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Post-doctoral Residency Dilemma

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PsychedOut2291

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Hello! I am currently on internship and I have been experiencing some issues regarding my next steps. Apologies in advance for being overly vague.

I had applied for residency positions in several postdoctoral residency programs. Although I received a decent number of interviews at very good postdoctoral programs, I did not receive an offer from any of my top choices. At some of my highly ranked sites, I came close but lost out at the last minute, which really stings to be honest. I ended up receiving an offer from a lower-ranked site that I really wasn't serious about but nonetheless I accepted the position after being pushed by family members. I was also afraid that I would not have any other options moving forward.

I will admit that I am extremely unhappy about the outcome of the postdoctoral application process. Although I matched at a good site, it was literally the only program on my list that did not have the specific clinical experiences that I wanted. To be honest, I only applied to the site as a back-up. Needless to say, I am very much dreading next year.

I am considering backing out of the site and possibly pursuing employment elsewhere. However, I was informed that there could be serious and potentially permanent ramifications of retracting my acceptance.

I know that reneging on the APPIC internship match is more binding and can result in long-term consequences. Is the same true for postdoctoral fellowship programs? I have heard that people have left fellowship/residency training programs during the year for various reasons with no issues at all. I have considered doing this but I imagine it would look better to back out now so that they can fill the position. What might be the best approach moving forward?

I feel very disappointed in everything, as I did not expect the postdoctoral match process to turn out the way that it did. It feels like a very cruel twist of fate to end up at the site that I least expected and never wanted. I just don't understand how this happened. I thought all the interviews went really well. I don't know what I could have done wrong to not receive an offer from ANY of the 10+sites that I really liked.

I have tried to generate a positive outlook on the situation but the thought of having to be at this site for 1-year and not gain the experience that I really want is agonizing. I have been feeling rather despondent about the future as of now.
 

WisNeuro

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In the end, you have to do what's best for you, but, if you renege on this postdoc, I wouldn't plan on any career prospects with that location or colleagues of those people. Reneging late screws that program, sometimes pretty hard, depending on how the rotations are set up and the funding structure. Personally, I'm big on honoring commitments and not screwing people, so I'd complete the postdoc and look for other ways to supplement my training/didactics to fill in some of the other areas.
 
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PsychedOut2291

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In the end, you have to do what's best for you, but, if you renege on this postdoc, I wouldn't plan on any career prospects with that location or colleagues of those people. Reneging late screws that program, sometimes pretty hard, depending on how the rotations are set up and the funding structure. Personally, I'm big on honoring commitments and not screwing people, so I'd complete the postdoc and look for other ways to supplement my training/didactics to fill in some of the other areas.
Could this decision extend to other locations/sites far away?
 

PsychedOut2291

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Less likely, but possible. Depends on how small your training niche is and who knows who.
I understand that they might be upset about reneging but would people actually blacklist a candidate and malign this or her reputation in retalliation?
 

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I understand that they might be upset about reneging but would people actually blacklist a candidate and malign this or her reputation in retalliation?

They may definitely blacklist someone within a certain organization. I've seen that happen a couple times. And personally, I don't blame them. As for them going out of their way to make the renege known outside of their org, much less likely, but not unheard of.
 
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PsychedOut2291

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They may definitely blacklist someone within a certain organization. I've seen that happen a couple times. And personally, I don't blame them. As for them going out of their way to make the renege known outside of their org, much less likely, but not unheard of.
Are there reasons where backing out would be permissible?
 

PsychedOut2291

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They may definitely blacklist someone within a certain organization. I've seen that happen a couple times. And personally, I don't blame them. As for them going out of their way to make the renege known outside of their org, much less likely, but not unheard of.
Also, a lot of people told me that the postdoc process was easier than internship and it was likely that I would get a position at one of my top choices. Therefore, it was a bit soul crushing that it didn’t turn out that way. I honestly believe that it was a bit more competitive than internship.
 

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Are there reasons where backing out would be permissible?

There are definitely acceptable reasons to back out, like having to take time away to take care of a dying relative, or a personal illness that requires you to step away from work for an extended period of time.

Also, a lot of people told me that the postdoc process was easier than internship and it was likely that I would get a position at one of my top choices. Therefore, it was a bit soul crushing that it didn’t turn out that way. I honestly believe that it was a bit more competitive than internship.

For many areas, it can be an easier process, but not all. Though, this is why I always advise trainees not to apply or accept positions at placements that you are not prepared to actually go to.
 
