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"Help me decide" mega thread

Discussion in 'Psychology [Psy.D. / Ph.D.]' started by IcedBennu, Mar 23, 2012.

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  1. simplybaroque

    simplybaroque

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    I want to eventually get my PhD in Counseling Psychology. However, I plan to work a few years between getting my masters and my PhD in order to 1) knock out a LOT of debt that I have that would be impossible to handle on a PhD stipend, and 2) maybe start a family. Assuming I want to get licensed and do counseling in the interim (maybe in a school setting), would I be better suited getting an M.Ed in Counseling or a MSW?

    I hear the MSW is better because the LCSW/LMSW designation is respected and there is also a lot of independence. But since my eventual goal is a PhD (and being a licensed psychologist), do the "independence" and insurance laws even matter?
     
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  3. Chalupacabra

    Chalupacabra Ph. D. Student (School Psychology) 2+ Year Member

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    1) Aside from credit card debt you won't have to pay debt if you're still in school.
    2) I have worked with a lot of people since starting my program (professionals in the field) who had similar intentions and never made it back. My current supervisor told me she had similar plans and gave them up once she had kids because she found the idea of giving up her current level of pay and sacrificing time with her kids untenable. Once you're in the field going back to school means taking significant pay cuts (if not going unpaid entirely), and grad school is an incredibly hectic time, plus your decisions will then affect your spouse and children and many people feel uncomfortable putting themselves first - I am not trying to sound judgmental, just expressing that many people I know felt themselves it would be unfair to go back to school and put that level of stress (financial and otherwise) on their family. Everyone in my program who had kids really wished they had more time to spend with them and their spouse and it seemed to be a really taxing time for them. The only one who gave up an existing career and had started a family was only able to do so financially because her spouse is a very successful attorney. I did have a great professor who went back and got her PhD in Counseling Psych but she waited to do so until after her children were in college. Again, I am not saying this is impossible, but I think very few people understand the level of inertia that typically occurs with people once you're in the field; there's a lot of factors pushing against going back to school.

    There have been a few threads about different degrees to get and their advantages/disadvantages. If you are really anxious to start a family in the near future a terminal degree and/or one where you can be licensed such as an LCSW, MFT or LMHC may be your best bet. That way you have the option of starting a career or going back to school. I would definitely NOT get a degree that cannot lead to licensure under the assumption you'll take a few years off and go back, though.
     
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  4. eremitestar

    eremitestar 2+ Year Member

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    I agree with Chalupacabra. I went basically the route you're talking about (licensable MA in counseling, then onto a counseling psych PhD). There were some folks in my program who talked about taking a couple of years off, then going back for a doctorate. We're almost six years out now, and none of them have. There are a few problems with this plan. One is that it takes two years after graduation to get licensed (this can vary by state, but this is pretty typical for counseling and social work licensure). This means that you may just be getting licensed by the time you're hoping to hop back into grad school. Another potential problem is the amount of relocating that often comes with grad school. I moved to a different state for my MA program, then again for my PhD program, again for internship, and I'm moving again this summer for postdoc. That would be much harder to do if I had a spouse and/or kids to worry about. I've known people who spend internship year away from spouses, and sometimes even their children. For that reason, I've chosen to wait to start a family until I'm done with school completely. Granted, that comes with its own set of sacrifices, and isn't the path for everyone, but it's what made the most sense for me. I'm not saying your plan won't work, but I would definitely spend some time thinking through all the implications.

    As for your original question about masters programs: there are students in my counseling psych PhD program with MAs, MSs, MEds, and MSWs. I think as long as you receive good training, and get both research and clinical experience, you can make that transition. However, I think you may wind up having to take more classes if you go the MSW route (I was able to waive a bunch of lower-level classes that I had already taken in my master's in counseling program, but students who came in with master's degrees in other areas had to take a lot of those courses). I would also echo what was said previously about making sure your masters is licensable. However, licensable programs tend not to be research heavy. I got a part-time job as an RA during my master's program to supplement my clinical training and make me a stronger candidate for a doctoral program.
     
  5. simplybaroque

    simplybaroque

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    Thanks for the replies, both of you. The debt is all consumer debt, so alas I would need to continue repayment during grad school. As for starting a family, that is actually very back-burner for me (I'm not fond of young kids; it's always been a "someday I'll get around to it" mentality). Up until 3 months ago (when I started seriously dating) I didn't even want children (or marriage), if that's any indication of its importance, haha.

