Dropping out/Quitting doctorate - does it happen?

Your chance to ask for advice on any aspect of career development that doesn't fit in any of the above categories
fr33
Posts: 2
Joined: Wed Jun 11, 2014 4:02 pm

Dropping out/Quitting doctorate - does it happen?

Post by fr33 » Sun Aug 10, 2014 11:15 am

Do people drop out or quit the doctorate?

I never hear anyone talk about it.

User avatar
Toria
Posts: 936
Joined: Tue Sep 15, 2009 10:00 am

Re: Dropping out/Quitting doctorate - does it happen?

Post by Toria » Sun Aug 10, 2014 11:45 am

It's not that common, but, yes, people do quit or drop out. That might be because they choose to leave or because they fail too many assignments (for example, my course has a rule that if you fail an assignment and then fail the resubmission you fail the course, unless you appeal the decision and this is accepted).
You can't stop the waves, but you can learn to surf - Jon Kabat-Zinn

lizzabadger
Posts: 133
Joined: Wed Jul 13, 2011 8:52 am

Re: Dropping out/Quitting doctorate - does it happen?

Post by lizzabadger » Sun Aug 10, 2014 12:43 pm

Someone year above me in training was kicked out (for failing exams two years running and other issues). I have heard of a few people dropping out voluntarily, especially overseas trainees. It's very rare though I think.

Alex
Posts: 314
Joined: Tue Aug 23, 2011 10:01 pm

Re: Dropping out/Quitting doctorate - does it happen?

Post by Alex » Sun Aug 10, 2014 3:45 pm

Yes, people drop out for personal reasons (e.g. mental health difficulties, life circumstances) or fail (usually not pass a couple of assignments or placements). On my course its about one person a year has either failed or quit. The national attrition rate for the academic year 2011/2012 was only 0.61%, which includes both people who dropped out of a course and people who failed (on clearing house). It is low. The courses tends to not want people to fail as it does not look good on them. Trainees have hiccups on courses like failing an assignment or troubles with a supervisor on placement but usually they are ironed out in the end.

I think people don't talk about it - firstly because it does not happen often and secondly it can be quite traumatic for the individual and the cohort so it sometimes avoided.

ElizabethB
Posts: 982
Joined: Sun Apr 13, 2008 8:42 pm

Re: Dropping out/Quitting doctorate - does it happen?

Post by ElizabethB » Sun Aug 10, 2014 3:51 pm

Yes, it happens. Very interested in the differences between doctorates (and competencies across career pathways) at the moment which is why I'm contributing here :oops:

I think attrition rates occur within and across all doctorates (PhD, DHealthPsy, DClinPsy, medicine), but I suspect rates may differ across doctorates depending on popularity or favourable views of course, funding options, university regulations/rules on failing assignments, support networks and personal circumstances etc. I think the DCP and/or Clearing House perhaps even publications on higher eduation mentions something about high completion rates for clinical training as a way of highlighting the strengths and appeal of CP training, so I think the drop out rates are probably very low (or any drop outs are seldom talked about within public domains anyway!).

Also reflecting and thinking about motivations for people who don't complete training- ie for some maybe the best way forward in light of circumstances rather than putting self and others at risk? Wondering about individual stress, shaming effect (from self and others) and potential for marginalisation from peers (and wider social networks) following non completion (particuarly from very eager aspiring CPs, qualified CPs or job shortlisters)?

I met a CP who dropped out of medicine before starting the DClinPsy and judging how this person reacted to this disclosure, the reactions alone made me think about the sorts of impact that must have had both professionally and personally (and whether this person experiences any regrets about dropping out of medicine whilst working as a consultant CP). Noticed a similar sort of reaction from a colleague at my PhD university who dropped out of medicine to pursue an academic career which made me think about career changes and whether people are happy with their choices. Or maybe this was just my assumed reactions that non completion evoked a negative experience for them? Dropping out equally may not have evoked anything in them or provided a sense of relief?

Simiarly to some (most?) PhD candidates contemplate quitting during the process , I nearly dropped out of my PhD (numerous times!) for personal reasons, but I stuck it out, but the disclosure of non completion did evoke some internal stuff for me (which I managed to contain!) Not sure if this experience of wanting to quit is representative of clinical trainees (at least at least once during training?) I do often think and wonder about what would have happened if I dropped out or failed the viva (both personally and professionally). Consequently, the words 'dropping out' and 'quitting' for me evokes a sense of failure, but perhaps not shared by all as 'quitting' could be turned into a favourable light if the doctorate was causing some degree of significant distress and harm, so not always a bad thing or sense of failure? 'Quitting' in health promotion, substance misuse is typically viewed as a successful outcome, so aware of the context dependent nature associated with these terms.

Anyway, sorry for my rambling post :oops: :roll:
"I am different, not less."—Temple Grandin
'A door opened and I went through it!' Temple Grandin
"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." - Winston Churchill

User avatar
BlueCat
Moderator
Posts: 2844
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 2:42 pm

Re: Dropping out/Quitting doctorate - does it happen?

