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What are career options that are a mixture of clinical work and research?

kikudog6

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I'm currently working towards my PhD (just finished my 2nd year) in clinical psychology in the US. The program I'm in is under the clinical scientist model, meaning there's a focus on research and clinical work (e.g. psychotherapy and assessments). I enjoy both of these areas, but am less interested in working in academia. My question is whether there are opportunities for a future career that combines clinical work and research? It seems a lot of positions are academic/research or clinical only. I would greatly appreciate any info people have on what positions I should be looking at or even resources I can use to further explore.
 

beginner2011

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Firstly, even if a position is 100% clinical or 100% research, your training will have prepared you to do some small part of the other -- that may have to be on your own time, but you will have the training (and hopefully connections) to do so.

I'm on internship right now, and the impression that I have is that yes, most positions will have a vested interest in you focusing your time and attention on specializing in either clinical work or research. If you're hired as a professor in a psychiatry or psychology dept to do research then they're going to want you to be pumping out research products and grants and having as large an impact on the field as you can. They're not going to be paying you to see patients.

If you're hired as a clinician by a VA or another health care system they're going to want you to be focused on direct, billable, patient contact hours, or at the very least improving their clinical care procedures such that you're helping them increase patient contact hours or the quality of patient care within their facility. They're not going to be paying you to work on grants, conduct research, or produce manuscripts.

There are exceptions to this general rule, but from what I can tell it's basically up to the individual to create space for the other side within a position in one of these two domains. The position isn't going to exist before your advocate for it and provide evidence that it is fiscally sound.
 
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Ollie123

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I'd take a good hard look at AMCs before ruling out academia. My experience is many students (understandably) are more familiar with "academia" in psychology departments than medical schools. There are lots of opportunities for hybrid roles. A true 50/50 split is hard, but virtually everyone here has <some> involvement in research and as long as they are licensed have <some> involvement in patient care - at least up til the point they voluntarily give it up for more admin/research time.

Folks doing implementation science and process-improvement work might also be a good fit. Research, but VERY VERY applied research and often with very different pathways to funding and expectations for publication. These positions are still a little outside the mainstream, but becoming more common.
 
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PsychPhDone

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I'm currently working towards my PhD (just finished my 2nd year) in clinical psychology in the US. The program I'm in is under the clinical scientist model, meaning there's a focus on research and clinical work (e.g. psychotherapy and assessments). I enjoy both of these areas, but am less interested in working in academia. My question is whether there are opportunities for a future career that combines clinical work and research? It seems a lot of positions are academic/research or clinical only. I would greatly appreciate any info people have on what positions I should be looking at or even resources I can use to further explore.
I'm on internship right now, and the impression that I have is that yes, most positions will have a vested interest in you focusing your time and attention on specializing in either clinical work or research. If you're hired as a professor in a psychiatry or psychology dept to do research then they're going to want you to be pumping out research products and grants and having as large an impact on the field as you can. They're not going to be paying you t you're hired as a clinician by a VA or another health care system they're going to want you to be focused on direct, billable, patient contact hours, or at the very least improving their clinical care procedures such that you're helping them increase patient contact hours or the quality of patient care within their facility. They're not going to be paying you to work on grants, conduct research, or produce manuscripts.
Like others have suggested, it's easier to go from primarily research to primarily clinical than the other way around so try to keep focusing on your research.

I'm in a 75 percent research/25 percent clinical position in a va/AMC. I do clinical research and am happy with this setup. I wanted to mention that at my va, almost every clinician (at least psychologist) is mapped to some research time, usually a day a week. It's hard to be PI on a project at less than 75% effort but you can be involved as a co-investigator, consultant, study therapist, etc in a primarily clinical role. If that interests you, you'll want to look at VAs that have an academic affiliate and a culture of research involvement.
 

cara susanna

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Just a precaution that even at research-y VAs your time will get eaten back up by clinical if you don't maintain funding or involvement on projects. I knew a former VA PI who that happened to. This person was pretty bitter and warned me (back when I was looking at a VA research careeer) that it would be better to get a faculty position at a university and maintain research ties to a VA.
 
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futureapppsy2

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Just a precaution that even at research-y VAs your time will get eaten back up by clinical if you don't maintain funding or involvement on projects. I knew a former VA PI who that happened to. This person was pretty bitter and warned me (back when I was looking at a VA research careeer) that it would be better to get a faculty position at a university and maintain research ties to a VA.
So, basically, if you don't do part of your job, you'll be expected to other things in order to earn your salary? I'm a tad lost as to how this would be surprising to someone.
 

Therapist4Chnge

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The only time I've seen a VA position actually provide a split between clinical and research are at VAs that also have an academic affiliation...which are much less common. I know multiple ppl who had clear carve-outs for each place and it worked, but it took a lot of effort and getting everything in writing. It's far easier to be at the AMC and do some research through the VA than it is to be in the VA and do some research through an AMC.
 
