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Quitting PsyD Neuropsychology Program. Advice?

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stressedbrain

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I am a 3rd year PsyD student (5 year program). I've been so unhappy with my program and consistently question my career choices. Before starting my program, I was set on wanting to get into a PsyD program and specializing in neuropsychology. I recently started my external practicum year and I hate it. I can't tell if the reason why I'm so unhappy is due to stress or due to a lack of passion in the field. I keep thinking about dropping the program but after 2 full years, I can't help but beat myself over the fact that I have wasted so much time and money. I am stuck between continuing to get my PsyD given all the tuition loans and years of my life that I have already invested in this, or drop the program completely to figure out if there's anything else I might be passionate about. I am 25 years old and I feel like such a failure for feeling this way. I got an MA degree on the way to my PsyD, so that's pretty much the only thing I gained. I am performing really well in my clinical sites and in my classes, but I still don't feel happy on this journey to become a neuropsychologist.

I am not sure what I would do if I dropped the program. I have a B.S. in Neuroscience and a M.A. in Clinical Psychology. I would either have to look into what kind of jobs I can get with those degrees, or spend a couple more years transitioning out of being a doctoral student to a complete career change. I feel so stuck. Any advice out there?

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First of all, I'm sorry you're in this situation. It sounds rough. What is it about the program/external practicum you dislike? What tasks/features/components?
Yes, I agree that it's a tough situation and I had similar questions about it. OP, what specifically is making you unhappy? Is it clinical work in general or something particular to this prac site even though you're performing well at it? Or is it going into neuropsych that makes you unhappy?

It sounds like this is your first external practicum, but that you had an internal practicum last year. Is this correct? If so, did you hate your practicum last year or has it just been at this new site?
 
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I can't tell if the reason why I'm so unhappy is due to stress or due to a lack of passion in the field.
So sorry that things are really rough. Stress management is no joke and being negatively impacted by clinical depression or other conditions can happen to all of us and both will significantly cloud our experiences if we aren't taking care of ourselves in these areas.

Since you're 25, it sounds like you went pretty much from undergrad directly into your PsyD. Personally, I felt like I really benefitted from having 5 years of work/life experience after undergrad before starting my MS and then applying to PhDs. Do you feel like you rushed too quickly into this field and/or foreclosed other options?
I am performing really well in my clinical sites and in my classes, but I still don't feel happy on this journey to become a neuropsychologist.
There are probably lots of things that I can perform well at but would actively hate doing. Have you enjoyed any of your clinical work so far? Have you only seen therapy patients or also began assessments? If so, how do those experiences contrast?

If you've disliked clinical work (and may continue to dislike it in other contexts), it's probably gonna to be a rough road moving forward and you might want to consider withdrawing despite the sunk cost of time and loans. But if it's other factors that are causing the primary concerns, there are probably significantly more avenues for problem solving.
 
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Chiming in to say that A LOT has happened in the last year and a half plus. “A lot” is an understatement. Many folks in various aspects of their training have had similar feelings as you, myself included, OP. With so much going on I felt that plugging along and finishing graduate school felt less meaningful in context. I lost the drive and excitement I had for clinical work (my chosen path vs teaching or research). Everyday felt like a chore, and I felt like I had to work hard to put on a happy face front with my clients. Training still feels like a drag because of the extra hoops, but I feel MUCH better now that I’m almost done and on internship. If you’ve noticed this change in the last 18 months, I’d think about, and maybe talk to someone about, how the pandemic and other sociopolitical events may be impacting you without you fully realizing it. Best of luck in whatever you decide to do.
 
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While ultimately the choice is yours, you are at the halfway point and it may be possible to salvage things if you find a path that renews your interest. Neuro is a tough specialty, but it isn't the only one. Have you talked to your mentor and/or DCT about changing practicum sites or switching specialties completely?
 
So sorry that things are really rough. Stress management is no joke and being negatively impacted by clinical depression or other conditions can happen to all of us and both will signficantly cloud our experiences if we aren't taking care of ourselves in these areas.
Since you're 25, it sounds like you went pretty much from undergrad directly into your PsyD. Personally, I felt like I really benefitted from having 5 years of work/life experience after undergrad before starting my MS and then applying to PhDs. Do you feel like you rushed too quickly into this field and/or foreclosed other options?
There are probably lots of things that I can perform well at but would actively hate doing. Have you enjoyed any of your clinical work so far? Have you only seen therapy patients or also began assessments? If so, how do those experiences contrast? Also, toy can get payday loan nline at MoneyZap - Get Access To Fast Cash Up To $10,000 Online (24/7) service. If you've disliked clinical work (and may continue to dislike it in other contexts), it's probably gonna to be a rough road moving forward and you might want to consider withdrawing despite the sunk cost of time and loans. But if it's other factors that are causing the primary concerns, there are probably significantly more avenues for problem solving.

if you withdrawal the amount of loan is decreased or you stuck with it no matter what?
 