    That said, thanks for the advice regarding the licensable masters. The programs I'm looking at are all eligible in my state, though granted if I got a MSW I would be eligible for either the LPC or the LCSW (out of curiosity - has anyone ever tried to pursue both?!) I'm already in a lab so I'm not too worried regarding the research experience. Just wanted to make sure that I didn't face prejudice from Counseling Psych programs for choosing one or the other (M.Ed in Counseling vs. an MSW). Do the PhD programs give any weight to whether you're already licensed as an LPC or LCSW?

    tl;dr - M.Ed in Counseling or MSW, if I want to get into PhD Counseling Psych? :p
     
  6. eremitestar

    eremitestar 2+ Year Member

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    In my experience, as long as the master's is in a related field then you should be fine. There are people in my program with both degrees. I also don't think having the license has any impact on acceptance. Many people (myself included) go straight from master's to PhD without taking the time to get licensed in between. Several people in my program (myself included) actually got licensed during the PhD program. We used our PhD practicum hours as post-degree master's hours. This allowed some folks to work at local agencies or in private practice in the later years of the program. I think the big benefit of doing a master's in counseling is that more of your master's coursework will be transferrable to your doctoral program. If you go the MSW route, fewer classes will overlap, and you may wind up taking more courses overall. However, there does seem to be more job flexibility for MSWs (assuming, of course, that you would be interested in case management positions). This seems to vary by area, though, with some places being more MSW-friendly and others more LPC-friendly. I would say that it would be more cost-effective in the long-run to do a counseling master's, as long as you're certain about going for a counseling psych doctorate afterwards. If you're uncertain about a doctorate program, or want to play things safer as far as master-level work goes, then MSW might be the way to go. I can't say that either path is "better." They can both get you where you want to go, and both have pros and cons. I think it comes down to what is more important to you.
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2015
  7. simplybaroque

    simplybaroque

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    You rock. Thanks for the help! :)
     
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  8. Psych_Case

    Psych_Case

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    I am seeking advice/wisdom from others in-the-community...

    I currently hold an MA in Counseling Psychology. I'm employed as a full-time faculty member at a community college. And my school offers a generous tuition waiver program (18 hours/year). I am location-bound, given my full-time role. So, I applied to a couple of doctoral programs within driving distance. And, now, I'm in a situation where I've been accepted! At both schools! I've been in various forms of shock, gratitude, thankfulness, etc... And, now I'm in a situation where I'll have to choose between the two...my OCPD tendencies are engaged in a collection of "pros/cons" lists, etc....Looking for a fresh perspective...

    So, Program "A" offers a Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision. Program A is housed in a top-50 college of education. And, they're in the process of obtaining CACREP accreditation for their doctoral program. Program "B" offers a Psy.D. with an emphasis on Clinical Psychology. It's a new program that is seeking APA accreditation.

    My long-term goals are to continue to work in education (eventually secure a tenure-track faculty position) as well as practice on-the-side. I realize, both programs have pros/cons.

    Any thoughts/advice from those in-the-field?
     
  9. AcronymAllergy

    AcronymAllergy Neuropsychologist SDN Moderator 7+ Year Member

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    Mod Note: Although the poll was unfortunately lost, given the topic, I've merged this into the "Help Me Decide" sticky.

    As for my take, it sounds a bit dicey for either choice, given that both are currently seeking (rather than already holding) accreditation. However, your career goals are likely going to factor into which of the two might represent a better choice.

    Is the Psy.D. program housed in a traditional university, or is it more of a free-standing professional school? Regardless, the lack of APA accreditation is going to make securing an APA-accredited internship tough, which can significantly limit career options depending on what it is you'd like to do.
     
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  10. Psych_Case

    Psych_Case

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    Thanks for the response! The Psy.D. Is part of a traditional university psych department (as opposed to a professional/freestanding program). However I share the same concerns regarding accreditation for both programs. My current state does not require APA accreditation...but I realize (if the PsyD does not gain accreditation) I'd be limited in opportunities to relocate...

    I've read other sites that report folks cannot teach or secure tenure with the PsyD? I also have an interest in research (I'm the weird student who enjoyed the masters thesis and research courses). So I also have concerns over the lack of research training opportunities in a PsyD.

    However I also have concerns over the availability of teaching opportunities with the phd in CES. Plus, I already LPC eligible so I would not gain any additional licensure opportunities.

    Thanks again for your help!!!
     
  11. Chalupacabra

    Chalupacabra Ph. D. Student (School Psychology) 2+ Year Member

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    Two of the three core faculty members in the program I just finished are PsyDs and both have tenure. I have never heard of those restrictions before.
     
  12. WisNeuro

    WisNeuro Board Certified Neuropsychologist 7+ Year Member

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    Yeah, there is no restriction here. Although I would agree that it would be difficult for someone from a no/light research PsyD to get a tenure track position as a faculty member in a position where they were expected to do research. Depends on your CV. If the poster wishes to keep the research door open, I would advise them to do their homework and make sure they find a balanced program.
     