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summerbabe

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For those looking into VA research positions, I'd look into MIRECCs/Centers of Excellence locations. For example, there was a CoE at my internship site (Central Texas System) and they offer multiple 2-year fellowships per year (VA.gov | Veterans Affairs) which would give people a chance to apply for grants and see if they can establish a research line.

Edit: Also, the fellows at this CoE who wanted to pursue licensure were able to get hooked up with clinics and therapy supervisors (primarily the PCT) so that can be a good backup in case one isn't able to secure enough grants or end up deciding against a research-based career after fellowship.
 
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AcronymAllergy

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Agree with what's been said above: there are different types of positions that allow for different types of splits, and academic medicine or MIRECC/CoE/VA with an academic affiliation would be good places to start looking. The degree of the split will probably vary quite a bit by location (and need at that location), but may also be negotiable. For example, maybe you start as 50/50 clinical/research, but with the option to "buy back" up to 25% additional time into research via funding. Or, as in cara's example, you start as perhaps 70/30 research/clinical but have trouble securing grant funding, so your employer essentially says, "look, either we terminate your position or you agree to spend an extra two days a week in the clinic seeing patients."

Most positions are still going to be 100% clinical, but I wouldn't say those advertising for some type of split are rare. You may just need to be a bit more geographically flexible when job searching. And prepared to deal with the unique stresses that can come from soft money positions.
 
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cara susanna

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For those looking into VA research positions, I'd look into MIRECCs/Centers of Excellence locations. For example, there was a CoE at my internship site (Central Texas System) and they offer multiple 2-year fellowships per year (VA.gov | Veterans Affairs) which would give people a chance to apply for grants and see if they can establish a research line.

Edit: Also, the fellows at this CoE who wanted to pursue licensure were able to get hooked up with clinics and therapy supervisors (primarily the PCT) so that can be a good backup in case one isn't able to secure enough grants or end up deciding against a research-based career after fellowship.

I did one of these fellowships and it's basically endlessly applying for funding. Get a CDA on fellowship, then start working on your merit grant while you're doing your CDA study, etc. More than one fellow I knew had actually done another research post doc prior to the VA one. I agree that it's nice and flexible, though, and I actually loved my fellowship.
 
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Ollie123

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So, basically, if you don't do part of your job, you'll be expected to other things in order to earn your salary? I'm a tad lost as to how this would be surprising to someone.

Guess it depends on exact context. Some VA research gigs are very much like soft-money academia. Funding lines for NIH grants are now commonly < 10% so one can be working non-stop on research and still get pulled back into the clinical realm just because they had a streak of bad luck. I think the VA funding lines are usually a bit higher, but competition is still quite intense.
 
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futureapppsy2

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Guess it depends on exact context. Some VA research gigs are very much like soft-money academia. Funding lines for NIH grants are now commonly < 10% so one can be working non-stop on research and still get pulled back into the clinical realm just because they had a streak of bad luck. I think the VA funding lines are usually a bit higher, but competition is still quite intense.
And you know what happens in soft money academia when you don't get funding? You don't have a job. Plus, the OP stated "funding OR involvement", not just funding. If you can't get it together to be involved in research and want to be funded as researcher, that's really stupid. I'm sorry, but people complaining about having multiple routes of job security is the single dumbest thing I've seen on this forum.
 
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cara susanna

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And you know what happens in soft money academia when you don't get funding? You don't have a job. Plus, the OP stated "funding OR involvement", not just funding. If you can't get it together to be involved in research and want to be funded as researcher, that's really stupid. I'm sorry, but people complaining about having multiple routes of job security is the single dumbest thing I've seen on this forum.

To be fair, the person said this to me when I was pursuing a VA research career so it wasn't general complaining, more like "just FYI."
 
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Ollie123

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Ah, I read "involvement" as "listed investigator on large-scale funded research capable of fully supporting one's salary". If it literally just meant this person had no funding and wasn't willing to help out with other ongoing projects than I agree that is nuts. I took it more as directing someone towards traditional psychology dept faculty, where one can continue research without necessarily being expected to have a couple million dollars in grant funding at all times. Which I do think makes sense and is fair - there are some serious pros/cons to the soft-money/AMC lifestyle. I say one week away from the R01 submission deadline with a very haggard look about me and a family I've barely seen in the last 4 weeks...
 
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PsychPhDone

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Ah, I read "involvement" as "listed investigator on large-scale funded research capable of fully supporting one's salary". If it literally just meant this person had no funding and wasn't willing to help out with other ongoing projects than I agree that is nuts. I took it more as directing someone towards traditional psychology dept faculty, where one can continue research without necessarily being expected to have a couple million dollars in grant funding at all times. Which I do think makes sense and is fair - there are some serious pros/cons to the soft-money/AMC lifestyle. I say one week away from the R01 submission deadline with a very haggard look about me and a family I've barely seen in the last 4 weeks...
Good Luck!!
 
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