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I am a 3rd year PsyD student (5 year program). I've been so unhappy with my program and consistently question my career choices. Before starting my program, I was set on wanting to get into a PsyD program and specializing in neuropsychology. I recently started my external practicum year and I hate it. I can't tell if the reason why I'm so unhappy is due to stress or due to a lack of passion in the field. I keep thinking about dropping the program but after 2 full years, I can't help but beat myself over the fact that I have wasted so much time and money. I am stuck between continuing to get my PsyD given all the tuition loans and years of my life that I have already invested in this, or drop the program completely to figure out if there's anything else I might be passionate about. I am 25 years old and I feel like such a failure for feeling this way. I got an MA degree on the way to my PsyD, so that's pretty much the only thing I gained. I am performing really well in my clinical sites and in my classes, but I still don't feel happy on this journey to become a neuropsychologist. Any advice out there?
You are not alone. Graduate school is a marathon and no easy task. I remembered the feelings of wanting to quit during my 1st, 2nd year, and 3rd year. There were so much pain, suffering, and misery. The 4th year did not get easier, I just learned to tune out some of the stressors. Not until being licensed, everything was about survival. We survive political and organizational changes of the training program, survive supervisors who abused their positional power, survive the exhausting match process, survive the meanness and competitiveness that were not expected to witness and experience....

Every year, I carried an old fashion physical calendar and crossed out a day at the end of day. When I made it to the end of month, I would cross out the month. It helped to get through tough days, which were everyday, and survived one semester after another. During that time, the struggles seemed dark and forever non-ending. I treated myself a nice dinner at a reasonably priced restaurant at the end of each semester to reward myself for surviving.

After all, years of humble struggle has made me more empathetic, understanding, and forgiving. I am also very grateful for encountering individuals who I would have not otherwise met. They are peers, supervisors, and mentors who have good intention to teach, share, and lift others up.

I agree with everything everyone said, and this is your decision. Sometimes, good things in life come with high prices. Maybe it is hard to think about right now. The question is not only what kind of future do you want to live, but also what kind of clinician do you want to be if you are still interested in a helping profession, who are the people you desire to work with, what kind of population will be benefited from you...
 
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You are not alone. Graduate school is a marathon and no easy task. I remembered the feelings of wanting to quit during my 1st, 2nd year, and 3rd year. There were so much pain, suffering, and misery. The 4th year did not get easier, I just learned to tune out some of the stressors. Not until being licensed, everything was about survival. We survive political and organizational changes of the training program, survive supervisors who abused their positional power, survive the exhausting match process, survive the meanness and competitiveness that were not expected to witness and experience in this helping profession....

Every year, I carried an old fashion physical calendar and crossed out a day at the end of day. When I made it to the end of month, I would cross out the month. It helped to get through tough days, which were everyday, and survived one semester after another. During that time, the struggles seemed dark and forever non-ending. I treated myself a nice dinner at a reasonably priced restaurant at the end of each semester to reward myself for surviving.

After all, years of humble struggle has made me more empathetic, understanding, and forgiving. I am also very grateful for encountering individuals who I would have not otherwise met. They are peers, supervisors, and mentors who have good intention to teach, share, and lift others up.

I agree with everything everyone said, and this is your decision. Sometimes, good things in life come with high prices. Maybe it is hard to think about right now. The question is not only what kind of future do you want to live, but also what kind of clinician do you want to be if you are still interested in a helping profession, who are the people you desire to work with, what kind of population will be benefited from you...

This is NOT how graduate school should be...and dare I say not how it is for most of us. Program dependent, mostly, I would guess?

I did not like gradate school either...but that was mostly due to wanting to catch up and have a family and be a full adult with a house and a normal schedule. I also didn't do well with late hours and essentially having 3 jobs at the same time (TA, RA, and clinical work). Only later did I fall out of love with some of the common activities. Although, I did question some things along the way.

If you REALLY do hate what you are doing (I imagine its alot of tests and therapy?), I see little reason to continue. Testing probably doesn't get more
"interesting" or fun later on even though your freedom and schedule and flexibility significantly might?
 
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Agree with what has already been written, especially the point about considering your alternatives very carefully and making sure you have <some> sort of alternative in mind before leaving. Even if it isn't definitive. I'm always of the mind that - barring an outright dangerous or abusive environment - you always want to be moving toward something rather than away from something.

Without crossing too far over the line into clinical advice here, I do think folks above are correct its important to acknowledge its been a ****ty couple years. Don't discount the impact that may be having on your feelings about things. Not being happy about your current circumstances is pretty normal right now. Your educational experience is almost certainly very different from what it would have been two years ago. Be careful not to ascribe blame to the field that may be secondary to these things. You may have already done so, but I'd reflect carefully on that before making any big moves.

Normal to question. I certainly had some dark periods in graduate school where I thought it was all BS and wanted to quit. They came and went, sometimes lasting an hour and I think at longest lasting a couple months. I'm not an outlier, but I'm certainly not low on trait neuroticism. Know yourself and factor that in. I chose to plow through and am super-happy I did as I now have an incredible and flexible job that comes with compensation I consider downright insane for someone coming from my background.

As others have said, also consider pivots within psychology. Other clinical work/populations. Perhaps a bit tougher coming from a PsyD program than a PhD program, but maybe you really like research or administration or program evaluation or dissemination/implementation or public advocacy or <insert other thing psychologists do>.
 
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Chiming in to say that A LOT has happened in the last year and a half plus. “A lot” is an understatement. Many folks in various aspects of their training have had similar feelings as you, myself included, OP. With so much going on I felt that plugging along and finishing graduate school felt less meaningful in context. I lost the drive and excitement I had for clinical work (my chosen path vs teaching or research). Everyday felt like a chore, and I felt like I had to work hard to put on a happy face front with my clients. Training still feels like a drag because of the extra hoops, but I feel MUCH better now that I’m almost done and on internship. If you’ve noticed this change in the last 18 months, I’d think about, and maybe talk to someone about, how the pandemic and other sociopolitical events may be impacting you without you fully realizing it. Best of luck in whatever you decide to do.
This....all day.