  13. clevermintt

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    I am currently a rising senior at university, and I am planning on going into Clinical Child Psychology. I have a major in Psych and a minor in Health Systems Management, (hospital management) and was planning on working in a hospital either during or before graduate school.

    I want to just gauge my options here because I know for a fact that my GPA isn't the strongest. I'd just like feedback on if I should focus on working out of college and then applying to clinical programs after? Personal problems freshman year and then I was Pre-med before doing my Psych major which didn't help my GPA at all. Lots of C-'s, C's, and B's, until Chem destroyed my sophomore year GPA. Switched to Psych and HSM and I've been on an upward trend since, but it's not a competitive GPA.

    2.6 cum and 2.97 psych gpa. This semester raised both to 2.7 cum.

    I have two years of research experience where I have worked in the same lab in visual cognition with an amazing professor who would be willing to write a letter of rec. I am also doing research with a professor this summer in anger in children from hostile areas, along with two internships with social workers - one at DCFS and another at an alternative school. I have also worked at numerous child care jobs.
    I worked in a school and did a job at a summer camp for hands-on child experience.

    I'll be taking the GRE in September of this year, and am starting to study for it now.

    I was wondering what I should start looking into to strengthen my application as I would really like to practice hands-on clinical psychology, like seeing patients and such. I'd also like to know if it would just be better for me to apply to MA counseling programs. What are the limitations with an MA? What kinds of salary should I be expecting? I want to know if it's better for me to pursue a MA or PH.D if what I want to do is therapy/clinical stuff. What kinds of limits am I looking at with an MA? Is it worth it to get an MA in counseling if I know I'd like to do clinical therapy later?

    Please let me know!
     
  14. Chalupacabra

    Chalupacabra Ph. D. Student (School Psychology) 2+ Year Member

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    I can't speak with the same degree of authority as some of the regulars here who are faculty, but I imagine it's going to be an uphill battle to get into a good doctoral program with that GPA. If you're only interested in therapy you can do it without a PhD (e.g. LMHC, LCSW). I'd recommend looking into Master's programs either way, as you're most likely going to need to improve that GPA significantly to be competitive if you do decide that you ultimately want to go the PhD route. Also, have you looked into the BCBA? That's one way to do a lot of work with kids with behavioral issues (ASD, anger issues, etc.) as well.
     
  15. LauraH8214

    LauraH8214 2+ Year Member

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    Just out of curiosity would you guys pick the Denver PsyD or adelphi PhD?
     
  16. WisNeuro

    WisNeuro Board Certified Neuropsychologist 7+ Year Member

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    Depends on for what, and what your financial situation is.
     
  17. LauraH8214

    LauraH8214 2+ Year Member

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    Clinical psychology. Got no aid at denver but loved the program on interview day. Got some funding at adelphi and a good advisor. Husband can work to cover cost of living. But I think about denver often especially since I hate Long Island
     
  18. WisNeuro

    WisNeuro Board Certified Neuropsychologist 7+ Year Member

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    I meant specifically within clinical psychology, do you have a proposed specialty area?
     
  19. LauraH8214

    LauraH8214 2+ Year Member

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    Want a private practice. Already did a masters and realized I like psychodynamic theory a lot
     
  20. WisNeuro

    WisNeuro Board Certified Neuropsychologist 7+ Year Member

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    So, general practice? Also, just remember that Denver is about 1200 a credit hour before other associated fees. Looking a pretty big chunk of change you'll be paying back in loans. Also, I'd talk with other private practice folks about how their practice is changing due to healthcare changes. The trend in my area has been to get out of PP and into an AMC or other type of group.

    Long story short, if those are the only two choices, I'd go with Adelphi for financial reasons, although both have match rates lower than I'd advise.
     
  21. LauraH8214

    LauraH8214 2+ Year Member

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    Yeah Denver took credits but also was not willing to approve them before you accept. This made punching the numbers hard. I went with adelphi bc of money and also the advidor had good connections. I also thought a PhD might be better as far as variety with career paths? I am confused by the match rates cause Adelphi has a long history at mass General and Denver has its own sites
     
  22. WisNeuro

    WisNeuro Board Certified Neuropsychologist 7+ Year Member

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    I think the accredited match rates are about 80% for Denver and 70% for Adelphi. Both have larger than average cohorts.
     
  23. LauraH8214

    LauraH8214 2+ Year Member

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    Sorry last question... You are very helpful! - if you already have an ms in clinical psychology would this kind of debt and moving across country be worth it?
     