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summerbabe

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I am considering backing out of the site and possibly pursuing employment elsewhere. However, I was informed that there could be serious and potentially permanent ramifications of retracting my acceptance.
You're almost certainly burning a bridge with that postdoc site and possibly people associated with that site should they go to other locations with respect to future employment. If you decide to do this, communicate it ASAP once you're certain.
Could this decision extend to other locations/sites far away?
As far as I know, there's no way for anybody else to find out, besides your current TD/staff and the postdoc TD/staff. What they do with this info can range anywhere from being 100% supportive to holding longstanding petty grudges (which I wouldn't put past some of the professionals in positions of power that I've met in our field).

If this is a site in a random location where you'd likely never settle down in and you likely won't run into these people in other professional contexts, the personal consequences are probably pretty minimal to non-existent.

But if you intend to make this location your future home and want to work for that system AND the current TD/people involved in the PD have prominent roles in hiring decisions, you're introducing potential variables when it comes to future employment prospects.
 
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PsychedOut2291

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You're almost certainly burning a bridge with that postdoc site and possibly people associated with that site should they go to other locations with respect to future employment. If you decide to do this, communicate it ASAP once you're certain.

As far as I know, there's no way for anybody else to find out, besides your current TD/staff and the postdoc TD/staff. What they do with this info can range anywhere from being 100% supportive to holding longstanding petty grudges (which I wouldn't put past some of the professionals in positions of power that I've met in our field).

If this is a site in a random location where you'd likely never settle down in and you likely won't run into these people in other professional contexts, the personal consequences are probably pretty minimal to non-existent.

But if you intend to make this location your future home and want to work for that system AND the current TD/people involved in the PD have prominent roles in hiring decisions, you're introducing potential variables when it comes to future employment prospects.
I’m not comfortable revealing the precise location but it’s in a big state within a big city. The TD and staff seem to be well established in the field as clinicians, teachers, and researchers.
 

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I also forgot to mention that I discussed this with my supervisor in a hypothetical way. I was informed that the training committee would not be able to write anymore rec letters as reneging would adversely impact their reputation. How likely would this decision impact other people involved?
 

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It sounds like reneging would not only burn a bridge with this site and potentially the professional network in this city, but would also negatively affect your relationship with your internship site. If it were me I would seriously consider whether the benefits of finding another site would outweigh all of that. Especially if you don't end up staying at your next position long-term you would likely benefit from letters of recommendation and networking support from your internship. Postdoc can feel like it's incredibly career defining, but at the end of the day it just needs to be a transitional job while you get licensed/publish/build your CV. If it feels possible to do that at this site even if it's not ideal, I would strongly consider sticking with your commitment.
 
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WisNeuro

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I also forgot to mention that I discussed this with my supervisor in a hypothetical way. I was informed that the training committee would not be able to write anymore rec letters as reneging would adversely impact their reputation. How likely would this decision impact other people involved?

This is definitely an issue. Reneging at this site definitely impacts the reputations of your letter writers. In the past when we've been burned by a trainee, and a letter writer/placement wrote a glowing review, we essentially considered that letter writer/placement as a red flag and that impacted how we viewed applicants who came from that placement or had that letter writer. So, this definitely has broader-reaching implications. Unless there was a very good reason, I would probably do something similar and ask to be removed from a reference list and not write any more letters either.
 
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summerbabe

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My 2 jobs following internship and postdoc are both in areas that I didn't do formal rotations in so this site can still potentially meet your personal and professional goals. I received pretty solid training at both sites and those experiences, plus having reliable letter writers, have helped me to secure both jobs.

Somebody from my cohort reneged on an APPIC postdoc and they were able to still get recs from their internship and ended up working for that site in a staff role so sites/letter writers have wide discretion but it sounds like your site is clear regarding what they will do should you renege. It might be wise to take a step back and reassess your perspectives, goals, etc to arrive at your ultimate conclusion since there will be both known and unknown costs, as well as known and unknown benefits.
 
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I also forgot to mention that I discussed this with my supervisor in a hypothetical way. I was informed that the training committee would not be able to write anymore rec letters as reneging would adversely impact their reputation. How likely would this decision impact other people involved?
I just worry that you may be giving into those dastardly emotion urges so it’s great that you’re coming here to talk it out. I know the disappointment can become all consuming but is there a chance that you’re catastrophizing? Why did you apply to this site to begin with? Do you really know it’s going to be that bad? Or are you just worrying over a worst case scenario situation? I am one of those people who can fall into this space when I’m stressed and disappointed so it may be worth really looking at it (if you haven’t already). Lastly, just an anecdote, I have a close, very competent friend who didn’t match at their preferred sites. Had to find something post-match day, and was dreading the place he ended up accepting (much less shiny, lesser known, not much of a reputation in the field, etc). In reality, he had a wonderful experience at this site and considered it one of his best training experiences throughout his career.