I cannot imagine going thru clinical training during a Global Pandemic - all of you out there...give yourselves some credit for hanging in there and adjusting in the ways you have. Don't forget to validate for yourself that we've each been through a lot (@stressedbrain you're only a third year and the Pandemic was half of your training already!), and I also wonder to what extent external factors have impacted in your internal factors? No matter what, best of luck! 🍀
 
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This....all day.

I cannot imagine going thru clinical training during a Global Pandemic - all of you out there...give yourselves some credit for hanging in there and adjusting in the ways you have. Don't forget to validate for yourself that we've each been through a lot (@stressedbrain you're only a third year and the Pandemic was half of your training already!), and I also wonder to what extent external factors have impacted in your internal factors? No matter what, best of luck! 🍀
Dude. I didn't stop to think about proportionally what a ton of one's training that is. And as a 3rd year - certainly the majority of clinical opportunity has been pandemic affected. I generally love my job but pandemic has even me dreading the drive to work most days. Patients, families, staff, myself - everyone is feeling maxed out and burnt out by this point, which makes everything harder and everyone a wee bit crabbier (and with less opportunity for the spontaneous shoot-the-**** conversations and laughs that help with team cohesion); due to COVID trickle-down effects everything a little (or lot) less fun and there is too much of it, even the things that personally I know that I do actually enjoy - when it's not in the context of the pandemic and when it's not too much of it (because too much of a good thing is still too much). That might not be related to how you are feeling, OP, but regardless of my gripe-fest above, it is a worthy consideration - have you had experience with clinical work in normal times?
 
Dude. I didn't stop to think about proportionally what a ton of one's training that is. And as a 3rd year - certainly the majority of clinical opportunity has been pandemic affected. I generally love my job but pandemic has even me dreading the drive to work most days. Patients, families, staff, myself - everyone is feeling maxed out and burnt out by this point, which makes everything harder and everyone a wee bit crabbier (and with less opportunity for the spontaneous shoot-the-**** conversations and laughs that help with team cohesion); due to COVID trickle-down effects everything a little (or lot) less fun and there is too much of it, even the things that personally I know that I do actually enjoy - when it's not in the context of the pandemic and when it's not too much of it (because too much of a good thing is still too much). That might not be related to how you are feeling, OP, but regardless of my gripe-fest above, it is a worthy consideration - have you had experience with clinical work in normal times?
People were less on edge prior to the pandemic, per my recollection.
 
So sorry that things are really rough. Stress management is no joke and being negatively impacted by clinical depression or other conditions can happen to all of us and both will significantly cloud our experiences if we aren't taking care of ourselves in these areas.

Since you're 25, it sounds like you went pretty much from undergrad directly into your PsyD. Personally, I felt like I really benefitted from having 5 years of work/life experience after undergrad before starting my MS and then applying to PhDs. Do you feel like you rushed too quickly into this field and/or foreclosed other options?

There are probably lots of things that I can perform well at but would actively hate doing. Have you enjoyed any of your clinical work so far? Have you only seen therapy patients or also began assessments? If so, how do those experiences contrast?

If you've disliked clinical work (and may continue to dislike it in other contexts), it's probably gonna to be a rough road moving forward and you might want to consider withdrawing despite the sunk cost of time and loans. But if it's other factors that are causing the primary concerns, there are probably significantly more avenues for problem solving.
Thank you for your response. I graduated at 22 with my B.S. and took a year in which I worked full-time while applying and interviewing for graduate school. I do think about it all the time and definitely think that I may have rushed into this decision, thus closing all other possibilities as a consequence. I was afraid of what my next step would be and figuring it all out without taking too much time "off". All I knew for certain was that I wanted to go into healthcare and work within the context of mental health/brain health.

The main part of my clinical work that I enjoy doing is working with people and feeling that I am meaningfully contributing to their lives or to this world in a good way. Now that I am deep into the field, I don't feel like I am doing anything of value. As a neuropsychologist trainee, hours and days are spent scoring, interpreting, and writing up reports. I see an average of 2-3 patients a week.

Despite what I'm good at or what I once thought I wanted after undergrad, I don't know how to figure out what's going to make me happy.
 
First of all, I'm sorry you're in this situation. It sounds rough. What is it about the program/external practicum you dislike? What tasks/features/components?

The workload of the clinical work is insane. I am scheduled for 3 full days (12+ hours/day). My concentration is in neuropsychology, so I have taken a lot of neuropsychology specific courses so far. However, I had no idea that the hours and requirements were this strict. I feel like I have no work-life balance. I stress out that I am already feeling this overwhelmed and burnt out as a neuropsychology trainee, how am I going to make it as a neuropsychologist? I can't imagine working over 60 hours/week in the future with no work-life balance whatsoever.

On top of all this, everyone talks about how competitive getting into a neuropsych internship is and the possibility of staying an extra year for experience. The thought of that makes me want to cry, I can't stay longer than 5 years and it's disheartening that we are required to put in so many hours as doctoral trainees and still be told it's not enough when we apply for internship.
 
