Mar 26, 2010
23
0
0
Status
Pre-Psychology
Hey I have a question...

So I know that people say clinical experience is not important for applying to grad school, but if you would comment on this situation, I would really appreciate it:

Right now I'm in a position where I am about to embark on a full-time job as a study coordinator. This job will last for two years, after which I will apply to grad school. I have had close to no research experience and I wanted to ask people if you think I should try to add on volunteer clinical stuff to the full time job I'm about to embark on. If so, then suggestions as to where I should look would also be appreciated (like what types of things, not specific hospitals). My top interests (for clinical) are severe pathology (schizophrenia, MDD, Bipolar, etc).

But my main question is: Would trying to add on volunteer be too time consuming? (Obvi I'll see when I start working but just wanted to see what you guys thought.) Or is it fairly important since I plan to apply to equal-emphasis Ph.D's?

Any info would be lovely so thanks!!
 
Last edited:

Featheredwyngs

7+ Year Member
Jan 12, 2010
91
55
171
USA
Status
Psychology Student
Hey I have a question...

But my main question is: Would trying to add on volunteer be too time consuming? (Obvi I'll see when I start working but just wanted to see what you guys thought.) Or is it fairly important since I plan to apply to equal-emphasis Ph.D's?

Any info would be lovely so thanks!!
Ha. I remember you.

Adding on volunteering can be very time consuming, unless you do it (limited) on the weekends and find a place that is happy with you volunteering only (limited) on the weekends.

To be frank - you should be more than fine with just this job. Especially if you're applying to clinical Ph.D. programs. Does it hurt to add stuff on? Of course not. But you have to balance that with how much it helps and if it's at the detriment of you pursuing things at your main job (publications, posters, etc. time wise). I have a very very very very very (I will reemphasize here very) similar job position and I did not need to supplement it. [PM me if you'd like to know more. :D]

It's great to be prepared, but I wouldn't worry too much about it. Remember, although having some patient interaction can be good (which you will get at this job most likely via assessments etc), your recommenders will speak to your empathy and a program will not expect you to have any clinical training (they will want to train you in their style). I want to highlight that if you feel you really want that exposure and aren't getting it at your current job (at all), then you can always seek volunteer positions after being at your job for a couple of months (and seeing if you can really balance it). [Edit: So, I mean, there's really no rush in my mind... especially when you can make a better informed decision later.]

Of course if you really want to volunteer, because that's what you love and you find a great position to volunteer at (with a population that you love), then go for it! I did some limited volunteer work these last two years that I was passionate about, but no one asked about it (even at balanced programs). My experience has been that things like publications carried more weight. Yes, working with specific populations (in a more clinical style role) can help - especially if you're applying to a person who is looking for someone to do just that - but personally, I don't think it will make a huge difference. I'm sure you've checked out this thread and the conclusions drawn from it:
So in my opinion from this limited sample, GRE and GPA both have a cutoff range (although GPA a lot less clear) while clinical experience has little to no relevance.
In sum, I would volunteer if you feel you are gaining something personal and positive out of it, but not bank on it making you any more competitive for graduate school applications. I hope that made some sense...
 
Last edited:
Jan 14, 2010
78
0
0
California
Status
Psychology Student
Speaking from personal experience, I would recommend volunteering at a suicide or crisis hotline. The program at which I volunteer requires a year commitment, with the understanding that one will volunteer 4 shifts a month (1 day a week, or whatever works best for the volunteer), with each shift lasting a little over 4 hours.

It has been incredibly rewarding, and had been an amazing experience in terms of interacting with people with mental illnesses. It sounds a little intimidating at first, but you get extensive training and (at least at my program) plenty of support.

Also, congrats on the great research opportunity!