  24. psycscientist

    psycscientist 5+ Year Member

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    Not if your only goal is to do therapy in private practice.
     
  25. WisNeuro

    WisNeuro Board Certified Neuropsychologist 7+ Year Member

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    If the masters was license eligible, and I had zero desire to ever pursue teaching, research, or ever be employed at many state and federal jobs, I wouldn't do it due to the cost. Depends on what you want to do, many people who solely want to do PP therapy, probably don't need a doctorate. Just know that it limits your flexibility a good amount.
     
  26. LauraH8214

    LauraH8214 2+ Year Member

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    I think I know the answer but is it at all possible to change your mind about the program you picked this late in game?
     
  27. WisNeuro

    WisNeuro Board Certified Neuropsychologist 7+ Year Member

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    Most likely not. If it's a reputable program, they've already finalized slots for the upcoming year and made their offers several months ago.
     
  28. eremitestar

    eremitestar 2+ Year Member

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    DU is REALLY expensive. Also, the Denver area is saturated with psychologists. There would be a lot of competition if you were planning to stay there to set up your private practice. I'm in the counseling psych program at DU, which fortunately offers funding. When I interviewed, I was told flat-out to not plan on staying in Denver for internship or for my career (though landing a Denver internship is easier for GSPP students due to the captive internship consortium they have set up). Anyway, I would NOT go to DU without funding. It's crazy expensive, and you probably won't be able to stay in Denver long-term anyway.
     
  29. LauraH8214

    LauraH8214 2+ Year Member

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    Thanks! I wish I had known about the counseling program before applying as I bet it's great. I loved the Denver area so it was hard to pass up on but the other program at least offered some funding and was cheaper without funding to begin with. ...( nearly died when I saw it was 54k a year at denver) But I'm not a fan of Long Island but guess I should suck it up. Thanks for the advice!
     
  30. smalltownpsych

    smalltownpsych 2+ Year Member

    To be a successful psychologist it really helps to be geographically flexible. I moved for internship thus securing a solid APA-accredited experience that led to a good postdoc position in that same area. Since then, I have moved each time for the two jobs that I have had as a licensed psychologist. Each time I was able to increase my compensation by about 75%.
     
  31. LauraH8214

    LauraH8214 2+ Year Member

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    Thanks ! This is the first move so it is difficult. Moving from south to north is also hard but hopefully will prepare me for future moves.
     
  32. John Lock

    John Lock

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    Hey, I'm thrilled to hear you want to get a PhD. One bit of advice I would give, I'm currently a PhD candidate for a non-clinical psychology doctorate. It is very challenging a lot of fun but hard. I would advise not taking a break between your masters and PhD of more then a year. If you take time off for a career or family I can guarantee that you will never go back for your doctorate or if you do it will be 10 or 20 years down the road, there is nothing wrong with that if that is what you plan. Just something to think about! Good luck!
     
  33. erg923

    erg923 Psychologist-Health Insurance Operations 10+ Year Member

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    This is a silly statement.
     
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  34. chicandtoughness

    chicandtoughness 2+ Year Member

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    Career question: Is it possible to work as a (full-time) psychologist in a university counseling center AND be a part-time faculty member (lecturer, adjunct, etc.)
     
  35. Therapist4Chnge

    Therapist4Chnge Neuropsych Ninja Faculty Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

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  36. Justanothergrad

    Justanothergrad Counseling Psychologist 2+ Year Member

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    As Erg said, this is silly. I had no problem going back after taking a few years off. In fact, my experience has been those those students who take a few years off (3-5) tend to be more grounded, know a bit more about what they want in life and from the training, and approach things far differently.
     
  37. chicandtoughness

    chicandtoughness 2+ Year Member

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    Can you elaborate? If working full-time as a university counselor, would I be relegated to only early morning/evening classes? Is this something I would apply for separately, or something I should negotiate after I get the first job? I understand it's not something super common within the SDN crew, but maybe someone has tips.
     
  38. WisNeuro

    WisNeuro Board Certified Neuropsychologist 7+ Year Member

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    Your full-time position takes precedence. You work whatever hours have been negotiated and then you see what you can do after that. I see plenty of clinicians who teach evening classes at local universities, but it's more on your own time, after the hours of your full-time work.
     
  39. chicandtoughness

    chicandtoughness 2+ Year Member

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    I see. I was referring to teaching at the same university where you worked - something negotiated formally. Though I suppose they might not view that in a good light, since it looks like you're spread too thin?
     
  40. WisNeuro

    WisNeuro Board Certified Neuropsychologist 7+ Year Member

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    Ah, may be a better question for a counseling psych person, that specific situation is less common in the clinical psych realm from my experience.
     
