurl

    O Gurl

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    I quoted the exchange that I was commenting on. While your comment (I agree) did not fall into the category of ridicule, wig and erg's certainly did. I am not the polite police, but felt that the way Pug was treated was unnecessary.
  3. cara susanna

    cara susanna Predoctoral Intern

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    Okay, fair enough.
  4. Sanman

    Sanman O.G.

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    Well, you have some points, but I think you are being overly critical about our curmudgeons. As for gripe 1:While a doctorate may or may not be as hard as medical school, it can be under-compensated when compared to other allied health and professionals fields of similar years of training. However, we have better options that other PhD academic fields. Being a hybrid degree, it really depends on your goals and how you are look at it. We also have the ability to still hang a shingle. Logistically, not many fields can say that anymore.

    Gripe 2: Yes and no. There are many fields that are difficult to make it in, but the issues with internship are really unfair. You should not have to compete with others to graduate from your program after years of being put into debt, in what is basically a lottery system. I do think that admissions standards and class size restrictions should be more strictly managed. I'd prefer to take my boo-hoo and move onto another career without a mountain of debt thank you. As you can see, I don't mind gripe 3

    The bottom line here is you have many different people with different gripes. The ones that I think are most disenchanted are those that went to professional schools and are struggling to graduate/ begin a career with large loans, those that want to live in the past, and those at the top who may see many of their professional accomplishments are not relevant to the jobs available on the market. For example, those that strive for academic positions and end up landing more clinical positions may see that their years of striving for publications was for nothing and that others get the same pay and benefits without all the agony. I often see psychodynamic/ psychoanalytic people in NY end up taking assessment or other jobs they have no interest and limited training in to pay bills because psychodynamic/analytic private practice just is not lucrative here anymore. As someone who is more middle of the road (funded program, more clinically oriented, interested in hospital health psych work, with a few pubs and good clinical experience) and trained in more up and coming areas in the field, I can say that I am not disappointed in my prospects at all, but there are things the field really needs to sort out.
    Last edited: 03.29.12
  5. psychgeek

    psychgeek Senior Member

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    Anyone else find the last statement ironic given the first six? Also, your vast experience as a psychology student probably does not make you qualified to question actual psychologists' opinions on the basis of that experience alone. Data?
  6. Therapist4Chnge

    Therapist4Chnge Neuropsych Ninja Faculty Moderator Emeritus

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    I hope you signed the Occupy The Imbalance Petition...:D

    I disagree that it was for nothing, as it is a good learning experience and I think a vital aspect of graduate training. With that being said, I do agree that for people who busted their butts and stayed extra years to get more publications....not attaining an academic position would be pretty rough.

    It sounds like you came into your training with at least a modest idea of the field and your path. I think students really get in trouble by NOT understanding the field, the market, and how their goals may or may not fit into these areas. It is beyond frustrating to see students come here (and into grad school) with a, "I don't care what you say, the market says, the field is saying...I'm going to do XYZ....", as 95% of the time the light at the end of the tunnel is a train. I think that is one reason why there is more push back with the less reputable programs because the costs just keep growing (tuition & loan % rates), and there is no course correction by students or the APA.

    There are far more problematic characteristics that plague the field than a perceived lack of humility and empathy. Being a quality clinician involves a combination of knowledge and interpersonal skills. I'd argue that without the knowledge....it doesn't matter if you have great interpersonal skills. There are definitely some people who aren't cut out to be clinicians, though I'd argue it is because they lack the former and not the latter.
  7. ClinicalABA

    ClinicalABA

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    I'd add "strong technical skills" to the mix as well, maybe even trumping "knowledge." Without good practicum experiences and strong individualized supervision, many students graduate without the technical skills needed to be quality clinicians (though they may be real knowledgeable about psychology and therapy, they just can't apply that knowledge). That can contribute to poor career advancement and lack of satisfaction.
  8. Sanman

    Sanman O.G.

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    Not to say that the process of publishing is not a valuable learning experience (though it does make me want to bang my head against a wall at times). However, I don't think you are gaining as much from your 15th publication as the first few. At that point, many in the field are staying up at night trying to outdo the competition. There is a point where learning has diminished and you are simply trying to build your CV ( for many) given that there are only a certain number of projects that likely peaked your interest in grad school and the rest you work because you have to do so, IME. I see so many shoot for R1 positions and no one tells them things like you are better off getting more teaching experience because that is what many smaller institutions are more interested in.