Post by BlueCat » Sun Aug 10, 2014 8:06 pm

Yes, people drop out, or fail, from time to time. Probably two or three a year, nationally, from the clearing house statistics (I think there must be a "0" missed out from the figures Alex provided, as 0.61 would make it twenty-something people a year, and 0.061 would make it two or three, which would fit with my experience of this). I guess people don't really talk about it because a) the person who has dropped out or failed they will either have reached closure on this career patch, or be grieving for it - either way, not likely to be sharing and b) the people around them who are aware someone dropped out or failed most likely don't want to gossip or talk about something that is another trainee's private business. However, I presume most CPs will know, or know of, someone who did not complete whilst they were a trainee. So it does happen, albeit rarely, as the selection process is so rigorous, and the standard of candidates so high.
There's no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes. Billy Connolly.

Alex
Posts: 314
Joined: Tue Aug 23, 2011 10:01 pm

Re: Dropping out/Quitting doctorate - does it happen?

Post by Alex » Sun Aug 10, 2014 9:29 pm

No, it was 0.61% on the clearing house website page (see link https://www.leeds.ac.uk/chpccp/BasicNumbers.html).

To me, 0.61% converts to 3 to 4 people in that academic year??

RGJ
Posts: 24
Joined: Sun Jul 10, 2011 4:25 pm

Re: Dropping out/Quitting doctorate - does it happen?

Post by RGJ » Sun Aug 10, 2014 9:52 pm

I think it depends on the course - I asked course directors/tutors that question and one looked into the distance and said 'I do remember one girl once, but that was more for personal reasons' whereas another one said that between 1 and 2 people on their course usually failed each year.

I see no reason to doubt the 0.61% figure either - if anything I would expect it to be higher (I know a few people who have dropped out or failed over the years). If say there were 594 places offered, that would be about 3 or 4 of those who wouldn't complete the course (BlueCat did you use the 'applicants' figures - I only say that because that's what I did first time!).

User avatar
BlueCat
Moderator
Posts: 2844
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 2:42 pm

Re: Dropping out/Quitting doctorate - does it happen?

Post by BlueCat » Sun Aug 10, 2014 9:54 pm

RGJ wrote: I see no reason to doubt the 0.61% figure either - if anything I would expect it to be higher (I know a few people who have dropped out or failed over the years). If say there were 594 places offered, that would be about 3 or 4 of those who wouldn't complete the course (BlueCat did you use the 'applicants' figures - I only say that because that's what I did first time!).
I did! Dim BlueCat. Handful, anyway :)
There's no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes. Billy Connolly.

fr33
Posts: 2
Joined: Wed Jun 11, 2014 4:02 pm

Re: Dropping out/Quitting doctorate - does it happen?

Post by fr33 » Mon Aug 11, 2014 11:34 am

Thanks everyone for your replies.

There was a rumour one trainee dropped out of my university a few years back but it is not talked about openly so I'm unsure if having serious doubts during the course itself are common.

I'm nearing the end of my first year as a trainee and my heart feels like it is just not in it as much as it was when I started. I feel such a sense of shame even voicing these doubts. I'm not sure if it is the career itself of just a shift in priorities. I struggle to think of completing the next 2 years.

I'm getting married early next year. I am in my late 30s and never considered having a family before I met him. My career was my priority. In the past few months I realise having a family is currently a bigger desire for me. I don't feel in a position where I could cope with being pregnant on the course. Both of my sisters experienced post-natal depression.

Everyone in my year seems so focused, and aside from minor issues with supervisors, I have never heard any doubts expressed.

In retrospect I should have posted this in the trainee section. I didn't expect so many replies.

han10
Posts: 213
Joined: Wed Jun 30, 2010 1:20 pm

Re: Dropping out/Quitting doctorate - does it happen?

Post by han10 » Mon Aug 11, 2014 12:28 pm

Hi fr33,

Firstly I wanted to say I can empathise with you. I don't know what advice you want (if any!) - but I will share with you my feelings as I was coming to the end of first year. I really struggled in first year and felt quite panicked at the thought of second and third year (everyone told me first year as a breeze and it got tough in second year - so I thought if i can't handle this....!) I took this to supervision....ok I broke down in tears one supervision session and it all came pouring out. I was passing placements and coursework without any problems and being praised on my work but still felt I wasn't good enough or that it would change in the next 2 years. This is something I have continued to deal with at times throughout training (and I imagine it will always be there once I am qualified). But, long story short - 2nd and 3rd year have got better - so if any of the anxieties are about if I can't handle 1st year - what are 2nd and 3rd going to be like - don't listen to anybody else about their journey - everyone manages this course differently.

