autumn7

5+ Year Member
Sep 15, 2011
60
10
Status
Non-Student
I'm at a crossroads with my training, and could use a little input. How many of you (currently in PhD programs or post-grad) started with a master's in another field? I'm currently finishing up an MSW program, in which I had a great placement doing therapy in a psychiatry department.

I have no concern about being fulfilled with the clinical work as a Social Worker, but I know that I have somewhat more limited options in terms of building a professional life around theory and practice, teaching, and some involvement in research. Also, I have experienced the reality of the social work 'branding' issue -- in some parts of the country/world, you have to work a bit harder to gain professional clout.

Still, in the medical setting where I'm currently working, most of the clinicians are either social workers or psychiatrists, only a handful of psychologists and psych post-docs.

After this meandering, my questions are...

1) Have any of you switched from SW to Psych? And if so, did this work out for you?
2) As a grad student/post-doc/career psychologist, do you enjoy working with psychiatrists? Do you feel respected as a professional in medical settings?
3) Do you feel fulfilled in a clinical PhD program? (big questions...)
 

WisNeuro

Board Certified Neuropsychologist
10+ Year Member
Feb 15, 2009
10,158
8,843
Somewhere
Status
Psychologist
Different experience so I can only answer some of the latter questions. Also, I work with mostly psychologists as clinicians, psychiatrists are almost all med management and SW is mostly case mgmt.

1) N/A
2) I've had fairly contentious relationships with psychiatry. I don't see a whole lot of evidence based practices, and they do not like to be educated on them. May be a VA bias, but it's been pretty standard at the several VA's. A good one or two in every bunch, but many more not good ones.
3) Very much so, still love it.
 

MamaPhD

Psychologist, Academic Medical Center
7+ Year Member
Aug 2, 2010
2,075
1,944
Status
Psychologist
1) Have any of you switched from SW to Psych? And if so, did this work out for you?
2) As a grad student/post-doc/career psychologist, do you enjoy working with psychiatrists? Do you feel respected as a professional in medical settings?
3) Do you feel fulfilled in a clinical PhD program? (big questions...)
(1) I think moving from social work to psychology is relatively uncommon. I've never met anyone who took this path. But surely someone has done it.

(2) I can't generalize to all psychiatrists or to all settings. I'm fortunate in that most of my professional relationships with psychiatrists have been at least cordial, and a few have been quite collaborative. I also had a fantastic mentor who was a research-oriented psychiatrist. In some settings there is more tension between psychiatrists and psychologists. I've experienced a little of that tension, but fortunately it was not directed toward me personally nor was it relevant to my job. I think it depends a great deal on the local culture and structure of the setting.

(3) Whether you are fulfilled by a clinical PhD program will depend on the fit between the program and your training goals. My training was a good fit for me, I got what I wanted from it, and it happened in the right time in my life.
 
Aug 18, 2015
1
0
Status
Psychologist
p { margin-bottom: 0.1in; line-height: 120%; }

Now retired, I transitioned from social work (MSW) to psychology (PhD, Counseling Psychology) and made a career within VA. One important question is the return on your investment. In the VA where I practiced line social workers were GS11 and many worked themselves into GS12 positions. I was hired out of internship as an 11, spent one year as a 12 and the remainder of my career as a 13. Given today's cost of earning a doctorate, with the time spent out of the workforce you may well be better off financially staying in social work.
 

WisNeuro

Board Certified Neuropsychologist
10+ Year Member
Feb 15, 2009
10,158
8,843
Somewhere
Status
Psychologist
Cost varies quite a bit, some of us were paid to go to grad school. But, I agree, for those taking on an additional 6 figure debt, not worth it in the majority of circumstances.
 
Mar 24, 2014
4,393
3,841
Rural Area Medical Facilty
Status
Psychologist
1. haven't seen it
2. real world interactions with psychiatrists have been poor because i was in settings that didn't always have the cream of the crop to say the least. My best interactions with psychiatry have been on this board to be honest.
3. Went the PsyD route which cost me more money but overall I am completely gratified by what I do and what psychologists bring to the table. Grad school was stressful but the clinical rotations and hands on learning can't be beat.
 

Lyra33

7+ Year Member
Mar 14, 2010
45
22
Status
Psychologist
1. I have not personally, but I have a couple of friends that did this. One of my friends has become frustrated in her PhD program and states she wished she had just gone into a DSW program instead of switching to Clinical Psych. Her interests are primarily research-based, and while she is on internship now, I know that all the clinical hours were not something she has enjoyed. Another friend has had the exact opposite experience, and has enjoyed practicing psychology.
2. It's been a mixed experience. Some psychiatrists are great, completely willing to listen to your opinion, while others have dismissed as only being "a student" even while on internship.
3. I also went the PsyD route. I like what I do, but the loans are daunting even with a decent-paying job and the possibility of loan forgiveness. In my experience, I've worked with social workers who do everything from case management to therapy, and they have been usually well-respected.
 
OP
A

autumn7

5+ Year Member
Sep 15, 2011
60
10
Status
Non-Student
Thanks all, I appreciate the various perspectives. Cost is definitely something to consider. I do know of a couple people (family friends), who switched from SW to psych, though that was my parents generation. Seems rare in general.

I've had some positive experiences with psychiatrists, but I also find them to be the most likely bunch to dismiss social workers on a clinical team. Though many more of them are responsive and respectful. Ah well, such such is life...
 

AcronymAllergy

Neuropsychologist
Moderator
Gold Donor
7+ Year Member
Jan 7, 2010
7,337
1,645
Status
Psychologist
Just to provide yet another person's perspective:

1) N/A
2) I've worked in prior settings where the general atmosphere of psychiatry was dismissive toward psychology, although that didn't always apply on an individual-by-individual basis. Where I am currently, there are about a half-dozen psychiatrists along with 15 or so psychologists, a couple NPs, and a handful of social workers, and (perhaps surprisingly) everyone gets along great. I'd imagine part of that is a factor of the folks they've hired, and part has to do with the area supervisor, who actively fosters a collaborative atmosphere. For the psychologists, it probably also helps that we're voting members of the medical staff. There have been one or two physicians who've made semi-snide remarks in this regard, but they weren't psychiatrists. I can say I'd feel comfortable sending a close friend or family member to any of my immediate psychiatrist colleagues.
3) Very much; I'd do it again without question, although I'd be a bit more conservative about the amount of ultimately unnecessary loans I took out.