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Dude. I didn't stop to think about proportionally what a ton of one's training that is. And as a 3rd year - certainly the majority of clinical opportunity has been pandemic affected. I generally love my job but pandemic has even me dreading the drive to work most days. Patients, families, staff, myself - everyone is feeling maxed out and burnt out by this point, which makes everything harder and everyone a wee bit crabbier (and with less opportunity for the spontaneous shoot-the-**** conversations and laughs that help with team cohesion); due to COVID trickle-down effects everything a little (or lot) less fun and there is too much of it, even the things that personally I know that I do actually enjoy - when it's not in the context of the pandemic and when it's not too much of it (because too much of a good thing is still too much). That might not be related to how you are feeling, OP, but regardless of my gripe-fest above, it is a worthy consideration - have you had experience with clinical work in normal times?
Thank you for your response. I agree, I certainly think many things will continue to be different from pre-pandemic moving forward. I spend about 3 hours driving back and forth to a site on a given day and I absolutely hate that my time is wasted being stuck in traffic (which dramatically went up after the pandemic). But how do I figure out whether my unhappiness is externally related to something such as the pandemic or internally related to my own passions?
 
People were less on edge prior to the pandemic, per my recollection.
Unfortunately, I would not know. My entire first clinical training year was during the pandemic and now this second clinical training year is during a time after the pandemic.
 
This....all day.

I cannot imagine going thru clinical training during a Global Pandemic - all of you out there...give yourselves some credit for hanging in there and adjusting in the ways you have. Don't forget to validate for yourself that we've each been through a lot (@stressedbrain you're only a third year and the Pandemic was half of your training already!), and I also wonder to what extent external factors have impacted in your internal factors? No matter what, best of luck! 🍀
I don't feel like I deserve any credit because I genuinely don't feel like I'm good enough. Many things changed for me on a personal and professional level. A lot of my friends and people my age started major careers, got married, had kids, bought their first homes, pursued social media as a career, etc. I entered a toxic cycle of comparing myself to those around me. I constantly feel like I'm a loser compared to them because I am still in this program that's stressing me out and working 35+ hours/week without getting paid. So I am a broke 25-year old.
 
Agree with what has already been written, especially the point about considering your alternatives very carefully and making sure you have <some> sort of alternative in mind before leaving. Even if it isn't definitive. I'm always of the mind that - barring an outright dangerous or abusive environment - you always want to be moving toward something rather than away from something.

Without crossing too far over the line into clinical advice here, I do think folks above are correct its important to acknowledge its been a ****ty couple years. Don't discount the impact that may be having on your feelings about things. Not being happy about your current circumstances is pretty normal right now. Your educational experience is almost certainly very different from what it would have been two years ago. Be careful not to ascribe blame to the field that may be secondary to these things. You may have already done so, but I'd reflect carefully on that before making any big moves.

Normal to question. I certainly had some dark periods in graduate school where I thought it was all BS and wanted to quit. They came and went, sometimes lasting an hour and I think at longest lasting a couple months. I'm not an outlier, but I'm certainly not low on trait neuroticism. Know yourself and factor that in. I chose to plow through and am super-happy I did as I now have an incredible and flexible job that comes with compensation I consider downright insane for someone coming from my background.

As others have said, also consider pivots within psychology. Other clinical work/populations. Perhaps a bit tougher coming from a PsyD program than a PhD program, but maybe you really like research or administration or program evaluation or dissemination/implementation or public advocacy or <insert other thing psychologists do>.
Thank you for your response and perspective. Since you've had similar experiences during your graduate training, what helped you continue moving forward rather than quitting? Is there light at the end of the tunnel for post-grads in this field in terms of financial stability and work-life balance?
 
The workload of the clinical work is insane. I am scheduled for 3 full days (12+ hours/day). My concentration is in neuropsychology, so I have taken a lot of neuropsychology specific courses so far. However, I had no idea that the hours and requirements were this strict. I feel like I have no work-life balance. I stress out that I am already feeling this overwhelmed and burnt out as a neuropsychology trainee, how am I going to make it as a neuropsychologist? I can't imagine working over 60 hours/week in the future with no work-life balance whatsoever.

On top of all this, everyone talks about how competitive getting into a neuropsych internship is and the possibility of staying an extra year for experience. The thought of that makes me want to cry, I can't stay longer than 5 years and it's disheartening that we are required to put in so many hours as doctoral trainees and still be told it's not enough when we apply for internship.
Thank you for your response. I agree, I certainly think many things will continue to be different from pre-pandemic moving forward. I spend about 3 hours driving back and forth to a site on a given day and I absolutely hate that my time is wasted being stuck in traffic (which dramatically went up after the pandemic). But how do I figure out whether my unhappiness is externally related to something such as the pandemic or internally related to my own passions?
Wait, you're doing 12+ hours of clinical work per day and commuting for 3 hours? And you're doing this 3 days a week? That's 36+ hours per week just on clinical work and 9 hours commuting?

I think we've found the culprit.....
 
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This is NOT how graduate school should be...and dare I say not how it is for most of us. Program dependent, mostly, I would guess?

I did not like gradate school either...but that was mostly due to wanting to catch up and have a family and be a full adult with a house and a normal schedule. I also didn't do well with late hours and essentially having 3 jobs at the same time (TA, RA, and clinical work). Only later did I fall out of love with some of the common activities. Although, I did question some things along the way.

If you REALLY do hate what you are doing (I imagine its alot of tests and therapy?), I see little reason to continue. Testing probably doesn't get more
"interesting" or fun later on even though your freedom and schedule and flexibility significantly might?
Likely program/clinical site dependent. I am in the same boat, as I wear a few different hats (TA, research, coursework, clinical work, etc) and it's getting harder to manage everything. On top of all that, I've been wanting things that I didn't think I wanted so soon before starting the program. Things like getting married, starting a family, making income, etc. As a 25-year old in this generation, I feel so behind on all these adult things. I feel like I can't do any of these things because I am stuck in graduate school.

