chman

5+ Year Member
Jun 7, 2009
3,003
15
Status
Pre-Psychology
Hey guys,

So I have looked long and hard for a paid RA position since I graduated undergrad in June. I was really hoping to get one in my area of interest (something in anxiety or traumatic stress), and while I did get some great interviews, nothing really panned out aside from a temporary position.

Recently, I landed a paid RA position with my alma mater (a major public research school) in the department of medicine. I took it since A) I need the money, and B) it is research. I will be recruiting participants at different sites (including the VA), interviewing, taking physical measures, data stuff, etc. Basic RA stuff. The PI (a medical doctor) also said I could probably eventually do a poster on some of the psychosocial measures they take (and I was honest with him about my ultimate goal of a PhD in clinical psych).

So, my question is; is this position going to be seen as sufficient (providing other measures are up to snuff) when applying to Phd programs in clinical? I know it probably won't be looked at as as good as an RA position in clinical psych itself, but will it make that much of a difference if I make a good case for a connection between the work I was doing at the position and the work I wish to do as a student? I am interested in psychopathology and its interaction with physical health conditions, but I am just wondering if I should keep looking while I work, or if schools/mentors are willing to think outside the box on this and see the connections between such an RA position and more psychology based research. I mean, I think the skills I attain will be easily transferable.. I just want to know if others have done something similar?

PS, I also have had a volunteer position that I will still help with when I can that is more anxiety/trauma based.
 

CheetahGirl

Clinical Psychologist
10+ Year Member
Feb 15, 2007
1,350
726
formerly from Atlanta, GA
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Post Doc
Yes, you will be fine. Still make sure you get the experience of accumulating data and presenting any preliminary ideas - usually PIs start reporting preliminary data (n =30 to 100) before they reach their final total sample. Look out for unique ideas that you can submit too. Regardless of whether you want to go into health psychology, if you keep your psychologically-minded focus, you will be accruing experience in health psychology and can spin it so (especially if you get some first- or second-authored work out of it). It's ambitious but doable.

I worked for a surgeon as a clinical research coordinator for about 5 years and received my initial presenting experience from surgery research. I also found a unique occurrence that resulted in a first-authored presentation at a national conference (all paid for my dept). My sample size was 3 out of some 300 patients, but what I reported was significant enough to be recognized as valuable evidence (sadly, I reported on the loss of 3 lives, in which the deaths were secondary to the surgical incident being study).

Good luck!
 
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chman

chman

5+ Year Member
Jun 7, 2009
3,003
15
Status
Pre-Psychology
Yes, you will be fine. Still make sure you get the experience of accumulating data and presenting any preliminary ideas - usually PIs start reporting preliminary data (n =30 to 100) before they reach their final total sample. Look out for unique ideas that you can submit too. Regardless of whether you want to go into health psychology, if you keep your psychologically-minded focus, you will be accruing experience in health psychology and can spin it so (especially if you get some first- or second-authored work out of it). It's ambitious but doable.

I worked for a surgeon as a clinical research coordinator for about 5 years and received my initial presenting experience from surgery research. I also found a unique occurrence that resulted in a first-authored presentation at a national conference (all paid for my dept). My sample size was 3 out of some 300 patients, but what I reported was significant enough to be recognized as valuable evidence (sadly, I reported on the loss of 3 lives, in which the deaths were secondary to surgical incident being study)
Thanks, that is very reassuring and helpful!

Do you mind if I ask what kind of program you ended up getting in to (like, did you end up doing clinical health psych, or did you do something unrelated)? Also, if you wouldn't mind, how was your position seen during the interview process?

It seems like with the way the field is going it could help in some ways to be able to have some experience that is more biology based..

Thanks for the help!
 

CheetahGirl

Clinical Psychologist
10+ Year Member
Feb 15, 2007
1,350
726
formerly from Atlanta, GA
Status
Post Doc
Do you mind if I ask what kind of program you ended up getting in to (like, did you end up doing clinical health psych, or did you do something unrelated)? Also, if you wouldn't mind, how was your position seen during the interview process3?

I ended in up in a predominantly psychodynamic program, clinical psychology PhD who funds all their students with a percentage of tuition remission (we all had work-studies in addition to grants & we could be TAs/Adjunct faculty to fully-fund our education. I was lucky enough to be one of the higher funded ones). My program takes you where you want to go: so if you want neuropsych with an eventual post-doc at a California VAMC, then that's what you get. We are all trained in CBT, some go on to specialize in DBT and some more dynamic approaches like MBT, TFP.

I had a health psych emphasis during the Master's portion of my degree. But my advisor retired so I changed my focus and research advisor. My dissertation research and focus is on trauma, which is still related to health psychology so I would say it's still part of my foundation. However, after my work in surgery, I went on to 4-years of cancer research (I'm older than the average cub) and worked directly for clinical psychologists and oncologists as a project coordinator.

I interviewed at both PsyD and PhD programs in clinical psychology. During my interviews, I think my CV spoke for my research experience and I was likely viewed as working as a "professional researcher." I "owned" my position. I went to every research meeting, worked closely with the biostatistian to report the data sets, actively worked on grants and presentations/publications, in addition to patient care so I could confidently answer any question posed because of how deeply involved I was the research. But I remember talking more about my volunteer work at a rape crisis counselor. I also remember discussing my relationships with my PIs (my interviewers were probably assessing how I would be to supervise as a clinician-in-training). And what I did for self care (I remember embarrassing myself in front of some "stiff-necks" talking about how much I love yoga.).