    You know, my journey was a combination of realizing that I would not be a superstar in grad school from the beginning (I have a chronic health condition and knew I would have to let things slide/be realistic if I wanted to get through without getting sick) and a thorough researching of the job market. I knew I liked neuropsych and health psych and saw both to be areas that would do well. My interests ended up more in health psych, but I have a strong neuro background as well. I also realize the importance of career portability (I like my career, but would not give up my relationship with my SO to move to the middle of nowhere and be unhappy outside of my career) and having a number of options on your path. Thus, I have gained military/VA experience as well to round out my options (I like the idea of service in capacity I can handle). I like teaching, but realize that it is something I can do as an adjunct. I just don't see many students or early career people in the field who have really done market analysis and know what job prospects and salaries to expect. As a result I see quite a few disappointed about the poor prospects of early career private practice (especially psychodynamic/psychoanalytic people), unprepared for academic careers below an r1 institution, and other who are disappointed in the salaries of their chosen area of the field (mostly those in college counseling centers and those working with children/families in community mental health). Those that chose a path more similar to mine seem happier in the field (VA employees, health psych people, neuropsych people, medical school/center academics).
  9. Therapist4Chnge

    Therapist4Chnge Neuropsych Ninja Faculty Moderator Emeritus

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    Great points. I actually started to write more...but I didn't have the time so I just hacked it down to those two. :laugh: Knowledge definitely falls short without mentorship because the information needs to be understood in context, synthesized, and then applied through various interventions.

    I have definitely seen more than a handful of people do "R1 or Bust", and most of them didn't focus on teaching because it got in the way of publishing. It is definitely a different mindset. Sadly, at the best R1s.....research productivity and grant $$ are king, and everything else is somewhat negotiable. I'm at a Top 10 R1, and the faculty members are constantly chasing $'s and trying to meet/exceed the productivity standards because the tenture track is SO competitive. I think only 1-2 of our faculty members actually teach with any regularity, though the responsibilities of med school faculty are a bit different than in a psych dept....so YMMV.

    *raises hand*

    I've been tracking the numbers for the past 5 years, though it was pretty difficult in the beginning to get good data because so few people actually talked about salary...let alone total compensation. It is important to differentiate between salary and total compensation because psychologists often work multiple jobs and have a lot more opportunity for soft money than the typical therapist. I was looking at a position at Virginia (or Virginia Tech?) awhile back, and they actually had a 'compensation calculator' that told you exactly how much your compensation package would be at a given salary and position (staff v. faculty, etc). A $75k position quickly jumped to $110k+ when you factored in healthcare coverage, paid vacation, licensure fees, etc.

    There are admittedly HUGE gaps in salary (and overall compensation) across job settings within psychology, though "Happier" is a bit of a harder thing to quantify. Everyone would love to make $200k+ & work at a job they love, but the reality is that there will almost always be some compromise...the trick is finding a job where there is a good balance for you.
  10. Sanman

    Sanman O.G.

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    Well, I would say happier in the sense of satisfied with where they are in their career and in life. 200k would be great, but I am talking much smaller numbers. I have talked to colleagues in some other settings and areas I mentioned and they are making, as licensed clinicians, the same or even a bit less than I am making unlicensed and I stand to make a significant salary bump (~20k + benefits) if I stay in my current position after I get licensed. I know someone that took a UCC post-doc for $20k. Another colleague, licensed, is struggling to afford a new car when his old one finally died and had to ask his parents for help. To me $75k to $200k is a spread, but one that at least affords all of those mentioned a living salary, the ability pay back loans and at least be comfortable. I have seen licensed colleagues, first year in practice, start out anywhere from $35k to $90k. That spans huge differentials in regards to being able to even afford the basics.
  11. Pragma

    Pragma

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    Ditto and that is the range I have witnessed as I have searched for jobs after I finish my postdoc myself. It is quite the range, and I made more than the lower extreme with my BA in Psychology.
  12. Therapist4Chnge

    Therapist4Chnge Neuropsych Ninja Faculty Moderator Emeritus

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    That is a very fair point. I haven't spent nearly as much time looking at CCs, CMHCs, and/or more therapy related settings...so my numbers are probably not reflective of them.

