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Thoughts on Mercer Clinical Medical Psychology program?

Discussion in 'Psychology [Psy.D. / Ph.D.]' started by Psy443, Jan 5, 2017.

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  1. Psy443

    Psy443

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    What are everyone's thoughts on this program? To my understanding both the Ph.D and Psy.D program are not accredited yet because the program is new (4 years old I think). The program is located within the medical school and not some freestanding professional school, which is a good sign. Is it worth seriously considering?
     
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  3. psych.meout

    psych.meout

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    I could be wrong, but the program looks like it isn't funded and costs at least $90,000 in tuition alone, without including interest on the loans for tuition and living expenses. This is somewhat cheaper than other unfunded doctoral programs, which can run more than $150,000, but it's still a significant sum. It's already difficult enough to complete accredited doctoral programs with funding, so it may be unwise to attend an unfunded program whose accreditation is pending.
     
  4. Psy443

    Psy443

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    I had a full-ride for undergrad, so luckily I won't have to take out loans to pay for grad school. Financial aspect aside what do you think about the program? Will it most likely get accredited and how long does it usually take for that to happen?
     
  5. psych.meout

    psych.meout

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    I'm not sure what you mean.

    Tuition alone is about $1,000 per credit hour.
    https://chp.mercer.edu/admissions/tuition-financial-planning/

    The program is 37 credits in year 1, 21 credits in year 2, 16 credits in year 3, and 9 credits each in years 4 and 5 for a total of 92 credit hours.
    https://chp.mercer.edu/academics-departments/clinical-medical-psychology/psyd-program/curriculum/

    Do you have ~$92,000 laying around to pay for this? Do you have extra funds available to pay for living expenses for 5+ years? Attending a doctoral programs is a full-time job (and then some), so it's not really feasible to work during the program to pay for it.

    I don't really know anything about that specific program, so I can't speak to its quality, but I'm already wary of unfunded programs in general, let alone ones whose accreditations are still pending.
     
  6. Psy443

    Psy443

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    Yes my parents had a college fund for me, but I chose to attend undergrad for free knowing I was probably going to pursue some type of grad school, which I would use my college fund for. Like I said I am extremely fortunate that my parents were able to afford having a college fund for me. I've worked throughout undergrad too and been pretty frugal with my spending, so I'll be able to handle living expenses for that time. If I had to take out loans I definitely would not be considering unfunded options. The biggest concern for me is that it's unaccredited.
     
  7. MamaPhD

    MamaPhD Psychologist, Academic Medical Center 7+ Year Member

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    The program is too new to have student outcome data, and is unaccredited. It might be a fine program in the long run, but for now I wouldn't gamble with money, whether mine or anyone else's, on a degree that may or may not impede your ability to become licensed.
     
  8. psych.meout

    psych.meout

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    Exactly. I know that they have to enroll and train students as part of the accreditation process, therefore someone has to take this gamble of attending programs whose accreditations are pending. I just wouldn't want to be one of those students and having to pay for a program that isn't accredited would definitely be a deal-breaker.
     
  9. psych.meout

    psych.meout

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    Ok, but look at the opportunity cost here. Attending an unfunded program means you'll be spending your or your parents' money not only on tuition, but also living expenses. Funded programs are generally tuition-free and provide stipends to offset living expenses as part of being TAs or RAs, or if you are lucky enough to get fellowships or scholarships that don't require any work. Think about what you could do with all that money you and your parents have saved by attending a funded program. The compound interest alone should give you pause before attending an unfunded program.
     
  10. Wendi22

    Wendi22

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    I have two friends that are currently enrolled in that program. Overall they are happy there but one of them told me that she took the offer because she could not get in anywhere else and that it is very expensive (I realize this is not a reflection of everyone who chooses to go there but just wanted to state that she does realize that the program not being accredited makes it a very risky pick). She has also mentioned that the program is in a state of flux as they are trying to get accreditation, which has led to major changes throughout her time in the program.

    You mentioned that your biggest concern is that it is unaccredited. In short, I had an advisor/mentor that told me to never take the risk of applying or attending an unaccredited program.

    Sent from my iPad using SDN mobile
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2017
  11. Psy443

    Psy443

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    Thank you everyone especially Wendi22. This was all very helpful!
     
  12. DynamicDidactic

    DynamicDidactic Ass of Prof 7+ Year Member

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    sage advise
     
  13. Schadenfreudian

    Schadenfreudian

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    Hi all, I'm a student in Mercer's CMP program currently. I was googling our recently updated site and came across this thread, thought I would pop in to try and answer some questions. I agree with everything so far, that it's expensive and unaccredited (currently). Some updates for anyone else considering.

    The program is no longer located at the Macon campus and is no longer a part of the med school, but instead is under the College of Health Professions at the Atlanta campus with PT, PA, and Public Health. Pharmacy and Nursing programs are also located at the Atlanta campus and our program interacts a lot with these other fields as part of our curriculum and research.

    The program has an APA site visit scheduled for the end of September (2017). I believe only our PsyD program is on deck for accreditation and AFAIK there are no students in the PhD section currently. From a student perspective, I've only heard positive things about our chances. Our director has helped other programs get accredited and, after speaking to a few of them, we have a lot of support from prominent psychologists in the community. I have also heard indirectly that we have support from some on the national level, due to our focus on health care integration. Plus, our first two internship classes all matched in Phase I, some at accredited sites. I also am under the impression that they had minimal (if any) revisions to do on their self-study. Keep in mind though that I'm just a student.

    In terms of cost, there are more opportunities now for GA and RA positions (almost everyone who applied got one, from what I heard) and several students have found paying positions around Atlanta. But it still costs quite a bit more than a funded program, less than med school

    My reasoning for posting this is its basically impossible to get clear and direct information online, without "someone on the inside". Especially when considering a risk like this. If anyone has any other questions I'm happy to share what I know. It was not a straight-forward decision coming to this program but I think it has been the right one for me.
     
