Jan 20, 2012
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Psychology Student
Hi everyone,

I am in a horrible situation in my clinical psych, PhD program and need some help/advice. Although my program comes from a generalist perspective, I have sought out practicum placements in the behavioral medical setting (i.e., pain, bariatrics, C/L) on my own (that were approved by my program) for the past three years of being in this program. I am in my fourth year and basically forced into a practice placement in the school setting for the second time. I conveyed my concerns, but my program believes I am not receiving the "traditional" therapy experience.

Luckily, I have traditional, long-term therapy experience from my master's program, but feel as though I will not be a good candidate when I apply for internship with two years of practicum experience in a school setting. Basically every time I question the reasoning why I am being placed in a setting that will not be helpful, I get reprimanded. It's almost like I am being pushed into a corner. I have no else to turn to because none of the faculty members want to help me.

With all of that being said, I am truly on the verge of dropping out, especially since I am not receiving a stipend. I am not sure what else I can do and wondering if I should leave the program. Thoughts? Advice??
 

psycscientist

7+ Year Member
Feb 1, 2011
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Hi everyone,

I am in a horrible situation in my clinical psych, PhD program and need some help/advice. Although my program comes from a generalist perspective, I have sought out practicum placements in the behavioral medical setting (i.e., pain, bariatrics, C/L) on my own (that were approved by my program) for the past three years of being in this program. I am in my fourth year and basically forced into a practice placement in the school setting for the second time. I conveyed my concerns, but my program believes I am not receiving the "traditional" therapy experience.

Luckily, I have traditional, long-term therapy experience from my master's program, but feel as though I will not be a good candidate when I apply for internship with two years of practicum experience in a school setting. Basically every time I question the reasoning why I am being placed in a setting that will not be helpful, I get reprimanded. It's almost like I am being pushed into a corner. I have no else to turn to because none of the faculty members want to help me.

With all of that being said, I am truly on the verge of dropping out, especially since I am not receiving a stipend. I am not sure what else I can do and wondering if I should leave the program. Thoughts? Advice??
It makes sense to not be exclusively specialized in your clinical experience in graduate school, given that you are supposed to have a solid generalist base before specializing. Your Master's level experience will not be seen as equal to your doctoral experience to internship sites. Are you a child person? If so, a practicum in a school seems like a good way to get diversity of experience. If you are not a child person, are there alternate practicums that could provide you with more diversity?
 
OP
P
Jan 20, 2012
31
0
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Psychology Student
Thanks for your response, psycscientist.

No, I am not a child person and voiced my concerns with 1) the population being an issue 2) being placed at the same place again. I tried reaching out to past supervisors at the medical school in my program and unfortunately, told me they do not know if they can find a practicum placement for me. I had to fight for the non-traditional practicum sites in my program. I really feel like I am at a crossroads. I even asked if I could be supervised by psych interns at the medical school and they rejected that, as well.

I think it's true that my master's hours won't weigh as much, but quite honestly, I feel I received better training there then I have in my doctoral program. It's really sad, but at this point I feel so defeated. I just don't know if leaving the program over this is the right thing to do. I even proposed my dissertation... that's how far along I am. I just don't want to put in all this work and not land a good internship site. Will being at the school hurt my chances?
 
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Ollie123

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Feb 19, 2007
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Just to clarify since I'm a little confused...you completed 3 years of bmed practicums but are worried its not enough since you are now in the schools? Or you've never had a chance to gain bmed experience? I ask because your last post seems to imply you did get experience with bariatrics and c/l.

If the former, I wouldn't stress about it. If anything, exclusively bmed experience would likely hurt your chances of landing a good internship. Its certainly important to have some focused experience in that area prior to applying, but you are still first and foremost a clinical psychologist. Is your mentor active in the bmed field and are you publishing on behavioral medicine topics? That would further mitigate any concerns about your emphasis.

Either way, it seems silly to drop out at this point. The purpose of graduate school is not to land a good internship, its to have a successful career. There are ways to shift your focus and specialization after finishing, even if it might be a bit more challenging to do so depending on what you did in school.
 

psycscientist

7+ Year Member
Feb 1, 2011
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Thanks for your response, psycscientist.

No, I am not a child person and voiced my concerns with 1) the population being an issue 2) being placed at the same place again. I tried reaching out to past supervisors at the medical school in my program and unfortunately, told me they do not know if they can find a practicum placement for me. I had to fight for bariatrics and c/l. I really feel like I am at a crossroads. I even asked if I could be supervised by psych interns at the medical school and they rejected that, as well. I comprised with my program by telling them I will stay at the school for a year, but will need to find an additional behavioral medicine practicum in the Spring and Summer. They agreed with that, but cannot guarantee they would be able to find a practicum placement suitable for me.