    It is scary to see $50k's in places like NYC...yet there is a job doing psych evals for the police dept. that is being advertised in that range. I knew I'd have a certain amount of debt coming from a Psy.D., so I did a lot of research up front about the different job options because working at a CMHC for $48k/yr* isn't going to cut it for me to enjoy a certain lifestyle and pay off my loans. I make in the $40s now as a fellow, and I can't imagine trying to raise a family on it.

    *completely made up salary.
  13. Pragma

    Pragma

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    Some of us neuropsych fellows have to moonlight as an adjunct instructor (for multiple courses per year) in order to hit the low 40's :cool:
  14. Therapist4Chnge

    Therapist4Chnge Neuropsych Ninja Faculty Moderator Emeritus

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    We aren't allowed to work outside of the fellowship. Of course...it isn't like I'd have time to anyway. :( I have more free time now, but the first year and a half was pretty slammed.
  15. Pragma

    Pragma

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    Yeah mine took a lot of negotiation! I'd say we are slammed, but most of the heavier days are predictable which has allowed me to selectively teach (with approval of course). The postdoc itself probably averages 55-60 hours per week (a 40 or 70 hour week happens on occasion), and as long as I keep grading to the weekends at home, my boss is satisfied.
  16. Therapist4Chnge

    Therapist4Chnge Neuropsych Ninja Faculty Moderator Emeritus

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    We were averaging 60+ (sometimes 70) the first year or so, but I also crammed in regular neurology didactics 3x wk, patho, seizure clinic, and at least a couple of case seminars a week. Now I just hit the really interesting talks and enjoy my time. ;)
  17. Sanman

    Sanman O.G.

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    You two are making me feel better that I went and got a job. I almost feel like a slacker pulling 50 hr weeks.:D
  18. positivepsych

    positivepsych Member

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    From Monster's Top 30 Fastest Growing Jobs by 2020:
    http://www.boston.com/bostonworks/galleries/fastest_growing_jobs_2020?pg=4

    Replacing clinical psychologists:
    Replacing health psychologists:
    Competing with psychologists:
  19. deadweight

    deadweight

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    Would i do this again? Of course!

    I just pass my Psychology license in California and is currently working for the county.

    Look, going i to this field if you are looking for money, then this field isn't for you.

    My journey: I got my bachelor in business. I end up working in an entry level mental health position because I am bilingual in english and korean.

    I went back to school to get my masters in MFT. So my schedule was hectic. I worked full time, had class three days a week, and had practicum. Life was busy. I wasn't making a lot at my full time job, but it was enough to survive in LA county. Furthermore, I hustled for those two years. After my MFT, i felt I didn't "learn" enough. I wanted more. So while working as an MFT intern (paid master level job) to get my hours for MFT license, I was going for my post-masters Psy. D (3 year program). It is not APA approved.
    In psy. d program, I was working full time as an MFT intern, getting my 800 hours of slavey for Psy. D, and going to school full time. I was looking at an 80 hour work/school week. I was doing my 1500 hours pre-doc, working full time, and studying for the MFT license.

    The way I see this field is, you never stop learning. Having your own practice is networking and getting your name out there. It is a referral business. It has countless opportunity such as EAP and QME as a license psychologist. You just have to network and learn. You can create and innovate your own job. You can write and sell products. You have a higher chance to get governmenr funding for a non-profit with a psy.d or phd behind your name. Be creative...we are psychologist, so thinj outside the box. Use the process of change and pre comtemplate and work through the process.

    In regards to student loans, I got $120k student loan for bachelor/masters/psyd total. I got half of it knocked off because I applied for scholarshops. Cal reach, mental assumption repayment loans, phillip scholarship for mft. There is alot of money out there. You just have to take the time between your dissertation to do this. Money is money.

