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PhD/PsyD Need some advice on how to be a better PsyD candidate

Discussion in 'Psychology [Psy.D. / Ph.D.]' started by Lostinsunshine, Nov 25, 2017.

  1. Lostinsunshine

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    Hello everyone.

    I am an international student, and I want to get into university-based Psy.d programs. Sadly, almost no student (less than 10 I guess) in my country ever applied/attended Psy.d programs. Therefore, I couldn't find any useful guidance.
    My plan is to take one year off after graduation (presumably next year) to increase my eligibility. Currently, I have two clinical-related internships: one is helping to provide LGBT-friendly counseling service to LGBT people, another one is working with psychiatrists in a renown hospital. I also spent several months being an RA with no publications in the end.

    My question is: should I work on research experience or clinical experience? Or both? Not sure how important the research experience is to top Psy.d programs.
    Also, I was checking WHO internship program last night,, which seems to be pretty irrelevant to clinical experience. Should I apply or just go to another organization?

    Thanks for anyone who provides thoughts, ideas, advice!
     
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  3. Justanothergrad

    Justanothergrad Counseling Psychologist
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    Research.

    Top PsyD programs look for the same things as top PhD programs and will have similar training models. If you start the grad school preparation/search/application process by eliminating a majority of the training programs out there as even a remote possibility, you are going to set yourself on a path where you are not really preparing yourself as well as you could. Plan to be competitive for graduate training in psychology in general (i.e., by doing research), and you will be the best off. Adjust where you attend based on the degree to which you are able to put together a competitive application package.
     
  4. Lostinsunshine

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    Thanks. I will also apply to some Master programs, 4 to 5 maybe, in case I end up with 0 admission to Psy.d programs.
    The problem is, I have no idea how competitive or unprepared I am since no reference point is available. The only case (in my country who went straight from undergrad to Psy.d) I know, is that someone with way less competitive background (less prestigious university, less clinical experience, non-psych major) went to GWU, a program with 50%~60% APA accredited internship match rate. So, I guess I have a chance for better programs?
     
  5. Temperance

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    Admission includes more than numbers. If your interests fit well with those a prospective mentor, then you are more likely to be admitted.

    What has you interested in PsyD programs as opposed to both PhD and PsyD programs? If you're looking to get into a clinical career, then you do not need to rule out applying to balanced PhD programs that place roughly equal emphasis on clinical and research experiences. You will be getting that balance at a top university-based PsyD program, anyway. PhD students, on average, have more clinical hours by the end of their training than PsyD students. Furthermore, if you can get into a fully funded PhD program, then that's less money out of your pocket.
     
  6. Lostinsunshine

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    Yes, you're right, fitness is a crucial element. I just haven't had the time to look into details of each program yet.
    Theoretically speaking, PhD students do receive the same amount of, maybe more, clinical training. However, from my understanding, the vibe/incoming students/faculty members/focus of program are somewhat different between PhD and PsyD. That's what keeps me away from PhD programs. Nonetheless, if I misunderstood it, then maybe I should keep an eye on balanced programs.
    Also, my career goal is to become a psychologist and promote improvement among certain population in terms of mental health issues. For example, higher help-seeking rate, less stigma, and so forth. Therefore, research shouldn't be my focus, although I can use some research skills for sure.
     
  7. jltpsyd

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    I think ideally you would have some experience with both clinical practice and research. I attend a PsyD program with a fairly high match rate and, while the program itself does not emphasize research, many of the competitive incoming candidate had/have research experience. Personally I did not have any research experience, but had 3 years of experience as a crisis intervention worker. I think a bit of both would be the best balance and the best use of your year off if that's a possibility for you.

    The first year I applied to psyd programs I did not get accepted anywhere. I had no idea about looking for schools that were a good fit. I would definitely focus on that and ensure that it makes sense why you are interested in any given program. I got accepted to multiple programs the second time around because I spent more time looking at the details of faculty interests and the program itself.

    Also, as an international student, you might want to give consideration to a program's emphasis on diversity. Anecdotally, I have a close friend who is an immigrant and a person of color. She was accepted to a 'top' psyd program by any definition, but the Director of Clinical Training personally pulled her aside and told her that many minorities feel uncomfortable in the community due to racial discrimination and anti-gay and anti-immigrant sentiments, and that she may not feel safe. She chose not to go there for that reason, and ended up at our program. While I think this is an extreme example, it may be something to keep in mind.

    Hope some of that helps, and best of luck to you!
     
  8. Lostinsunshine

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    Your information helps a lot! Doing both is possible for me. I guess the tricky part is to find a way to get solid clinical practice and balance my time next year.
    If not bothering, I want to ask a question: how to know a program fits you? The course catalogs they provide look so similar, I can hardly tell the difference. Anything besides faculty interests/school locations I should pay attention to?
    As for that 'top' psyd program you just mentioned, I might have a close guess which one it is...... Anyway, I already crossed some names off my list for that matter. Thanks for the reminder, though.
     
  9. jltpsyd

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    I think it's really tricky to know if a program fits you. Some schools have certain tracks that may be appealing (or unappealing), and that can be an indicator. For example, if a program has a child track and a general track, and you are interested in working with adults, I would look at the faculty 'split' as an indicator of how child or general focused the program might be overall. When comparing programs with some of the interns at the prac site I'm at now, I was surprised to find that some of them emphasized many different theoretical orientations (a full class on CBT, a full class on mindfulness, a full class on psychodynamic, etc.) whereas mine did not. Also was surprised at some offerings such as health psych, or substance use courses.