  41. LAPsyGuy

    LAPsyGuy 7+ Year Member

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    UCC positions tend to be 8 to 5 type of positions, though I've seen lots that are 4 days per week.
     
  42. eremitestar

    eremitestar 2+ Year Member

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    Yes, but I think it will depend on the university. I come from a counseling psych background, and someone from the UCC taught some classes in my master's program. It wasn't every semester, more like one class/year. It didn't happen at all where I did my PhD, though. This can get tricky, not just because of scheduling, but also because even psych students need to access UCC services at times. You have to be careful not to have your clients in your classes!
     
  43. chicandtoughness

    chicandtoughness 2+ Year Member

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    Good point, didn't even think about that. I can see all sorts of conflict of interest arguments arising there. I suppose the cleanest option would be to adjunct at a community/juniorcollege separate from the UCC where I work :)
     
  44. eremitestar

    eremitestar 2+ Year Member

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    Yeah, the person who taught occasionally in my master's program only taught master's-level classes that there were multiple sections of so that any students who were also former/current clients could still take the class with another professor. It would be much harder to do if you were interested in teaching at the doctoral level or in a specialty area where there's not another section and the course won't be offered again for another year or two.
     
  45. cara susanna

    cara susanna 7+ Year Member

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    As others have said, I'm not sure that the hours of a UCC job make adjuncting possible. Even if it did, I think I'd advise against this. I adjuncted at a local CC and ran into a few dual relationship issues working at our department clinic, which was not affiliated with the CC. Once I had to not do an intake because the client happened to be a student of mine, for instance. If I ran into these problems with a department clinic, not a UCC, and at a different school, imagine how often you'd run into it working at a UCC at the same school. To me, it wouldn't be worth it.
     
  46. chicandtoughness

    chicandtoughness 2+ Year Member

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    Thank you so much for your answers, everyone. I have one more hypothetical question: for practicing psychologists who want to also conduct research on the side... how is that possible? I've heard of clinical psychologists at teaching hospitals who also do some lab work, but how about more "practical" psychologists such as VA practitioners, UCC psychologists, or school psychologists? Do they volunteer to help with research at university labs? Or are you SOL since you can't really get grant money without institutional support?
     
  47. WisNeuro

    WisNeuro Board Certified Neuropsychologist 7+ Year Member

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    Easy, we have IRB's and many of us are also affiliated with a local university. We also happen to have a readily available clinical population. Now, there is a difference in how much control we have over research sometimes. It's much easier to do retrospective research, but I've also been able to prospective stuff. Also, I've usually had at least a little time set aside in my week to do some research. Never been a huge problem to do about 10% time for me as a VA clinician. Really just depends on how much work I want to put into something rather than a lack of resources and opportunity. Plenty of those lying around.
     
  48. chicandtoughness

    chicandtoughness 2+ Year Member

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    Cool, this is great to hear :) I definitely want to be a practicing psychologist most of the time, but I still like research enough that I'd want to work on a pet project here or there.
     
  49. WisNeuro

    WisNeuro Board Certified Neuropsychologist 7+ Year Member

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    Yep, just remember that an APA accredited internship is a requirement for VA jobs where this is common. So, pick your grad school accordingly if you want this to remain option as an option for this particular instance.
     
  50. chicandtoughness

    chicandtoughness 2+ Year Member

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    Another silly question for y'all. How much research is "too much"?

    My situation: I've reached out to several professors in my city who are doing research that is applicable to my interests (mainly anxiety/stress disorders). It's a popular topic, so I'm not surprised that I've found many labs who are doing research in this area. I've gotten interviews / informal offers from 4-5 of them. That's a lot of labs, but since they all require about 10 hours per week, I can feasibly work at 3-4 without killing myself (my classes are in the evening, so no conflict there, and travel time is minimal).

    However, does this make me look scattered or unfocused? Like I'm spreading myself too thin? The practical part of my mind reasons that the more breadth of research I have, the more I'll learn. And the more projects I work on, the greater my chances of getting publication. However, the emotional/subjective side of me wonders whether this might be a detriment to adcoms who would rather see me work at a single lab and be super dedicated/loyal to it.
     
  51. Therapist4Chnge

    Therapist4Chnge Neuropsych Ninja Faculty Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

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    I'd rec no more than two. They may "require 10hr/wk" but any opportunities you have beyond the grunt work is the most valuable and you'll want to at least give yourself the opportunity to take on additional work. As for breadth/depth…I'd try and pick two places that offer different experiences…one may be more data entry and the other may be collecting the data, etc.
     
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