Dissertation/research match for NP internship?

Discussion in 'Psychology [Psy.D. / Ph.D.]' started by roryportman, Feb 11, 2019.

  1. roryportman

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    For NP internships, how much of a role does candidate's dissertation topic/research area play? In terms of aligning with the site and increasing/decreasing odds?

    I'm a 2nd year, and I thought I wanted peds NP and pretty much agreed my 1st month in as a PhD student to have my dissertation be something pretty specific w/ my advisor. But for various reasons, now I am wondering if I should switch to adults, aging, dementia while I have the chance (right before starting dissertation, wrapping up masters project). I'm thinking ahead to internship, and would it look odd if I apply to adult sites while my dissertation is on children?

    I also very much dislike the idea of not going through w/ something I committed to, reg. advisor. I have heard that switching advisors after masters project is common though. Thoughts?
     
  2. WisNeuro

    WisNeuro Board Certified Neuropsychologist
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    There was a paper a while back (newish when I was in grad school) that empirically looked at factors that increased chances of neuro postdocs and neuro specific training opportunities. Those with a neuro specific dissertation had an increased likelihood of landing neuro postdocs.

    As for future work, I would try to align my work going forward with what I want to do for a career. I've only been at adult sites, and sometimes we get people who apply to work with us who have 90% of their clinical time seeing peds and adolescents, and research only in kids stuff. They don't tend to get ranked. It's ok to switch over as you go through grad school, plenty of people do it, so as much as you can transition your experiences towards adults, if you want to work with adults going forward, try to do it. Make sure you can tell the story of that transition through your CV. Otherwise, we're confused about your application and wondering if you just blanketed apps without really researching sites.
     
  3. NeuroWise

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    I recently participated (peripherally, as I'm still a trainee) in the neuro internship ranking process. A dissertation generally in line with the training objectives of the internship (e.g., adult or peds) was a factor in the rankings. As WisNeuro said, this was a discussion among the faculty like, "This person wants to do adult/geriatric clinical work with us and their dissertation is generally consistent with that." It was really broad strokes kind of stuff.
     
  4. Pragma

    Pragma Neuropsychologist
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    "It depends" to some extent. I think it is a positive if your dissertation fits the site and suggests that you are bringing knowledge/skill/perspective that could be of use for your patients. Not having something that fits isn't necessarily a deal-breaker if you make your knowledge and fit with the site known in other ways. But if it is something odd, like writing a peds dissertation while targeting adult sites, then it would be more of a red flag.

    You always need a narrative to tie your experiences together - how you went from some initial line of inquiry to others, and how that was informed by (or informed) your clinical work and career trajectory.
     
  5. Therapist4Chnge

    Therapist4Chnge Neuropsych Ninja Faculty
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    Do what interests you, that should be first and foremost bc you will spend A LOT of time learning it inside and out.

    Matching to a neuro site for internship is far from a dealbreaker. It can be helpful to have a neuro rotation on internship, but plenty of ppl go to a generalist site and match to a great neuro fellowship. Fellowship is what jobs care about and it is where most of the best learning occurs IMHO.

    As others mentioned, you need a good narrative to your CV that explains why you shifted focus, etc. I did a lot of peds eval in my first two years (research & clinical), but I shifted and stayed with adult assessment. I had a good narrative to explain my change in interests and all was well.
     
  6. OP
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    roryportman

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    Thanks everyone for taking the time to reply! I'll be sure to make sure the narrative makes sense when the time comes. I think at this point it's manageable. I would be able to have all of my clinical experiences (NP externships) be lifespan and adult. That way, it seems my app would fit in okay for generalist internship sites? With lifespan/adult clinical work, with neuro dissertation on children/adolescents. It's nice to hear that fellowship matters more in terms of jobs.

    To add a bit more info, I'm hesitant to switch research projects bc I've already been collecting data for this and have written proposals, etc on it. I've basically invested quite a bit of effort and time into it already. Tbh, I don't know if I love love the topic anymore; but I'm reluctant to "start from scratch" on another project when I'm on track to finish dissertation milestones on time w/ this one. And, hopefully have internship 5th yr.
     
  7. attitudelikeasunrise

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    I'm still a student, so not an expert on the selection process, but I have another thought on this topic from a slightly different point of view. I applied exclusively to internship sites that had adult neuro tracks because that is my area of interest. My dissertation topic did have a neuropsychological component, but it was primarily centered on substance use, which is not at all an area that I am pursuing in my career. The advantage I did have though was that I stuck to my dissertation timeline very well and therefore was able to successfully defend before doing internship interviews. I can't be certain exactly to what extent this may have helped me, but the faculty members/training directors I interviewed with were pretty enthusiastic and impressed by the fact that I was already finished at that point. Also, there were no other applicants that I knew of in any of my interviews that had already defended by that time, so it definitely seemed to be a distinguishing factor. If your current project is closely related enough, it might be worth it to stick with it if you think that you will be able to defend early and get a competitive edge in that way.
     
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    roryportman

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    @attitudelikeasunrise wow, that is pretty amazing that you were all done with your dissertation before interviewing! Hm, I think my interests may be "close enough".. I'll consider it more. Thanks for sharing!
     
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  9. McCartney

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    Anecdotally, my dissertation was in pediatric neuropsych, my internship was primarily adult neuro with the option of some pediatric rotations (which I did), then I decided I wanted to only do adults and am now completing an adult neuro postdoc. I started recruiting for my dissertation at the beginning of my second year when I wasn't sure what population I wanted to work, and for a while I thought I wanted lifespan, then settled on only adults. My research being in peds was not significantly detrimental to obtaining the sites that I wanted. If anything, I was able to incorporate how my knowledge of peds and development helped my approach to adult patients.
     
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    roryportman

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    @McCartney sounds a lot like my situation! I have already recruited and ran my study on children/adolescents as a second year and am now realizing perhaps lifespan or adults is better for me. Were you questioned about the switch during internship and fellowship interviews? Thank you for sharing!
     
  11. Pragma

    Pragma Neuropsychologist
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    As long as you can explain it clearly and the explanation makes sense, then you should be fine for a lot of sites. Folks weigh the importance of dissertation topics differently out there.
     

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