    Also, although it is really early to be thinking about internship, that is the capstone experience for psyd AND phd. So it could be worthwhile to look at when/how programs ease you into supervised clinical practice. Will you feel prepared to start seeing clients individually in the fall/spring of your first year? How saturated is the area as far as competing schools? Getting a practicum in New York City is much more rigorous and challenging than some other areas. Yet, other areas may have fewer options that are spread out further. Programs may have built-in clinics that are considered part of the training experience, and others don't. I think those things combined with faculty interests are helpful, plus the general feeling you get when you go for an interview. Even though it doesn't feel like it, you are also 'interviewing' the school. Let me know if you have any other questions! :)
     
  10. Sendtrees

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    I am not sure how being an international student would affect your ability to get loans or stipends. That would reasonably affect your decision-making. But that aside, I don't understand the thought process behind not even trying for funded PhD programs, especially if you have some research experience and are remotely competitive. Every prospective student (without family money) has one of two choices: put a lot of work, maybe over a few extra years, into the front end, and get into a funded PhD program to graduate with little to no debt; or put much less work (but still work!) into the front end and graduate with an amount of debt that will constrain your life choices for decades.

    It may be that to take the former path (more work, no debt) you have to massage your personal statement a little more, make yourself sound a little more research-friendly than feels authentic...but so what? You didn't say you hate the thought of research (and anyway, people with that strong of a negative reaction to research would be miserable in any decent doctoral program, PsyD or PhD).

    Don't focus on the program; focus on the faculty. Find faculty researchers who take graduate students and do the kind of work you want to do, and tailor your application to them. Much more info about this is found in various threads. When I was applying, I think I scanned through about 400 faculty researchers in my first go through. Oh yes, it was a gigantic pain. And that was before I even got to grad school. Sure feels nice to have savings, retirement, and 0 debt, though.
     
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  11. eeor1006

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    Another international student here. Be advised you would not be eligible for any federal student loans. You may be eligible for private loans, but they usually require a US sponsor. You won't be able to work off-campus, unless you do Curriculum practical training (CPT). As a result, graduate assitantshp and student employment on campus are your only options and they don't pay that well.

    I am in a fully-funded Phd program and I still have to pay quite a bit every semester for various fees plus international students' insurance (approx. $400). I think where I am getting at is that, unless you have sufficient financial resources, I can not recommend any programs that is not fully-funded for international students.
     
  12. psych.meout

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    Exactly. The problem that many people seem to have is that they think attending a PhD program means that you have to love doing research and that you will on the path to research or TT career options. This is in no doubt at least partly due to the false dichotomy narrative pushed by the PsyD programs, especially those from FSPS, but I think that the very hardcore PCSAS people also contribute to this with their dismissal of clinical positions as viable career options.
     
  13. singasongofjoy

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    Oh, I certainly beg to differ. If you're focused on higher help-seeking rate, a little research can go a long way to figure out what is working (and what is not) to improve help seeking rate in your particular area. And the factors that affect stigma sometimes vary from group to group.
     
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  14. Justanothergrad

    Justanothergrad Counseling Psychologist
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    Clinical practice can't be devoid of research because we are a science-based field. We make decisions based on findings (what treatments work, what tests are most useful and for which issue, etc.). Training has to involve research for this reason. Choosing to attend programs without a research base doesn't make sense (due to the nature of our field) any more than attending a chef training program that doesn't involve you cooking.

    Pretending that the outcomes in clinical skill and efficacy are the same without those experiences are fundamentally counter to all the evidence we have about training. Good clinicians are involved in research during their training. period.
     
    #13 Justanothergrad, Nov 28, 2017
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  15. Lostinsunshine

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    Hey, folks, thank all of you for the genuine advice! I will definitely rethink the PhD VS PsyD problem now. Still, my first choice will be top PsyD programs.
    My indifference to research is partially due to my first RA experience, which is boring and meaningless. I already contacted a new Prof. at my university yesterday, and her work seems fascinating. Hope this time I can find some excitement/meaning in doing research.
     
    #14 Lostinsunshine, Nov 28, 2017
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2017
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  17. logicpsych2012

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    If you don't mind me asking, what were your scores/credentials when you applied and got accepted vs applied and didn't? (and if they were the same, was it a different personal statement, or you just found better fit with programs by doing some digging?)
    I'm applying to PsyD programs right now and just wondering how I might compare
     
  18. jltpsyd

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    Without going into too much detail, my college experience wasn't really typical. I worked ~60 hrs/week to support myself throughout college, so extracurricular were basically out of the question. I had no research experience. None whatsoever. I double majored in psychology and human services counseling, and had a 4.0, graduated from the honors college at my large, public university. I was a student ambassador, and received 2 academic honors type awards. I don't remember my GRE scores (sorry, it's been a few years), I know they were good but not astronomical. I had job experience as an office administrator and a waitress.

    At the time of first application, I'd spent 1.5 years as a crisis intervention worker at a women's shelter. 2nd time around, the only thing that changed was that I'd spent 2.5 years in that position. But I think the biggest difference was doing more digging to find better fits. I didn't end up applying to ANY of the same schools. And also looking into the competitiveness. Because of financial limitations, I could only apply to 5. First time around, 3 out of 5 were EXTREMELY competitive and I didn't even know it. Second time around, I had a decent spread of competitiveness and cohort size, things I didn't even consider the first time.
     

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