    This field has given me a lot more the. It has taken. I am satisfied and happy. Be authentic and warm with your clients and people in your network. You will go father than most people in this field.
  20. ikibah

    ikibah MSW student

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    Thanks for bringing back this thread....I just spend a loong time going through it and I am now even happier with my choice of going the MSW route! WORST CASE two years spent building incredible skills.
  21. Therapist4Chnge

    Therapist4Chnge Neuropsych Ninja Faculty Moderator Emeritus

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    This thread is/was a great read…I just skimmed through it again.

    FWIW…it's 2.5 years later from my posts and I'm still pretty positive (though realistic) about working in the field. One of the most important aspects of my day-to-day work is being able to have flexibility in my schedule and the ability to work (and earn) more/less based on the amount of time I put in. This can be difficult to find in certain settings, but there are jobs out there that allow for this approach. Admittedly, the level of flexibility I require wasn't an easy sell at any of the AMCs that were recruiting me, though it was something I knew was important to me so I don't burn out or get bored. Now if I could only get them to pay for my country club membership….:D
    LAPsyGuy likes this.
  22. LAPsyGuy

    LAPsyGuy

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    My beloved professor said repeatedly that a career in psychology can provide for a happy life as long as you take the oath of poverty. It's obviously an overstatement, but he is right is noting that helping others through providing services, increasing scientific knowledge, and training other clinicians is very satisfying. I'm career changer, so I'm happy to be on somewhat unknown path. Thank you for a wonderful thread. It's very helpful as I prepare to officially enter the field of practice.
  23. erg923

    erg923 Psychologist-Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

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    You dont think that advice creates self-fulfilling prophecies, apathy about salary supression and reimbursment cuts, and insults the busines aspect of this profession? Why on earth would you condone this?

    You aren't being ordained when you take the licensing exam. You are a professional who should fight for the monetary worth of his/her profession and his/her work. I would emplore you not to spread/promote such nonsense. You can take a povery vow if you wish, but dont tell me I need to too. There is nothing about service to other that requires the servicer to be underpaid and undervalued.
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  24. LAPsyGuy

    LAPsyGuy

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    Like I said, it was an overstatement, and I think what he was trying to say was you won't get rich doing it. It was more of a reflection of his own values (being of service) and of the prevailing societal attitudes towards psychology (relatively low wages when training is accounted for). He worked at the VA and was a PTSD researcher of some note. I think he saw his service in the military the same way.

    So, no, I don't think the folk wisdom of a retired professor and humanitarian will result in your over the top concerns. Deep breaths.
  25. Therapist4Chnge

    Therapist4Chnge Neuropsych Ninja Faculty Moderator Emeritus

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    The earning aspect is mostly a function of a person's willingness and ability to pursue more lucrative opportunities. Academia is a tough slog at most places because only the top people (tenured faculty, administrators, and sometimes associate faculty) are making decent money. The APA and gov't workforce data offers good illustrations of the drop off in pay. That being said, academic medicine can be a more financially viable gig…if you don't get crushed by the RVU requirements. Some hospitals have very reasonable RVU requirements, while other places are not worth the hassle. The devil is in the details.

    As a second career person, I didn't want to take it on the chin after going through 8yrs of additional schooling, so spent a good deal of time learning the in's and out's of RVUs, trends in the industry, etc. to ensure I didn't get screwed. It isn't a panacea, but there are opportunities to make $100k-$150k/yr and have a nice work/life balance if a person chooses a good speciality area and can negotiate a decent/good package.
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  26. AcronymAllergy

    AcronymAllergy Neuropsychologist Moderator

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    Like T4C, just to check back in--I've only been in a "real" job for a little while now (relative to the time spent in training), but as of this moment, I'd definitely do it again, yes. I enjoy my work, my salary and benefits are nothing to sneeze at, I get relatively staggering amounts of autonomy and professional freedom, I get along well with my multidisciplinary colleagues (and they at least appear to value what I do), I'm able to participate in training as much as is desired, and I was able to find a job in a part of the country in which I actually wanted to live. The only downside to where I currently am is that research isn't as continuously-ongoing as it was at my fellowship site, but I'm hoping to change that as I get more integrated.

    So now we'll see where things are in another 2 years.
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  27. Stannis

    Stannis

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    This is my favorite thread, by far. Thanks for the honesty and its resurrection. Is there a similar one for academics?
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