  14. WisNeuro

    WisNeuro Board Certified Neuropsychologist 7+ Year Member

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    No clinical psych program is worth 6 figures of tuition.
     
  15. psych.meout

    psych.meout

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    I don't know about anyone else, but this is not comforting to me. This kind of large reorganization of the program screams "instability" to me, even if it is in service of getting accreditation. It tells me that the initial organization and structure of the program was not well-designed and needed massive overhaul or that there are issues within the overall university, e.g. disagreement over who will be administering or funding the program.

    Talk about burying the lede. I know that it's a bit of a catch-22 for new programs seeking accreditation, but unaccredited internships should never be unacceptable and the internship match rate should likely be used as proxy for the program's quality and its chances for accreditation.

    The problem with this reasoning is that many, many doctoral program in clinical/counseling psychology are fully funded, providing stipends, full tuition remission, and often heath insurance to their students. Furthermore, a student should not be responsible for obtaining their own basic funding (grants for research are a different matter) by obtaining outside employment. I know that many students get outside work or extra work at their practica to pick up some extra money, but not doing so isn't impacting their basic full funding.

    Except that med school grads, depending on the specialty, make many times more than clinical/counseling doctoral program grads do, so it's not really intellectually honest to directly compare program costs and debt in this manner.

    I don't think you need to be "on the inside" to make a fairly good assessment of the program and the risk level involved in choosing it. Attending an unaccredited and sparsely funded program should be really be out of the question.
     
  16. WisNeuro

    WisNeuro Board Certified Neuropsychologist 7+ Year Member

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    New programs can get a pass on the accreditation stuff, within reason. It's just the name of the game, they need cohorts to go through before they can get that. I'm not willing to give a program a pass on exorbitant tuition, though. That tuition is actually higher than my wife's med school tuition.
     
  17. psych.meout

    psych.meout

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    And that's what I'm really getting down to. If the program was fully funded, most of these issues could probably get a pass, because the program has a significantly greater incentive to do right by the students. They aren't really getting much from the students if they have poor outcomes, e.g. don't match to an accredited internship, drop out because they can't afford the tuition and cost of living, are so overworked and exhausted because they have to get outside employment to simply survive, etc.

    It's not really fair to the students to ask them to shoulder both the financial burden and the uncertainty of the program's accreditation and outcomes. I understand there are growing pains, but having both the finances and the quality of the training being contentious is a bridge too far for me.
     
  18. Schadenfreudian

    Schadenfreudian

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    Hi again, forgive me if I don't use the quoting system properly here. Totally agree with you here, there has definitely been some instability. The original director of the program went an unconventional route and started a PhD program with no existing masters program in psychology, which is apparently rare and difficult to pull off. From what I have heard from the original cohort, when someone with experience accrediting a program took over as director, the decision to switch to Psy.D. and move to Atlanta was made. Mainly to speed the timeline to accreditation and to open up opportunities for practicum sites and new professors. Macon is really too small of a town to support those needs IMO.

    With APPIC now requiring programs to be accredited before even letting them into the Match, I think the fact that any students got matched to accredited sites is good? I asked around and most of our last group of interns went to accredited sites and some to ones awaiting site visit in the next year. If we were accredited already, I would totally agree about unaccredited internships. But I mean, even if it's not ideal, somebody has to go to unaccredited sites, otherwise they won't get accredited, sounds like a place for students from unaccredited programs!

    I think the key difference here is that this is a PsyD program now. Seems like we're pretty comparable for PsyD programs. As far as I know too, most other PsyDs aren't funded? The PhD/PsyD debate is a whole different story. Then breaking it down to subspecialties changes things too since this is a clinical health program (fundamentally, despite the "medical" name) . I was looking at the costs section from this page: Frequently Asked Questions About Graduate School

    I was honestly trying to frame the school cost alone. If you want to talk about sunk cost vs earning potential I agree with you, with consideration to variance in psych specialty too. I'd like to say again, I'm just trying to help provide info, I'm not trying to trick or convince anyone to join our program in particular.

    I totally respect your opinion but to some extent will have to disagree here. On one level, if you're looking for an accredited and funded research/PhD program, you're sort of on the wrong thread anyway (though by the time some read this we may be accredited). There are loads of programs out there that already fit that description, so there's not much point in quibbling about the details of our particular program below that. We just don't meet that standard. For those interested in exploring the options outside of that, taking a calculated risk (and it is ultimately a risk), I'm trying to help provide some more information to gauge it. I saw the risk when I applied and felt it was worth taking in order to be a part of creating something new and being on the cutting edge of a subspecialty.
     
  19. ClinicalABA

    ClinicalABA 5+ Year Member

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    Sounds like you made some good financial decisions and engaged in financially sound behaviors up to this point so as to not only throw away your college fund but add to it. Kudos. Why would you see that as a reason to now take a huge financial risk with a non-funded, non-accredited program? Seriously- reread your post. Basically, you're saying that your financial prudence to this point is an excuse for financial imprudence.
     
  20. Psy443

    Psy443

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    This thread is pretty old, but I ended up not attending my interview at Mercer because their dates conflicted with several of my other interviews. I ultimately accepted an offer to a respectable university-based PsyD program that offered me a surprisingly good amount of funding, consistently has a Phase I APA match rate of ~90%, and allowed me to do research and clinical activities with my desired population from day 1. Oh and I didn't have to take out any loans!
     
    ClinicalABA likes this.
  21. WisNeuro

    WisNeuro Board Certified Neuropsychologist 7+ Year Member

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