Apr 6, 2019
1
0
1
Status
Psychologist
Hi all- Looking for some thoughts from people who may have been in a similar situation- I'm early career and already feeling kinda burnt out and disillusioned. I thought working in a healthcare setting would be my dream job. After working in a few different healthcare settings (VA and non-VA), however, I'm quickly finding myself really tired of all the ridiculous documentation rules, nonsensical mandates, dealing w/ ineffective (sometimes even toxic) leadership and teams, being both over- and under-worked etc. I worked so hard throughout grad school and now I'm thinking, for what?? I'm just feeling beat down.
I'm having a difficult time also disentangling if I'm just burnt out w/ psychology/therapy in general or if it's institutional/healthcare that is not a good fit for me. I'm wondering if private practice might be a better fit. I do like some aspects of academia (teaching & research), but I certainly don't think I'd be competitive or a good fit for a publish/perish type place.
I've considered a complete career pivot as well- anyone had any success with applying their clinical, research and/or teaching skills in settings outside of applied clinical jobs or academia?

Obviously I'm feeling a bit lost. I am talking with a therapist about my feelings about my current job/career but I'm feeling like I need more specialized career advice.
Any thoughts/recommendations for how to sort this out from folks who have found themselves in similar situations would be greatly appreciated. Or maybe this just a normal phase that passes?
 

PSYDR

Psychologist
10+ Year Member
Dec 18, 2005
2,660
2,164
281
Status
Option A: So you went through 5-7years of school and somehow missed that you hate the work.

Option B: You have a job that is so toxic that it made you question all the efforts of 5-7 years.

Option C: You’re bored, which means it’s time to find a new thing to learn about.

There’s undoubtedly other options.
 

Psycycle

Psychologist, ABPP
10+ Year Member
Jul 9, 2006
548
244
281
Status
Psychologist
Option A: So you went through 5-7years of school and somehow missed that you hate the work.

Option B: You have a job that is so toxic that it made you question all the efforts of 5-7 years.

Option C: You’re bored, which means it’s time to find a new thing to learn about.

There’s undoubtedly other options.
It's not that unusual to miss that you don't like the healthcare environment while you're a student. I certainly did not see the difficulties and problems in it when I was a student, because I wasn't an employee and didn't deal with a lot of the administrative/regulatory issues. Additionally, I didn't know as much as I know now, so some of the regulations and other things would not have troubled me in a way they might now. So it's likely she/he didn't just "somehow" miss it, but that he/she wasn't experiencing it.

It doesn't sound to me like it's just the current job that's the issue, the poster says he/she has worked in several environments. It is possible he/she doesn't like the work, sure.

To the OP - have you looked into things like private research firms? Private practice can also be a number of different things besides straight therapy/assessment - I know a few people with consultation aspects to their jobs that has been successful.
 

DynamicDidactic

Ass of Prof
7+ Year Member
Jul 27, 2010
1,008
366
181
Status
Psychologist
My advice is to think about what you actually want in life. What elements do you want or definitely don't want in your job?

For example, when I got my first real full time job in my early 20s, I realized that I have no desire for a typical 9-to-5. It seemed ridiculous for me to be at work just for the sake of being there, whether I had something to do or not. I also felt that most of my duties were perfunctory and my job didn't matter. I decided very quickly that I'd rather work more but do it my schedule and have agency over the results of my work. This made me find a research coordinator job for 2 years, 5 years of grad school, 1 year of internship, and 2 years of post doc. Then I got my first academic job, which allowed gave me many of the elements I wanted in my work. However, after 2 years I moved to another academic position (smaller school) that is a much better fit for me. But now I get to teach what I think is important, do the research I think is important, and limit unnecessary administrative interference. Not to say that 100% of my job is amazing but it meets many of my needs/wants/values. For example, I could make more money being a full time clinician but I would hate my job.

Your degree is very flexible. The question becomes what is it that you want out of work? Once you know the factors that would make you happy it is much easier to find a job to meet those factors.
 

PSYDR

Psychologist
10+ Year Member
Dec 18, 2005
2,660
2,164
281
Status
It's not that unusual to miss that you don't like the healthcare environment while you're a student. I certainly did not see the difficulties and problems in it when I was a student, because I wasn't an employee and didn't deal with a lot of the administrative/regulatory issues. Additionally, I didn't know as much as I know now, so some of the regulations and other things would not have troubled me in a way they might now. So it's likely she/he didn't just "somehow" miss it, but that he/she wasn't experiencing it.

It doesn't sound to me like it's just the current job that's the issue, the poster says he/she has worked in several environments. It is possible he/she doesn't like the work, sure.

To the OP - have you looked into things like private research firms? Private practice can also be a number of different things besides straight therapy/assessment - I know a few people with consultation aspects to their jobs that has been successful.
My read on it was “healthcare environment” which I termed the job. Might have not phrased that right.

But there’s a big difference between hating being a psychologist with hating being a psychologist who works in X speciality or Y environment.

@throwaway_psychdr consulting requires a lot more self initiative. There’s pharma trial firms that hire psychologists. The real money is in figuring out your skill set, where else it can be applied, learning enough about a given industry to be able to meaningfully contribute, and then networking. Ime, there’s a lot of failures before getting in. The money is extremely variable.
 
  • Like
Reactions: LadyHalcyon
Sep 18, 2017
8
20
11
Status
Post Doc
I know you asked for ideas outside of academia, but I do want to point out that many institutions do not have “publish or perish” expectations; some SLACs/teaching-focused institutions emphasize teaching, with a smaller amount of broadly-defined scholarship expectations.
 
  • Like
Reactions: throwaway_psychdr

AbnormalPsych

Clinical Psychologist
2+ Year Member
Dec 8, 2014
228
146
81
Status
Psychologist
I feel you, I have been there. Many of my peers have been there. I would definitely say move slow, take some time to reflect on what you want your life to look like long term. No shame in taking some time for that. I think making a major move quickly may be a mistake - and may make it harder to come back, but feel free to flex around a bit into different spaces if and as much as you can.

I recommend "So what are you going to do with that?: Finding careers outside of academia." It's a pretty good and quick read.

The business world is always looking for people with training in understanding human behavior and I know a few folks who have done well there. Also in marketing and health care and University administration.

Good news is our degrees are so very valuable in so many ways.
 
  • Like
Reactions: throwaway_psychdr

AcronymAllergy

Neuropsychologist
Moderator
Gold Donor
7+ Year Member
Jan 7, 2010
7,231
1,528
281
Status
Psychologist
Understandable. Do you still enjoy the actual clinical work itself (if you can separate that out from the administration-related frustration)? If so, private practice might be an option, although I imagine it comes with its own brand of headaches. Maybe see if there's any opportunity to dip your feet into that setting?

If not, then like you've said, it sounds like it could either be burnout, or just a change in interests. Like folks above have mentioned, there are multiple non-directly clinical options available, they just might require a bit more creativity and ground-level learning (as PSYDR mentioned).

Maybe also consider looking exclusively for institutional positions that involve time set aside for training? These can be tough to find unless you're acting as director of training (which you could certainly apply for, particularly if you have past experience), but there might be some options.