Is there freedom and flexibility after training?
 
Depends on the terms and conditions of your particular loan.
I am already 90K deep in loans. I am estimated to graduate with ~200k in loans. Unfortunately, my program/school functions on a block tuition. So I am forced to take out loans and pay tuition even when I am not taking classes or done with certain course requirements. So money is a HUGE factor here.
 
if you withdrawal the amount of loan is decreased or you stuck with it no matter what?
I am stuck with my current loan no matter what (90K for the past 2 years). But if I continue, I graduate with an estimated 200K in loans to finish the rest of the program.
 
You are not alone. Graduate school is a marathon and no easy task. I remembered the feelings of wanting to quit during my 1st, 2nd year, and 3rd year. There were so much pain, suffering, and misery. The 4th year did not get easier, I just learned to tune out some of the stressors. Not until being licensed, everything was about survival. We survive political and organizational changes of the training program, survive supervisors who abused their positional power, survive the exhausting match process, survive the meanness and competitiveness that were not expected to witness and experience....

Every year, I carried an old fashion physical calendar and crossed out a day at the end of day. When I made it to the end of month, I would cross out the month. It helped to get through tough days, which were everyday, and survived one semester after another. During that time, the struggles seemed dark and forever non-ending. I treated myself a nice dinner at a reasonably priced restaurant at the end of each semester to reward myself for surviving.

After all, years of humble struggle has made me more empathetic, understanding, and forgiving. I am also very grateful for encountering individuals who I would have not otherwise met. They are peers, supervisors, and mentors who have good intention to teach, share, and lift others up.

I agree with everything everyone said, and this is your decision. Sometimes, good things in life come with high prices. Maybe it is hard to think about right now. The question is not only what kind of future do you want to live, but also what kind of clinician do you want to be if you are still interested in a helping profession, who are the people you desire to work with, what kind of population will be benefited from you...
Thank you so much for your response. I can relate to your experiences as I am literally in the middle of feeling all these things right now. It scares me to hear that the stress and wanting to quit may still be there for the rest of my 3rd and 4th years until I get to internship. What kept you going? Are you happy with your decision of not quiting? Are you happy with your career? Do you have passion for what you're doing for a living? I mainly care about having financial stability and a work-life balance to be able to have a family, travel, and do all the good things in life. What's your advice?
 
Wait, you're doing 12+ hours of clinical work per day and commuting for 3 hours? And you're doing this 3 days a week? That's 36+ hours per week just on clinical work and 9 hours commuting?

I think we've found the culprit.....
Yes, I am scheduled for 3 full days just for neuropsych during my external practicum year. I start at 7:30am - ~8:00pm. It takes me anywhere between 1.5-2hrs to get to my site in the morning due to the terrible traffic in SoCal and 1hr to get back home in the evening. There's no flexibility in the schedule or hours. I barely get a lunch break or a few mins to eat for 2/3 days that I go in.
 
Yes, I am scheduled for 3 full days just for neuropsych during my external practicum year. I start at 7:30am - ~8:00pm. It takes me anywhere between 1.5-2hrs to get to my site in the morning due to the terrible traffic in SoCal and 1hr to get back home in the evening. There's no flexibility in the schedule or hours. I barely get a lunch break or a few mins to eat for 2/3 days that I go in.
Sounds like you're getting burnt out because they're treating you like a workhorse. By any chance, is this a private practice or private clinic of some kind?

I can't imagine my program allowing me to do anything near this much for practicum. My mentor would have put the kibosh on that as soon as they mopped up all the coffee they spit out upon hearing about it.
 
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The main part of my clinical work that I enjoy doing is working with people and feeling that I am meaningfully contributing to their lives or to this world in a good way. Now that I am deep into the field, I don't feel like I am doing anything of value. As a neuropsychologist trainee, hours and days are spent scoring, interpreting, and writing up reports. I see an average of 2-3 patients a week.
I've heard similar sentiments from peers who felt like neuropsych training (even if it's intellectually interesting and they were good at it) was getting them further and further away from career satisfaction, which sometimes led to moving away from neuropsych.
Despite what I'm good at or what I once thought I wanted after undergrad, I don't know how to figure out what's going to make me happy.
The good news is that there's a lot of different ways to work with people and contribute meaningfully to their lives. The bad news is that you're knee deep financially already - whether you get out, continue with neuropsych, or continue in a non-neuropsych direction.

Have you ever done any career assessment? The ONET Interest Profiler is super quick and not very detailed but could be interesting to review. The Minnesota Importance Questionnaire is much more detailed and specifically focused on work values, rather than specific tasks.
The workload of the clinical work is insane. I am scheduled for 3 full days (12+ hours/day). My concentration is in neuropsychology, so I have taken a lot of neuropsychology specific courses so far. However, I had no idea that the hours and requirements were this strict. I feel like I have no work-life balance. I stress out that I am already feeling this overwhelmed and burnt out as a neuropsychology trainee, how am I going to make it as a neuropsychologist? I can't imagine working over 60 hours/week in the future with no work-life balance whatsoever.
You're majorly overworked! My experience is that neuro-focused students are likely to take on heavier loads, unfortunately.