Do you think it’s worth giving it a shot and seeing how it goes? I know for me, my expectations are always much worse than the reality.
 
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Sanman

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If you feel so negatively towards the site, why did you rank them? What exactly is the fear of completing 1 year of employment/training? Do you think that there is something you will not be able to pursue a year later?
 
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niceman

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As others have already shared, the consequences of reneging on this postdoc can vary and be unknown until it actually happens, but it seems like there will be consequences at both the postdoc and your current internship sites. I heard that at some sites hold grudges for backing out due to having to take care of a spouse with cancer. This is a good time for you to think about what your career may look like if you seek employment instead (whether you can get the training you want, how getting an LOR may look like from your internship, etc.) Bear in mind that you may need these letters in the next few years, and whether reneging may change the way they look at you is unknown as you also need to explain to them when you ask for LORs again. There are people who completed an additional postdoc to get the training they want. There are also people who found employment that provided clinical experiences they didn't get from internship or postdoc. So there are definitely alternatives.

In general, postdoc is a buyer's market but there are actually more interns this year to begin with. Also, it is also not uncommon for sites with only one position and an internship program to recruit their own interns. Processing your disappointment and frustration will help you find a way and make a decision that works best for you instead of just wanting a way out because of your expectations before and after.
 
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PsychedOut2291

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If you feel so negatively towards the site, why did you rank them? What exactly is the fear of completing 1 year of employment/training? Do you think that there is something you will not be able to pursue a year later?
I did not intend to go to this site at all. As previously mentioned, the opportunities were very limited and the program was relatively new. To be honest, I completed the application process because it was very easy and straightforward. Additionally, the commitment for interviewing was not too bad!

I think I am worried that I really won’t have a good experience at this fellowship site. I don’t believe that I will learn anything new and it seems like it’s really just a job. I don’t mind being a workhorse but I’d rather be overworking myself in a stimulating environment.
 

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I did not intend to go to this site at all. As previously mentioned, the opportunities were very limited and the program was relatively new. To be honest, I completed the application process because it was very easy and straightforward. Additionally, the commitment for interviewing was not too bad!

I think I am worried that I really won’t have a good experience at this fellowship site. I don’t believe that I will learn anything new and it seems like it’s really just a job. I don’t mind being a workhorse but I’d rather be overworking myself in a stimulating environment.

What makes you think a different job would be any more stimulating? A job is more likely to be 'just a job' than a post-doc is likely to be 'just a job'. Are you licensed yet or do you need to this position in order to be licensed in any state you want to work in?
 
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ExecutiveDysfunction

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I did not intend to go to this site at all. As previously mentioned, the opportunities were very limited and the program was relatively new. To be honest, I completed the application process because it was very easy and straightforward. Additionally, the commitment for interviewing was not too bad!

I think I am worried that I really won’t have a good experience at this fellowship site. I don’t believe that I will learn anything new and it seems like it’s really just a job. I don’t mind being a workhorse but I’d rather be overworking myself in a stimulating environment.

I totally get not expecting to fall so far down your list and feeling pressure to grasp at your last straw. But unfortunately, you still accepted the position, so you’re on the hook, regardless of your thought process. Others have made good points. Will it definitely limit you? Nothing is definite. But people talk and there is always some risk.

It sucks though, I get it. Just give yourself time to genuinely think through this before making any rash decisions. If it can fulfill your goals in some way, I would make it work somehow. Lots of self care and support outside of work. One year is not terrible.
 
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PsychedOut2291

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If you feel so negatively towards the site, why did you rank them? What exactly is the fear of completing 1 year of employment/training? Do you think that there is something you will not be able to pursue a year later?
I did not intend to go to this site at all. As previously mentioned, the opportunities were very limited and the program was relatively new. To be honest, I completed the application process because it was very easy and straightforward. Additionally, the commitment for interviewing was not too bad!

I think I am worried that I really won’t have a good experience at this fellowship site. I don’t believe that I will learn anything new and it seems like it’s really just a job. I don’t mind being a workhorse but I’d rather be overworking myself in a stimulating environment.
 