Go for a fully-funded program, is all I suggest. But, keep doing what you're doing and maintain your focus. All the steps you take along the way that are unconventional are okay...just "own" them & make them part of your story...Your #A) need money...sold me on the fact that you landed the best thing possible.

I'd like to share that when I left my study coordinator job...I made twice what I will make as an intern. How bittersweet. But I wasn't satisfied working for the PIs, I wanted to be my own PI.
 
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chman

chman

5+ Year Member
Jun 7, 2009
3,003
15
Status
Pre-Psychology
Thanks for the detailed response!

I had a health psych emphasis during the Master's portion of my degree. But my advisor retired so I changed my focus and research advisor. My dissertation research and focus is on trauma, which is still related to health psychology so I would say it's still part of my foundation. However, after my work in surgery, I went on to 4-years of cancer research (I'm older than the average cub) and worked directly for clinical psychologists and oncologists as a project coordinator.
That is interesting that you ended up doing trauma work.. That is what my background is in and I am interested to see how it will fit in with my new position. I think that the PI really liked that I had experience with this because I will be recruiting quite a few people from the VA and I get the feeling that a lot of our participants have PTSD.

I interviewed at both PsyD and PhD programs in clinical psychology. During my interviews, I think my CV spoke for my research experience and I was likely viewed as working as a "professional researcher." I "owned" my position. I went to every research meeting, worked closely with the biostatistian to report the data sets, actively worked on grants and presentations/publications, in addition to patient care so I could confidently answer any question posed because of how deeply involved I was the research. But I remember talking more about my volunteer work at a rape crisis counselor. I also remember discussing my relationships with my PIs (my interviewers were probably assessing how I would be to supervise as a clinician-in-training). And what I did for self care (I remember embarrassing myself in front of some "stiff-necks" talking about how much I love yoga).
This makes sense. I have found opportunities are what you make of them and it is up to you to carve a niche that works. I think that with my clinical psych research experience I will be able to make some good connections between the two kinds of research, and that the bottom line is that clinical research is just that, and the skills should be fairly transferable for the most part.

Go for a fully-funded program, is all I suggest. But, keep doing what you're doing and maintain your focus. All the steps you take along the way that are unconventional are okay...just "own" them & make them part of your story...Your #A) need money...sold me on the fact that you landed the best thing possible.I'd like to share that when I left my study coordinator job...I made twice what I will make as an intern. How bittersweet. But I wasn't satisfied working for the PIs, I wanted to be my own PI.
While money isn't the most important thing, I was pleasantly surprised at the salary for such a position.. I feel very fortunate in that regard because I interviewed for/worked some psych RA positions (that I would have taken without a second thought) that offered a barely livable salary. Beyond that, if I hadn't landed a steady paid RA position my plan was to volunteer at multiple labs and work part time, so again, I feel very fortunate to be able to make a living and gain the experience I need, even if it isn't in my exact area of interest. Like you said, it may even be a difficult transition economically to grad school now, which I wasn't too worried about before haha.

Thanks for all your help! I really appreciate it!
 
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psypipe

7+ Year Member
Sep 8, 2010
99
15
Status
Psychology Student
I ended in up in a predominantly psychodynamic program, clinical psychology PhD who funds all their students with a percentage of tuition remission (we all had work-studies in addition to grants & we could be TAs/Adjunct faculty to fully-fund our education. I was lucky enough to be one of the higher funded ones). My program takes you where you want to go: so if you want neuropsych with an eventual post-doc at a California VAMC, then that's what you get. We are all trained in CBT, some go on to specialize in DBT and some more dynamic approaches like MBT, TFP.

I had a health psych emphasis during the Master's portion of my degree. But my advisor retired so I changed my focus and research advisor. My dissertation research and focus is on trauma, which is still related to health psychology so I would say it's still part of my foundation. However, after my work in surgery, I went on to 4-years of cancer research (I'm older than the average cub) and worked directly for clinical psychologists and oncologists as a project coordinator.

I interviewed at both PsyD and PhD programs in clinical psychology. During my interviews, I think my CV spoke for my research experience and I was likely viewed as working as a "professional researcher." I "owned" my position. I went to every research meeting, worked closely with the biostatistian to report the data sets, actively worked on grants and presentations/publications, in addition to patient care so I could confidently answer any question posed because of how deeply involved I was the research. But I remember talking more about my volunteer work at a rape crisis counselor. I also remember discussing my relationships with my PIs (my interviewers were probably assessing how I would be to supervise as a clinician-in-training). And what I did for self care (I remember embarrassing myself in front of some "stiff-necks" talking about how much I love yoga.).

Go for a fully-funded program, is all I suggest. But, keep doing what you're doing and maintain your focus. All the steps you take along the way that are unconventional are okay...just "own" them & make them part of your story...Your #A) need money...sold me on the fact that you landed the best thing possible.

I'd like to share that when I left my study coordinator job...I made twice what I will make as an intern. How bittersweet. But I wasn't satisfied working for the PIs, I wanted to be my own PI.
Hello,

Your program sounds really interesting. Could you tell me the name of the program you attended? You can message me if you want to keep it private.

Thanks