I'm not a neuropsychologist and things will obviously look different based on setting/job but my work/life balance is WAY better now that school and training is over. Not having school/research burdens is major and being able to direct all of my 'work' energy to a single specific setting helps me a lot.
On top of all that, I've been wanting things that I didn't think I wanted so soon before starting the program. Things like getting married, starting a family, making income, etc. As a 25-year old in this generation, I feel so behind on all these adult things. I feel like I can't do any of these things because I am stuck in graduate school.
Plenty of people get married or start families during grad school or internship/postdoc so that's definitely doable (although you will be limited by income), even if it's stressful and requires more coordination between student, program, sites, etc.

And feeling 'adult' at least somewhat comes back to perspective. I went to a hippie liberal arts college and myself and many of my friends were working on organic farms or doing seasonal outdoor trip guiding or other non-career track stuff at age 25. It sounds like your peer group might be especially career-oriented which might make it harder to really hone into what you really want and need.
 
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Yes, I am scheduled for 3 full days just for neuropsych during my external practicum year. I start at 7:30am - ~8:00pm. It takes me anywhere between 1.5-2hrs to get to my site in the morning due to the terrible traffic in SoCal and 1hr to get back home in the evening. There's no flexibility in the schedule or hours. I barely get a lunch break or a few mins to eat for 2/3 days that I go in.

To add to what @psych.meout mentioned, what are you other duties right now? I had 3 days of neuropsych practicum my third year (9-5 though), but I was just doing that, taking weekly neuropsych didactics with the interns/post-docs, and working my dissertation. So, manageable for me. I also lived two blocks from the medical center, so short walk to work.
 
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Sounds like you're getting burnt out because they're treating you like a workhorse. By any chance, is this a private practice or private clinic of some kind?

I can't imagine my program allowing me to do anything near this much for practicum. My mentor would have put the kibosh on that as soon as they mopped up all the coffee they spit out upon hearing about it.
This is a MC with both an inpatient and outpatient component. I talked to my supervisor and it's pretty much "you can leave once all your work is done" type scenario. But we never leave before 7:15pm on a good day. This doesn't include all the work and report writing we do outside of the site.
 
To add to what @psych.meout mentioned, what are you other duties right now? I had 3 days of neuropsych practicum my third year (9-5 though), but I was just doing that, taking weekly neuropsych didactics with the interns/post-docs, and working my dissertation. So, manageable for me. I also lived two blocks from the medical center, so short walk to work.
My duties are 3 full days of neuropsych with ridiculous hours - I get home and there's barely time left to shower, eat, and sleep. Outside of those 3 days, I have courses, research, and TA as a part-time job.
 
My duties are 3 full days of neuropsych with ridiculous hours - I get home and there's barely time left to shower, eat, and sleep. Outside of those 3 days, I have courses, research, and TA as a part-time job.
Yeah, those hours, consistently, are way too much for practicum. No wonder you are feeling this way. Have you talked to your DCT or other faculty about it?
 
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My duties are 3 full days of neuropsych with ridiculous hours - I get home and there's barely time left to shower, eat, and sleep. Outside of those 3 days, I have courses, research, and TA as a part-time job.
I think we all understand the burnout. How many classes are you taking? I imagine keeping up with a full course load might be challenging given the time limitations. Definitely discuss with your DCT and faculty advisor.
 
I think we all understand the burnout. How many classes are you taking? I imagine keeping up with a full course load might be challenging given the time limitations. Definitely discuss with your DCT and faculty advisor.
Even with taking just a couple of classes it's seems like way too much. I assumed that the onsite stuff was everything (i.e., report writing on-site because they may not have remote access), but if they're doing their report writing and other practicum-related tasks in addition to their 36 hours of on-site clinic work then it's way too much.

This is a MC with both an inpatient and outpatient component. I talked to my supervisor and it's pretty much "you can leave once all your work is done" type scenario. But we never leave before 7:15pm on a good day. This doesn't include all the work and report writing we do outside of the site.
Ok, but I'm asking if this is a for-profit clinic or if this is part of some academic entity. If it's the former then there are some serious issues with having practicum students doing full-time work for free.
 
Yeah, those hours, consistently, are way too much for practicum. No wonder you are feeling this way. Have you talked to your DCT or other faculty about it?
I haven't talked to DCT or faculty, I'm worried that it'll affect my current placement and letters of recommendation for pre-internship sites. I'm just confused because if I liked it then I shouldn't mind putting in all those hours.
 
Even with taking just a couple of classes it's seems like way too much. I assumed that the onsite stuff was everything (i.e., report writing on-site because they may not have remote access), but if they're doing their report writing and other practicum-related tasks in addition to their 36 hours of on-site clinic work then it's way too much.


Ok, but I'm asking if this is a for-profit clinic or if this is part of some academic entity. If it's the former then there are some serious issues with having practicum students doing full-time work for free.
The classes aren't even what's stressing me out at this point. The site is in a general hospital.
 
I haven't talked to DCT or faculty, I'm worried that it'll affect my current placement and letters of recommendation for pre-internship sites. I'm just confused because if I liked it then I shouldn't mind putting in all those hours.
Yeah, no. I enjoy my career. I enjoy nothing to the point of exhaustion. This practicum site is abusing you. If you keep this up and don't speak to anyone it will reflect in your other work and reflect badly upon you. Best to be open and honest with your struggles and get some help from those that have done this before.
 