WisNeuro

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Bottom line, in a blunt way, you should not have ranked/accepted a position that you never intended to go to. This was a big mistake. A self-imposed mistake. You can make someone else pay dearly for that mistake, and possibly malign your reputation, those of your program, and those of your letter writers, or you can honor your committment.
 
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summerbabe

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I don’t believe that I will learn anything new and it seems like it’s really just a job.
Even if you literally do not learn a single new thing clinically all year (which I find impossible to imagine), there is still a ton of growth possible in non-clinical domains such as how to navigate professional relationships, working on different interdisciplinary teams, self-confidence and belonging, managing workloads appropriately and saying no to things, work-life balance and more.
 
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PsychedOut2291

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Bottom line, in a blunt way, you should not have ranked/accepted a position that you never intended to go to. This was a big mistake. A self-imposed mistake. You can make someone else pay dearly for that mistake, and possibly malign your reputation, those of your program, and those of your letter writers, or you can honor your committment.
I agree! I guess I truly believed that I had a good chance of getting one of the sites that I wanted. I wasn’t prepared for the irony of the situation. Honoring the commitment would show professionalism.
 
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PsychedOut2291

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I totally get not expecting to fall so far down your list and feeling pressure to grasp at your last straw. But unfortunately, you still accepted the position, so you’re on the hook, regardless of your thought process. Others have made good points. Will it definitely limit you? Nothing is definite. But people talk and there is always some risk.

It sucks though, I get it. Just give yourself time to genuinely think through this before making any rash decisions. If it can fulfill your goals in some way, I would make it work somehow. Lots of self care and support outside of work. One year is not terrible.
Not getting an offer from any of my other higher ranked sites was really hurtful. It’s not like I had unrealistic expectations or ridiculously high standards. Some sites even had 2-3 positions in the track that I applied for, so I thought I had a really good chance. Additionally, I did not match at my top ranked internship site this year. I really thought things were going to be different this time around.

I really believe that the next year is going to go by painfully slow, which terrifies me!
 

PsychedOut2291

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What makes you think a different job would be any more stimulating? A job is more likely to be 'just a job' than a post-doc is likely to be 'just a job'. Are you licensed yet or do you need to this position in order to be licensed in any state you want to work in?
Well, if it’s a job that is in my area of interest, I imagine it would be more enjoyable than a fellowship that doesn’t offer anything new. I’m not licensed yet. The training program will provide hours for licensing. I definitely plan to get licensed in a state that requires postdoc training hours. So, in this respect, I would need this position for reaching that goal.
 

PsychedOut2291

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As others have already shared, the consequences of reneging on this postdoc can vary and be unknown until it actually happens, but it seems like there will be consequences at both the postdoc and your current internship sites. I heard that at some sites hold grudges for backing out due to having to take care of a spouse with cancer. This is a good time for you to think about what your career may look like if you seek employment instead (whether you can get the training you want, how getting an LOR may look like from your internship, etc.) Bear in mind that you may need these letters in the next few years, and whether reneging may change the way they look at you is unknown as you also need to explain to them when you ask for LORs again. There are people who completed an additional postdoc to get the training they want. There are also people who found employment that provided clinical experiences they didn't get from internship or postdoc. So there are definitely alternatives.

In general, postdoc is a buyer's market but there are actually more interns this year to begin with. Also, it is also not uncommon for sites with only one position and an internship program to recruit their own interns. Processing your disappointment and frustration will help you find a way and make a decision that works best for you instead of just wanting a way out because of your expectations before and after.
I haven’t heard of anyone completing a second postdoc. I could imagine doing that in order to enter a specialty area such as forensic or neuropsych. However, it wouldn’t make sense to do another fellowship to round out the training. Also, I don’t think well-known sites would be willing to consider someone who has already completed a postdoc?
 

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Well, if it’s a job that is in my area of interest, I imagine it would be more enjoyable than a fellowship that doesn’t offer anything new. I’m not licensed yet. The training program will provide hours for licensing. I definitely plan to get licensed in a state that requires postdoc training hours. So, in this respect, I would need this position for reaching that goal.

That changes the calculus. A formal post-doc would beat most non-licensed jobs out of maybe the VA or a state agency. Outside of that, there are limited non-licensed options that will hire you. So, you have a choice ahead of you. Honor your commitment, get your post-doc hours done, get licensed and move on while gaining a few connections or burn a lot of bridges (remember you need these internship folks for initial job references and to certify your hours when applying for any state license) for what may be a better experience or not. It is your choice. However, it would need to be a really amazing job offer for me to do all of that and I have yet to encounter such a job.

