Preparing for graduate school--clinical work vs. research, with a twist!

Discussion in 'Psychology [Psy.D. / Ph.D.]' started by biogirl215, Dec 5, 2008.

  1. biogirl215

    2+ Year Member

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    I'm a current UG junior and a double major in social work and psychology. As of now, I'm pretty set on applying to grad schools next year, both to Clinical Psych PhD programs (my main research interest narrows the programs down pretty quickly) and to MSW programs. I want to do clinical work, ultimately, and work with a specific population in specific, rural area. However, I know that plans can change for a variety of reasons, and so I'm wondering if it would be best to prepare for both graduate school and the job market?

    I couldn't take most bachelor's level social services job for physical (can't walk) reasons. I wouldn't mind working as an RA but now that the competition can be brutal (though not as much as pograms, of course!). If I could get into a PhD program with decent funding, I'd be beyond thrilled, but I feel that an MSW would also have the ability to take me where I want to go in terms of career at this point and would be far shorter (12 months total), Really, I feel like I could ultimately fit in either type of program at this point.

    My question, then, is how to best prepare myself in the coming year and summer. I have a good amount of research experience, having worked in two psychology labs, a biomedical lab working with psychotropic medications, and will work in a couple of additional labs in the coming semester. I also just started a paid psychology research position at my university (5 hrs/week) and am currently doing my honors thesis as well.

    In addition, I have TA'ed both psych and non-psych courses, and I also have a two year, part-time, (megerly) paid job teaching/facilitating a seminar for undergraduate psych internship students (not sure if this would be something grad schools care about or not...?). Other paid experience includes an internship with DHHS last summer (did very well, according to my supervisor). I also started a very clinical, unpaid substance abuse-related internship this past semester, working alongside graduate students and am hoping to continue that both next semester and possibly into senior year. Additionally, I'll be doing an unpaid 450-hour practicum next year as part of my social work degree.

    I'm have trouble deciding how to most strategically spend my summer. On one hand, clinical psych programs value research above all else, and fortunately, I really do love research! However, MSW programs really value field experience (internships/jobs), not to mention it might help more if I don't go to grad school straight off the bat for some reason...?

    I have a tentative offer for an unpaid research position this summer (though I'm not counting any eggs) with a professor who does research in my area of interest (discussed the possibility of a publicatioon but then there's that egg thing again) as well as another possibility up in the air and the additional possibility of perhaps staying at my school and continuing on with my research here over the summer. I am also planning on reapplying to gov't internships for this coming summer, just as a possible option.

    I'll look into if any of the psychology professors at the university and college near my parent's home would let me work in their labs over the summer so that I could do that research and work in some clinical experience at the same time, but I'm not counting on that necessarily working out and none of the professors do research that really dovetails particularly well with my background/interests, though a couple do do interesting work, one in a secondary research interest of mine.

    Ultimately, would it be better to do research or an internship this summer, in your opinion?

    Thanks for reading this huge post and any advice would be much appreciated!
     
  2. WannaBeDrMe

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    Honestly, I don't know if I stuck with your entire post. I'm exhausted right now (taking a break from a 400 page txt I need to review before teaching a class) but here's what I think...

    Find a research opportunity.

    Your BSW will more than qualify you for the advanced standing MSW program. Didn't you have to do an internship in the BSW program? There's your clinical experience.

    Since you are only looking @ the advanced standing MSW's (I assume b/c you said 12 months), then I wouldn't worry with doing anything more to prepare. They only accept applicants with their BSW's and are not really looking for much more differentiating criteria based on my knowledge of a few schools.

    If you wanted to go to a top MSW program that was 2 years, I'd prob still recommend doing the research in your area of interest.

    Good luck.
     
  3. biogirl215

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    Thanks for the advice! So, you think a BSW practicum (the 450 hour one required for the degree), an additional one or two year clinical internship, and one summer (but macro) internship would be enough experience for Advanced Standing MSW programs?

    Will my dual backgrounds in psychology and social work hurt me when applying to clinical psych programs?
     
  4. psybee

    psybee Psychology Grad Student!
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    I have an undergraduate degree in "individualized study", and I did pretty darn well applying to PhD programs. it's all in what your story is and how well you tell it.
     

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