I think it's true that my master's hours won't weigh as much, but quite honestly, I feel I received better training there then I have in my doctoral program. It's really sad, but at this point I feel so defeated. I just don't know if leaving the program over this is the right thing to do. I even proposed my dissertation... that's how far along I am. I just don't want to put in all this work and not land a good internship site. Will being at the school hurt my chances?
How does this school not have established practicum placements for adult students in typical therapy settings? It sounds like even a standard outpatient clinic serving adults would meet your needs better than a school placement, given that you do not want to work with children. It's hard to say if the school is going to hurt your chances without knowing the specific school and it's associated match rates.
 

WisNeuro

Board Certified Neuropsychologist
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Feb 15, 2009
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How does this school not have established practicum placements for adult students in typical therapy settings? It sounds like even a standard outpatient clinic serving adults would meet your needs better than a school placement, given that you do not want to work with children. It's hard to say if the school is going to hurt your chances without knowing the specific school and it's associated match rates.
I'd also be concerned about the lack of a stipend. Most schools with that criteria and others mentioned do not fare well in the match.
 
OP
P
Jan 20, 2012
31
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Psychology Student
Sorry for the confusion earlier. Yes, I have practicum experiences in behavioral medicine practicum sites. I received a stipend the 1st two years, but haven't since then. Match rates for my program have been good. And, when I asked if being at the "school" will hurt my chances of landing a good internship, I meant the practicum placement that I will be at this year.

I agree that an outpatient clinic would serve better, but no one will supervise me since it's not a "traditional" practicum placements and most of the supervisors are overwhelmed with other responsibilities. My program does not offer a diverse set of practicum sites (which is extremely disappointing).
 
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cara susanna

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I definitely understand being unhappy, but I wouldn't be worried about internship competitiveness based on it. I know a lot of people who've done the same practica for two years and matched.
 
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I agree with the posters who say it shouldn't be too much of a problem. If you are even asked about it (which is not likely) when you get to the internship interviews just make sure that you have a positive take on it and don't use the question as an opportunity to vent your frustrations. :eek: I have seen people get carried away with emotions in interviews and it never goes well for them. Just remember that the higher the stakes, the greater the anxiety, and the greater the anxiety the less rational the thought process. It's not like your whole career is riding on this stuff... Oh wait, never mind, it is. I was terrified through much of the process because I wanted to be a psychologist so much and the further I got in the process, the more I wanted it, and the more pressure felt to accomplish the goal. My family was already thinking that I was wasting way too much time in school, if I hadn't become licensed, I would have been the laughingstock. "Yeah, he went to school for ten years for nothing." I am thinking that many of us feel similar pressure. I am thinking that the whole "on the verge of dropping out" is related to this. :cool:
 

Ollie123

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In that case, I wouldn't worry about it. Is the issue really that you are concerned about its impact on your likelihood of matching or just that you don't like the school setting? Most people applying won't have 3 years of bmed experience, so it makes sense to round things out a little bit (and that's a perfectly fine thing to say at interviews). Kids probably isn't ideal for an adult person, but its far from the end of the world and could be a selling point if they have peds health rotations. I didn't have 3 years of bmed experience and interviewed at several of the top sites for it (MGH, Boston Consortium, MUSC, etc.). Wound up ranking other places above those and landed one so don't know how if I would have landed there, but I can't imagine it being much of an issue.

No one's practicum experience is perfect. I actually think it will hurt you less to have 2 years in the school than it would to have 4 years of only bmed and nothing but bmed. The fact that it sounds like most of your research experience and publications took place before grad school (if I understood correctly?) is far more likely to be what holds you back at top sites than "only" 3 years at bmed sites.
 

Koogy

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Jan 4, 2015
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Like everyone else on here, I'm chiming in to support the university counseling practicum. The student population is a lot sicker these days than say even 10 years ago, so you would get good experience dealing with anxiety, depressive and maybe even personality disorders. In any case, having something different on your cv will only help since you have a very strong health psych background already. Whatever you do, do NOT leave your program. That would be a tragedy. Focus on graduating!! The internship sites look more at your hours. If you want an internship site within a hospital system, you already have the experience in that field in the bag. So work on diversifying your "generalist" skills. Don't pigeon hole yourself into one area yet. That's what post doc is for. So go for the university counseling setting. College student clients will help you develop those generalist skills more. Perhaps even run a few groups so that you get versed in that too.
 

SmithPsy24

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Jan 13, 2011
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I don't see where being in the school would harm your applications. You would be getting a long-term therapy experience and while it's not a population you plan to work with, it might prepare you better for say, family medicine settings where you work with a lot of adults but also adolescents and children.

(Incidentally, I'd also be cautious about how much detail you're posting here. Most PhD programs aren't large so it's harder to be anonymous.)