There may have been better options on your post-doc list, but that ship has sailed. Put aside that disappointment before making this decision.
 
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PsychedOut2291

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That changes the calculus. A formal post-doc would beat most non-licensed jobs out of maybe the VA or a state agency. Outside of that, there are limited non-licensed options that will hire you. So, you have a choice ahead of you. Honor your commitment, get your post-doc hours done, get licensed and move on while gaining a few connections or burn a lot of bridges (remember you need these internship folks for initial job references and to certify your hours when applying for any state license) for what may be a better experience or not. It is your choice. However, it would need to be a really amazing job offer for me to do all of that and I have yet to encounter such a job.

There may have been better options on your post-doc list, but that ship has sailed. Put aside that disappointment before making this decision.
I agree. It’s a very bitter pill to swallow though.
 

PsychedOut2291

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That changes the calculus. A formal post-doc would beat most non-licensed jobs out of maybe the VA or a state agency. Outside of that, there are limited non-licensed options that will hire you. So, you have a choice ahead of you. Honor your commitment, get your post-doc hours done, get licensed and move on while gaining a few connections or burn a lot of bridges (remember you need these internship folks for initial job references and to certify your hours when applying for any state license) for what may be a better experience or not. It is your choice. However, it would need to be a really amazing job offer for me to do all of that and I have yet to encounter such a job.

There may have been better options on your post-doc list, but that ship has sailed. Put aside that disappointment before making this decision.
I just find it hard to not feel so stuck in an awful situation!
 

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I haven’t heard of anyone completing a second postdoc. I could imagine doing that in order to enter a specialty area such as forensic or neuropsych. However, it wouldn’t make sense to do another fellowship to round out the training. Also, I don’t think well-known sites would be willing to consider someone who has already completed a postdoc?
Not necessarily. It is not common but the people I know who did a second postdoc did their postdocs or are working in well-known places (i.e., top 5 children's hospitals, brand name child AMCs) in or outside of the specialty areas you mentioned. If your specific clinical interest isn't even in one of those specialty areas, maybe it will not be as hard to get related experiences down the road after you get licensed? It is a lot easier to talk about how transferable the skills you gained from your postdoc are than to explain why you don't have an LOR from your internship when you apply for jobs in the future.

I went into my internship (almost at the bottom of my list) not expecting to learn anything new either. I ended up having an enjoyable year utilizing my existing skills while getting some really good experiences that helped move my career forward to specialty areas that I have long been interested in. I guess what everyone is trying to do is help you understand potential ramifications of reneging and look at your postdoc in a positive/neutral light with an open mind. Unfortunately very little info seems to support your current decision. It is ok to feel stuck, but very often an experience is how you make of it.
 
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Sanman

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I agree. It’s a very bitter pill to swallow though.

It may well be a bitter pill and one that you do not enjoy, but not much of a dilemma without a better offer in hand. While we are all tired and ready to move on at this stage, do not shoot yourself in the foot over one year. Something to consider that they won't tell you in school. Going to a post-doc with a great mentor in your area of interest also often means there is no job for you (your mentor took it). Going to a new post-doc that does not have a rotation in your area of interest may mean a possible job for you building a rotation/program in that area as a staff member. Something to consider.
 
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My current postdoc overlaps heavily with skills I already have. I have taken the extra mental space to rebuild my life outside of postdoc. There are days where it feels like it's "just a job," but I also have room to breathe and remember I'm more than just a clinician.
 
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I think it's also important to note that even if you aren't necessarily learning new skills on fellowship in the sense of new interventions/populations/assessments/etc., it doesn't mean you aren't learning anything. Particularly over my first few years of independent practice, even after a two-year fellowship, I learned a lot despite basically doing the exact same thing I'd done clinically on fellowship (and internship and grad school). There's something to be said for just being able to practice in a setting with structured supervision and support.
 
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PsychedOut2291

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Not necessarily. It is not common but the people I know who did a second postdoc did their postdocs or are working in well-known places (i.e., top 5 children's hospitals, brand name child AMCs) in or outside of the specialty areas you mentioned. If your specific clinical interest isn't even in one of those specialty areas, maybe it will not be as hard to get related experiences down the road after you get licensed? It is a lot easier to talk about how transferable the skills you gained from your postdoc are than to explain why you don't have an LOR from your internship when you apply for jobs in the future.