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I haven't talked to DCT or faculty, I'm worried that it'll affect my current placement and letters of recommendation for pre-internship sites. I'm just confused because if I liked it then I shouldn't mind putting in all those hours.
Neither of these thing are true, tbh. No matter how much you like something, everyone will get completely burnt out on it if they can't rest. As for the other issue, the job of your DCT and faculty is to advocate for students, and they can and should be able to do this in subtle ways that don't point directly to you being unhappy. Plus, honestly, what your site is doing is bad, bordering on unethical, honestly.
 
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Even with taking just a couple of classes it's seems like way too much. I assumed that the onsite stuff was everything (i.e., report writing on-site because they may not have remote access), but if they're doing their report writing and other practicum-related tasks in addition to their 36 hours of on-site clinic work then it's way too much.


Ok, but I'm asking if this is a for-profit clinic or if this is part of some academic entity. If it's the former then there are some serious issues with having practicum students doing full-time work for free.

Well, yeah. This is why I was asking about other duties. I had my TA position and my dissertation class. However, my 30 hours of neuropsych included the weekly didactics and report writing. This sounds way too overloaded.
 
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I haven't talked to DCT or faculty, I'm worried that it'll affect my current placement and letters of recommendation for pre-internship sites. I'm just confused because if I liked it then I shouldn't mind putting in all those hours.
Even if you were obsessed with neuropsychology, this is a crazy schedule for a practicum / graduate student.

I don't think I started seeing 3 cases / week until internship (granted I went to a research-heavy program that had in-house pracs)

Allow yourself some grace...this schedule is a lot

I often felt behind my non-psychology peers throughout training and still struggle with work / life balance as an ECNP (though it's much better than it was during grad school). Becoming a licensed NP felt so good and alleviated much of the stress / angst I felt throughout training -- but now I have new stressors and faculty-related headaches. Grass is greener, but still needs mowing.
 
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I've heard similar sentiments from peers who felt like neuropsych training (even if it's intellectually interesting and they were good at it) was getting them further and further away from career satisfaction, which sometimes led to moving away from neuropsych.

The good news is that there's a lot of different ways to work with people and contribute meaningfully to their lives. The bad news is that you're knee deep financially already - whether you get out, continue with neuropsych, or continue in a non-neuropsych direction.

Have you ever done any career assessment? The ONET Interest Profiler is super quick and not very detailed but could be interesting to review. The Minnesota Importance Questionnaire is much more detailed and specifically focused on work values, rather than specific tasks.

You're majorly overworked! My experience is that neuro-focused students are likely to take on heavier loads, unfortunately.

I'm not a neuropsychologist and things will obviously look different based on setting/job but my work/life balance is WAY better now that school and training is over. Not having school/research burdens is major and being able to direct all of my 'work' energy to a single specific setting helps me a lot.

Plenty of people get married or start families during grad school or internship/postdoc so that's definitely doable (although you will be limited by income), even if it's stressful and requires more coordination between student, program, sites, etc.

And feeling 'adult' at least somewhat comes back to perspective. I went to a hippie liberal arts college and myself and many of my friends were working on organic farms or doing seasonal outdoor trip guiding or other non-career track stuff at age 25. It sounds like your peer group might be especially career-oriented which might make it harder to really hone into what you really want and need.
Did any of your peers who went into neuropsych also do therapy? Or did most of them choose solely neuropsych? I'm trying to figure out what keeps people in this field going. Even though I'm already deep in student loans, at this point, I would rather do something that I'm passionate about.

I did a few career assessments that all lead into a role that has to do with a helping profession or marketing/business.

Do you mind me asking what specific specialty you went into and whether you're happy with where you're at? Career satisfaction?
 
Likely program/clinical site dependent. I am in the same boat, as I wear a few different hats (TA, research, coursework, clinical work, etc) and it's getting harder to manage everything. On top of all that, I've been wanting things that I didn't think I wanted so soon before starting the program. Things like getting married, starting a family, making income, etc. As a 25-year old in this generation, I feel so behind on all these adult things. I feel like I can't do any of these things because I am stuck in graduate school.

Is there freedom and flexibility after training?
There is a ton of great advice and communication of norms in this thread, but I wanted to directly address you concerns about being behind on "adult" things. I strongly agree with everything @summerbabe said: whether you are succeeding on being an adult comes down to values and is influenced by who you're comparing yourself with. For context, I went to a very competitive/academically-focused school for undergrad and my friends are all over the map in terms of what they've done post-graduation. Some are married and are starting a family, some have climbed the tech or finance ladder and make ridiculous amounts of money, half or more have or are pursuing advanced degrees, and some are still working seasonal jobs and focusing on quality of life. There is no way I could simultaneously achieve all that, so I could always compare myself to a single person and decide I'm not living up to their success; it's much harder to see how they might not be living up to our own accomplishments, because we frequently undervalue what we're good at.

I'm in my late 20s, have been perpetually single, have completely changed careers a few times, have taken at least a year of time off since undergrad to travel and pursue different experiences. To many this could look disorganized and like I've failed to reach my potential, but what I value most is diversity and quality of experience. I am succeeding in living up to my own values regardless of what this looks like to others, and I have to remind myself of this when others look down on my path or when I see someone else's success and feel less-than. Every thing you commit to requires giving infinite more possibilities up. Recognize both sides of this, choose intentionally, and only compare yourself to your own standards.
 
