PhD/PsyD Considerations for favorable ROI in regard to PhD

Jun 2, 2020
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I just finished the first year of a Clinical Psych PhD program and am thinking about how to shape my training so as to be best positioned for a favorable ROI. I'm beginning a neuropsychology externship in September and have a masters degree in organizational psych, as a hopeful selling point for future leadership endeavors. I've read that neuropsych is a promising specialty in regard to financial compensation and employment opportunities. What can I/ should I be doing now to provide a solid foundation for the years to come?
 

WisNeuro

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As for leadership endeavors, I'm sorry to say the masters won't mean much in many healthcare orgs. The only masters they carte about in leadership positions there are MBAs and MPHs. Additionally, they don't like to hire doctoral level providers for those positions when they can pay a masters level person less. VA may be a different story, they actually still have predominantly clinical team leads.

As for neuropsych, do a few practica, but make sure you're well-rounded on the therapy and research side of things. What we do generally requires much more statistics and research background on a day-to-day basis than some other clinical areas, so we definitely take that into account when looking at internship/postdoc/job apps. I'll veto anyone for any of those apps who does not have substantive research experience.

Other than that, go to AACN/INS/to a lesser extent NAN, and network. Neuro is a relatively smaller niche, and many of us know each other, even in different geographic regions. We definitely talk to each other about applicants.
 

PsyDr

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A subject near and dear to my heart.

Advice:

1) Pay attention to the lifestyles of professors. You'll hear a lot of professors talk about fascinating work. That stuff is cool, but it does not pay the bills. You'll see who is wearing expensive clothes (pay attention to the shoes above all else). You'll see there are some professors that regularly mention things that cost a lot of money (e.g., expensive vacations, second houses, boats, airplanes). You'll also see professors that are clearly struggling more than they should. Use that to guide what you are pursuing.

2) Do NOT take advice from professors that are financially unsuccessful. Don't be a jerk to them. Listen. But don't take their advice as it relates to money.

3) Learn the history of clinical psychology, beyond whatever that stupid textbook is. IMO, there is a tendency for the new subspecialities in psychology to offer greater income. As specialties become less new, the income seems to go down (e.g., psychoanalysts were absolute ballers in the 1940s, neuropsych is newer and does well, forensics is newer and does well, RxP is like 15 years old and pays very well, etc). Use that to guide your decisions.

4) Learn about payor sources. Any idiot can look up the CPT code for psychology stuff on a CMS website, and multiply that code to see how much you can gross (not net). Once you learn about this, you can keep an estimated running tally in your head of what you would bring in during practica or internship. DO NOT SAY THIS TO SUPERVISORS. It will piss them off.

5) Develop relationships with professors, and ask for career advice. It's an easy way to suck up. The more information you have about that, the easier it is to evaluate others' advice, and the easier it is to make decisions.

6)Kids affect things. IME, many, but not all, female psychologists who decide to have children work fewer hours over the course of a year. I would recommend keeping this in mind when getting advice. I would also recommend considering this factor if you decide to have children. It's important to have kids and raise them well. But it does affect income. In short, you can't compare the productivity of someone who can work until 10pm with someone who has to leave the office at 2:30pm to pick their kids up.

7) When something comes across your plate, ALWAYS ask yourself what the reward is. It could be non-financial, but it must have a point. For example, there is basically no way that writing a book or chapter is worth the lost income. However, it may help in marketing how awesome you are.

8) Consider where you are in your career. If you're 65, have tons of cash, a paid off house, etc... well you can volunteer for stuff. If you're 30, and have $300 in your account... that's not a time you can afford to give away your work.

9) I would HIGHLY recommend reading practice books. There's not many out there. They're easy to read.

10) Listservs are an incredibly way to learn. Free. Put it on digest. Read it once a week.

11) Google various psychologists to see what they do.

12) When you learn something, ask yourself, "How can I apply this to making money?", "Who would pay for this?", "Who CAN pay for this?", etc.
 
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MamaPhD

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4) Learn about payor sources. Any idiot can look up the CPT code for psychology stuff on a CMS website, and multiply that code to see how much you can gross (not net). Once you learn about this, you can keep an estimated running tally in your head of what you would bring in during practica or internship. DO NOT SAY THIS TO SUPERVISORS. It will piss them off.

OK, this is probably sound general advice, but if a trainee did this in my presence, I would applaud.

To add to what's been said already, graduate school is a good time to figure out the work you enjoy, the work you can tolerate, and the work you dread. To be candid, I tolerate clinical work so that I have access to the other work I love doing and access to a desirable combination of salary, benefits, and flexibility. Your tolerances and compensation requirements will differ, but beware of spending a lot of time on work you dread for the sake of compensation alone.
 

erg923

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I just finished the first year of a Clinical Psych PhD program and am thinking about how to shape my training so as to be best positioned for a favorable ROI. I'm beginning a neuropsychology externship in September and have a masters degree in organizational psych, as a hopeful selling point for future leadership endeavors. I've read that neuropsych is a promising specialty in regard to financial compensation and employment opportunities. What can I/ should I be doing now to provide a solid foundation for the years to come?

There are a variety of other (although not that many) avenues in which a Ph.D in Clinical Psychology can be used to serve the healthcare system or corporate system in which you can use most all of ones clinical, research, academic, and thought-leadership training/skills.

A Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology doesn't necessarily mean that you have to see patients all day every day (like some kind of assembly line worker), "just teach" at small college, or be some kind of "research-hound" writing grants at a university or academic medical center so that you can write papers that several dozen people may (or may not) read of the course of your 30 year career. There are other options.
 
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PsyDr

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@MamaPhD One’s interpersonal style probably will affect how receptive supervisors are. If we were musicians, I’d be a toddler trying to use a coffee can to play the anvil chorus while I'm guessing you'd be like a concert violinist.

@AbnormalPsych In grad school, my PI farmed me out to one visiting guy for some cool study. Then I realized he had roommates, and ate at Burger King. Aaaaand I was done with research as a career.
 

Sanman

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@MamaPhD One’s interpersonal style probably will affect how receptive supervisors are. If we were musicians, I’d be a toddler trying to use a coffee can to play the anvil chorus while I'm guessing you'd be like a concert violinist.

@AbnormalPsych In grad school, my PI farmed me out to one visiting guy for some cool study. Then I realized he had roommates, and ate at Burger King. Aaaaand I was done with research as a career.

Was it the roommates, the burger king, or the combination that did it for you? lol

My first mentor in undergrad was a visiting professor working towards tenure track status. As we were a public university, we were able to get staff salaries, including his, via a FOIA request. That killed my research ambitions as well.
 

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