I went into my internship (almost at the bottom of my list) not expecting to learn anything new either. I ended up having an enjoyable year utilizing my existing skills while getting some really good experiences that helped move my career forward to specialty areas that I have long been interested in. I guess what everyone is trying to do is help you understand potential ramifications of reneging and look at your postdoc in a positive/neutral light with an open mind. Unfortunately very little info seems to support your current decision. It is ok to feel stuck, but very often an experience is how you make of it.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I matched at my lowest ranked site for internship and it was the only one that didn’t have the clinical or assessment experiences that I was hoping to acquire. I worked very hard to prove myself this year. I went above and beyond with everything. My supervisors provided glowing letters of recommendation and I even received invitations to interview at very highly ranked training sites including some that rejected me for internship. I even declined interview offers due to scheduling conflicts and the time commitment . I thought I would have been able to redeem myself but it was a shock that history repeated itself.

I was hoping to match at a bigger site like a large scale VAMC or AMC. However, I ended up at a small training site. I’m concerned that this postdoc might preclude me from obtaining positions at the more reputable facilities.

I do see the advantage of sticking it out for another year. I thought I wouldn’t enjoy internship and it turned out to be the most rewarding experience ever. I guess I’m worried that the limited training received at internship and postdoc will prevent me from reaching long-term career goals in some way.
 
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PsychedOut2291

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It may well be a bitter pill and one that you do not enjoy, but not much of a dilemma without a better offer in hand. While we are all tired and ready to move on at this stage, do not shoot yourself in the foot over one year. Something to consider that they won't tell you in school. Going to a post-doc with a great mentor in your area of interest also often means there is no job for you (your mentor took it). Going to a new post-doc that does not have a rotation in your area of interest may mean a possible job for you building a rotation/program in that area as a staff member. Something to consider.
Are you saying that being at a top ranked site during the postdoc year could result in competing for limited resources with current staff?
 

PsychedOut2291

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I think it's also important to note that even if you aren't necessarily learning new skills on fellowship in the sense of new interventions/populations/assessments/etc., it doesn't mean you aren't learning anything. Particularly over my first few years of independent practice, even after a two-year fellowship, I learned a lot despite basically doing the exact same thing I'd done clinically on fellowship (and internship and grad school). There's something to be said for just being able to practice in a setting with structured supervision and support.
I definitely could benefit from structure for sure! I need to remind myself that I’m still in training and the developmental trajectory for psychologists is continuous.
 

PsychedOut2291

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This is definitely an issue. Reneging at this site definitely impacts the reputations of your letter writers. In the past when we've been burned by a trainee, and a letter writer/placement wrote a glowing review, we essentially considered that letter writer/placement as a red flag and that impacted how we viewed applicants who came from that placement or had that letter writer. So, this definitely has broader-reaching implications. Unless there was a very good reason, I would probably do something similar and ask to be removed from a reference list and not write any more letters either.
What do you mean by burned…like have trainees reneged or behaved unprofessionally other ways?
 

bluecolourskies

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Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I matched at my lowest ranked site for internship and it was the only one that didn’t have the clinical or assessment experiences that I was hoping to acquire. I worked very hard to prove myself this year. I went above and beyond with everything. My supervisors provided glowing letters of recommendation and I even received invitations to interview at very highly ranked training sites including some that rejected me for internship. I even declined interview offers due to scheduling conflicts and the time commitment . I thought I would have been able to redeem myself but it was a shock that history repeated itself.

I was hoping to match at a bigger site like a large scale VAMC or AMC. However, I ended up at a small training site. I’m concerned that this postdoc might preclude me from obtaining positions at the more reputable facilities.

I do see the advantage of sticking it out for another year. I thought I wouldn’t enjoy internship and it turned out to be the most rewarding experience ever. I guess I’m worried that the limited training received at internship and postdoc will prevent me from reaching long-term career goals in some way.
Just want to say I relate to you so much. I also thought I had gotten a very solid assessment experience, also had glowing letters of recommendation. I interviewed for the post doc at my internship (and so did the other interns) and while I didn't get it, my supervisors reassured me that I did great on the interview and I think it just came down to who wanted to stay there in the very long term...regardless, I expected a lot more offers and interviews than I received, and only received two. And this is with me thinking I had gotten great training during internship, and me applying to sites where said training experiences would be used and valued...nonetheless I was pissed. It takes time to prep applications, some sites had obscenely long paper apps or required me to PAY MONEY to provide them with OFFICIAL transcripts, with me not even getting an interview in return. Thankfully, I ended up somewhere amazing last minutes, but I relate to feeling pissed and bewildered lol I really questioned what was wrong with me and why I ever decided on this path. I also have a specific field I want, rather than just being a "generalist."