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Did any of your peers who went into neuropsych also do therapy?
Know a people who continued on and others who went into therapy-focused roles. The ones who transitioned away from neuro probably had greater interest in therapy or other aspect of psychology already as a baseline.
I'm trying to figure out what keeps people in this field going. Do you mind me asking what specific specialty you went into and whether you're happy with where you're at? Career satisfaction?
I'm a generalist and have always pursued variety in my training. I did internship and postdoc at the VA and now am onto my 2nd staff role in the VA. I lucked into a pretty awesome 2nd job with healthy and functional leadership who support us doing good clinical work, which reinforces my overall reasons for entering this field (even though my initial goal was to work in a college counseling setting).

I have skills that could be applied elsewhere and I'm reasonably confident that I can be successful in other fields, including ones where I'd probably make more money. But money has never been a major driver for me and for me, the combination of interpersonal-based work with science is a good fit and better than something purely social and much better than something purely scientific.
I haven't talked to DCT or faculty, I'm worried that it'll affect my current placement and letters of recommendation for pre-internship sites. I'm just confused because if I liked it then I shouldn't mind putting in all those hours.
If you're honestly thinking about dropping out, I wouldn't worry about future letters/placements and focus on current problem solving. I have been in many situations where getting to a reasonable clinical load made everything waaaaaaaaay better. You can love chocolate but if I made you eat 2 pounds of it in one sitting, your stomach is gonna hurt and you'll probably hurl.
 
Thank you for your response and perspective. Since you've had similar experiences during your graduate training, what helped you continue moving forward rather than quitting? Is there light at the end of the tunnel for post-grads in this field in terms of financial stability and work-life balance?
For me, it was mostly about just riding it out. For better or worse, I have pretty good task persistence. Even if I couldn't take a couple weeks off from "work" I could usually at least refocus my efforts for a period of time on something I did enjoy. Oftentimes that was attending a conference or training that gave me umpteen new research ideas or even just binge-reading articles in some new area I knew little about but found really interesting. As for afterwards, you certainly CAN have somewhat more control over your work-life balance after you finish training (incl. post-doc). That doesn't guarantee anything, but you have more freedom to walk away and do something else than you do in training (or at least the consequences are not as severe). Financial stability I suppose depends on circumstances and perspective. Admittedly, I came from a funded program so did not have student loans. Even post-doc (nowadays ~50k salary) is far more livable than a typical grad/intern stipend. I'm unusually well-compensated in my current role, but should gross closer to 200k than 100k this year (+ very generous benefits) and am still early career by most any definition. I don't do any clinical work so its a path that may not be applicable to you, but these gigs are out there. That's a pretty solid living anywhere and I've genuinely been amazed how quickly I've been able to make up lost financial ground. Obviously you'll never match the silicon valley programmer making 300k at age 24, but you presumably knew that when choosing this field.

Also, your hours are insane. And this is coming from someone who routinely works insane hours. At least I can write grants from home. I'm guessing at the type of school you may be attending, but they are known for placing students in what are essentially predatory practicum situations just because they need to lower the bar to accommodate what is often an unusually large class size.
 
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Did any of your peers who went into neuropsych also do therapy? Or did most of them choose solely neuropsych? I'm trying to figure out what keeps people in this field going. Even though I'm already deep in student loans, at this point, I would rather do something that I'm passionate about.

I did a few career assessments that all lead into a role that has to do with a helping profession or marketing/business.

Do you mind me asking what specific specialty you went into and whether you're happy with where you're at? Career satisfaction?

I started out on a neuropsych track and pivoted into geriatrics and rehab work, which allow me to do briefer assessments and more therapy. Many people change their focus over the course of grad school. As often as not, this is as a result of bad experiences. I know that was a large portion of my pivot. My externships were great, but on my internship neuropsych was a grind with supervisory issues and a very disorganized clinic (they expected to finish a full battery, score, and write the report in one day with a scheduled didactics in the middle of all of that). It's not uncommon and you can come back from this experience if you want to. The question is whether this experience has soured you on the profession as a whole or just this particular job/externship. Be careful to overgeneralize an experience that is not universal.
 
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If you're honestly thinking about dropping out, I wouldn't worry about future letters/placements and focus on current problem solving. I have been in many situations where getting to a reasonable clinical load made everything waaaaaaaaay better. You can love chocolate but if I made you eat 2 pounds of it in one sitting, your stomach is gonna hurt and you'll probably hurl.
Are we talking Lindt milk or dark chocolate? If so, I would consider testing this hypothesis.
 
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Those clinical demands are (likely) not appropriate for your current status in training. While feeling like a dinosaur (officially out of early-career status), here are what I did in regard to prac hours:

1st year: Pre-Prac in the spring. 8-12hr/WK. Doing intakes and observing testing thru the uni testing clinic. The hours were what time I spent.

2nd yr: 12-15hr of therapy + testing. Writing up assessment reports took more time outside of those hours, prob 4-6+ hr/WK per case...which was mostly 1 per WK. I tested adolescents w LD, emotional, & dev problems and did a couple of Ed groups and a few individual cases per WK.

3rd yr: 18-24hr, therapy > assessment. This was a desirable site, so I put up w longer hours and demands...sometimes doing a little work outside of those hours. I did go on to work at the site, so it was worth it.....I guess. It was normal that the 2nd prac was more hours, but also to include more supervision. Students can get milked for hours and that is a fast-track to burnout.


After that it was a job, tech, and teaching jobs for yrs 4 & 5. I think if you can get your prac hours scaled back, that could really make a difference.
 
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