Sorry I can't offer anything more concrete, but I was there and it sucked lol and frankly, I was burned out on applying and having to prove myself year after year. I don't know anyone else not in graduate school who has to apply for competitive placements each year for like 4 straight years.

I would say try to make the best out of the situation that you can, and focus on studying for the EPPP!
 
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WisNeuro

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What do you mean by burned…like have trainees reneged or behaved unprofessionally other ways?

The latter. But, I was a trainee when a postdoc match reneged at our VA site. That person was blacklisted from any position at that site. Reneged 2 weeks prior to star, no way to backfill.
 
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iheartbacon

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Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I matched at my lowest ranked site for internship and it was the only one that didn’t have the clinical or assessment experiences that I was hoping to acquire. I worked very hard to prove myself this year. I went above and beyond with everything. My supervisors provided glowing letters of recommendation and I even received invitations to interview at very highly ranked training sites including some that rejected me for internship. I even declined interview offers due to scheduling conflicts and the time commitment . I thought I would have been able to redeem myself but it was a shock that history repeated itself.

I was hoping to match at a bigger site like a large scale VAMC or AMC. However, I ended up at a small training site. I’m concerned that this postdoc might preclude me from obtaining positions at the more reputable facilities.

I do see the advantage of sticking it out for another year. I thought I wouldn’t enjoy internship and it turned out to be the most rewarding experience ever. I guess I’m worried that the limited training received at internship and postdoc will prevent me from reaching long-term career goals in some way.
You are the only one who knows you got your lowest ranked options for internship and postdoc. For all sites and jobs know, you got your #1s. If questioned, you could always find something the site offered that you thought would help you grow in some way - or how it was different than your other experiences. Perhaps a smaller site had more employees that were there for a long time and had strong relationships with each other, or perhaps being somewhere small would help you learn to be more resourceful, think out of the box, and work toward building relationships with outside agencies compared to being in a system that has everything figured out for you.

It is always disappointing not getting an opportunity you would have loved. It is okay to mourn that. But remember that this is also just one year and you can move into new directions and specializations after postdoc. Many have done it, the most important thing is to persevere and get that license so you can make your career what you want 😊
 
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Sanman

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Are you saying that being at a top ranked site during the postdoc year could result in competing for limited resources with current staff?

I am saying you may get some training in an area for a year at those places, but there will be no job for you when you are done. Going somewhere with no rotation in your area of interest may mean that this place will have a future job for you in the area you want to work in when you are done. Your previous experience may mean you are the expert/person to hire. I know post-docs that pitched jobs in related areas (lets say a health psych post-doc that wants to work with pain patients) and were hired as staff afterward to build the program.
 
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PsychedOut2291

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Just want to say I relate to you so much. I also thought I had gotten a very solid assessment experience, also had glowing letters of recommendation. I interviewed for the post doc at my internship (and so did the other interns) and while I didn't get it, my supervisors reassured me that I did great on the interview and I think it just came down to who wanted to stay there in the very long term...regardless, I expected a lot more offers and interviews than I received, and only received two. And this is with me thinking I had gotten great training during internship, and me applying to sites where said training experiences would be used and valued...nonetheless I was pissed. It takes time to prep applications, some sites had obscenely long paper apps or required me to PAY MONEY to provide them with OFFICIAL transcripts, with me not even getting an interview in return. Thankfully, I ended up somewhere amazing last minutes, but I relate to feeling pissed and bewildered lol I really questioned what was wrong with me and why I ever decided on this path. I also have a specific field I want, rather than just being a "generalist."

Sorry I can't offer anything more concrete, but I was there and it sucked lol and frankly, I was burned out on applying and having to prove myself year after year. I don't know anyone else not in graduate school who has to apply for competitive placements each year for like 4 straight years.

I would say try to make the best out of the situation that you can, and focus on studying for the EPPP!
Yeah I definitely plan to make the best out of the situation. It didn’t help when I received emails on the UND informing me that the position was filled but I was the top ranked alternate candidate. That part really stung.
 

quickpsych

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As others have said, is it burning bridges and possible connections in the field? I think maybe we've all had some unsavory training settings/experiences that wasn't what we wanted or expected. But even my worst placement (one of my practicums), I still managed to try to make the best of it, thank them for the experience, and move on gracefully. I'm glad I did because it can be a small world and some later opportunities knew these people well. And even though some rough patches when I was there between myself and some of the supervisors, they still had good things to say about me overall. And when interviewing at other places, their names came up and I could have been bitter or annoyed or smile and nod and say hey it was an interesting but valuable experience working with them.

I had a post doc I really wanted, I applied. I knew them well, I had been there before to train. They ended up canceling the position due to funding. It was pretty devastating. I found a job a few months later and then found out they didn't have anyone who could provide supervised hours at the doctoral level but only for my masters level).

It took me years to find an opportunity to get the post doc hours I needed, I eventually lucked out and was in my interest area, it took longer than expected and it wasn't always easy. But I did it and I appreciated it. And it opened doors once licensed. And you know who helped me find that second opportunity? A combination of the practicum that wasn't that great of an experience and the place that canceled the post doc. The canceled post doc place found the opportunity and let me know then put in a rec, the practicum experience that didn't go that great knew the post doc people and were asked about me, they vouched for me too.

For a postdoc if your state/jurisdiction requires one for licensure, or you plan to live in a place that requires one. I'd just get it done. Sounds like your primary issue is that the site isn't your top pick or preferred population. But look at it this way: it will fulfill a licensure requirement which will open many doors and you might learn something new!

Long story short, I'd do the postdoc you matched with, keep an open mind, and get the hours done.
 
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PsychedOut2291

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As others have said, is it burning bridges and possible connections in the field? I think maybe we've all had some unsavory training settings/experiences that wasn't what we wanted or expected. But even my worst placement (one of my practicums), I still managed to try to make the best of it, thank them for the experience, and move on gracefully. I'm glad I did because it can be a small world and some later opportunities knew these people well. And even though some rough patches when I was there between myself and some of the supervisors, they still had good things to say about me overall. And when interviewing at other places, their names came up and I could have been bitter or annoyed or smile and nod and say hey it was an interesting but valuable experience working with them.

I had a post doc I really wanted, I applied. I knew them well, I had been there before to train. They ended up canceling the position due to funding. It was pretty devastating. I found a job a few months later and then found out they didn't have anyone who could provide supervised hours at the doctoral level but only for my masters level).

It took me years to find an opportunity to get the post doc hours I needed, I eventually lucked out and was in my interest area, it took longer than expected and it wasn't always easy. But I did it and I appreciated it. And it opened doors once licensed. And you know who helped me find that second opportunity? A combination of the practicum that wasn't that great of an experience and the place that canceled the post doc. The canceled post doc place found the opportunity and let me know then put in a rec, the practicum experience that didn't go that great knew the post doc people and were asked about me, they vouched for me too.

For a postdoc if your state/jurisdiction requires one for licensure, or you plan to live in a place that requires one. I'd just get it done. Sounds like your primary issue is that the site isn't your top pick or preferred population. But look at it this way: it will fulfill a licensure requirement which will open many doors and you might learn something new!

Long story short, I'd do the postdoc you matched with, keep an open mind, and get the hours done.
I’m moved by your professional journey and respect your perseverance. You’re absolutely right that I ended up in a postdoc that is in a setting that I don’t like. It’s 100% outpatient and my true passion is inpatient/residential. Unfortunately, I matched at an internship site that did not have those experiences. I desperately wanted to go to a postdoc that had residential and inpatient opportunities. Every site had those experiences except the one I matched at. As I indicated before, my family sort of pushed me into it and I really need to be more assertive and not take unsolicited career advice from them.

I’m concerned that I will be trapped in outpatient forever given that that has been the bulk of my experience. Outpatient is incredibly agonizing. I dislike the ebb and flow. 90% of the time, I have been sitting in my office doing next to nothing. The thought of having to deal with this for another year really makes me despondent about the future.

I’m just afraid that I will never get the opportunities that I have been dreaming of and jobs in settings which will help me thrive.
 

PsychedOut2291

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The latter. But, I was a trainee when a postdoc match reneged at our VA site. That person was blacklisted from any position at that site. Reneged 2 weeks prior to star, no way to backfill.
Does it look better if a resident leaves the postdoc halfway through vs. reneging?
 

PsychedOut2291

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My current postdoc overlaps heavily with skills I already have. I have taken the extra mental space to rebuild my life outside of postdoc. There are days where it feels like it's "just a job," but I also have room to breathe and remember I'm more than just a clinician.
The future looks very bleak. Ever since that match day, I have been incredibly bitter and sulky. I just feel like I am trapped and there’s nothing to look forward to. I have basically cut ties with my family for putting me in this situation in the first place. I just believe that I will never get the opportunities that I desperately want.
 
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