I have to say talking about it with supervisors and course staff did really help me - and made me feel I wasn't the only one to have doubts. On our course we also started peer supervision sessions in the second year - these were also invaluable for making me realise everyone else had similar doubts about their capabilities and also the shine of getting on training had faded for everyone too. Most if not all of our cohort have said training was not the amazing thing they thought it would be, and many think they are not good enough,feel stressed by the course pressures and have contemplated alternative careers/don't see CP as what they will do forever - one of my cohort did some really interesting research on trainee expectations for her thesis so this is where I am getting this info from.

On the family planning front - several in my year/the year above have had families while on training - and actually they seem to be the one's who handle the course best as they are much more boundaried and keep the focus on this just being a job best. All have come back in a part time capacity in one way or another. But I understand that for you there are other factors that will influence whether this is an option for you.

I know one person who dropped out of training a couple of years ago (although do not know the reasons around this) they subsequently reapplied a couple of years later and are just finishing their doctorate. Another in the year above left the course after not passing assessments. On another course, I know someone dropped out after their first year last year because they decided it wasn't for them.

I don't know if any of that is helpful - in fact reading back your post I'm not sure my experiences are what you are talking about, but I will post this nonetheless to show there is a counter-narrative to training being some holy grail amazing experience. If you can - I would discuss your feelings with someone from the course or another trainee - so you can work out if this is a passing phase, what would need to be different for you to change your mind, or whether for you, it would be best to leave. If people judge, I feel that is their problem - only you are aware of all the facts, feelings and issues for you - if you are happy with the decision, then it is the right decision.

Good luck with your decision making.

User avatar
miriam
Site Admin
Posts: 7929
Joined: Sat Mar 24, 2007 11:20 pm
Location: Bucks
Contact:

Re: Dropping out/Quitting doctorate - does it happen?

Post by miriam » Mon Aug 11, 2014 1:32 pm

Indeed, don't feel bad about it. Not every job is right for every person, whether or not the places are competitive to get and other people seem to be happy has nothing to do with whether you feel like it is the right thing for you. Talk about it with a member of the course staff that you trust. The saying really is true - a problem shared is a problem halved.
Miriam

See my blog at http://clinpsyeye.wordpress.com

User avatar
Toria
Posts: 936
Joined: Tue Sep 15, 2009 10:00 am

Re: Dropping out/Quitting doctorate - does it happen?

Post by Toria » Mon Aug 11, 2014 7:27 pm

fr33,

I'm sorry to hear you're having a tough time, and hope whatever decision you make helps improve things for you.

Your post made me think of this thread: viewtopic.php?f=42&t=15012 - you are definitely not the only person to feel like this - even if people on your course don't experience similar difficulties or discuss them, lots of trainees do.

All the best with everything,

Toria
You can't stop the waves, but you can learn to surf - Jon Kabat-Zinn

User avatar
blue86
Posts: 362
Joined: Sat May 21, 2011 11:58 pm

Re: Dropping out/Quitting doctorate - does it happen?

Post by blue86 » Mon Aug 11, 2014 10:13 pm

fr33 wrote:Thanks everyone for your replies.

There was a rumour one trainee dropped out of my university a few years back but it is not talked about openly so I'm unsure if having serious doubts during the course itself are common.

I'm nearing the end of my first year as a trainee and my heart feels like it is just not in it as much as it was when I started. I feel such a sense of shame even voicing these doubts. I'm not sure if it is the career itself of just a shift in priorities. I struggle to think of completing the next 2 years.

I'm getting married early next year. I am in my late 30s and never considered having a family before I met him. My career was my priority. In the past few months I realise having a family is currently a bigger desire for me. I don't feel in a position where I could cope with being pregnant on the course. Both of my sisters experienced post-natal depression.

Everyone in my year seems so focused, and aside from minor issues with supervisors, I have never heard any doubts expressed.

In retrospect I should have posted this in the trainee section. I didn't expect so many replies.
fr33,

I sincerely emphatise, especially since I have a close friend who went through something quite similar. She was a PhD student and realised late in the course that she wanted more to start a family than get the degree. Thankfully, she got the chance to speak to her supervisor about it (a great mentor) and he went out of his way to make things flexible for her and she got to do both. She finished her degree this year, and has a lovely 1 year old as well.
I realise that she was lucky, but I hope that you also get a chance to speak to someone you can trust, instead of holding it in for so long. I don't think you should be ashamed for having doubts. I hope it works out for you!!
ElizabethB wrote: Or maybe this was just my assumed reactions that non completion evoked a negative experience for them? Dropping out equally may not have evoked anything in them or provided a sense of relief?
I don't think you were rambling, I think what you expressed is in the mind of many doctoral students in various fields.
After talking to some who did drop out, I noticed more a sense of relief in them than anything else. That to me meant that it was the right choice for them. I have also seen situations where people felt like you, and didn't want to feel like a failure and completed the programme. As far as I know they didn't regret it. I guess it's difficult to know what could have been.
Alex wrote:Yes, people drop out for personal reasons (e.g. mental health difficulties, life circumstances) or fail (usually not pass a couple of assignments or placements). On my course its about one person a year has either failed or quit. The national attrition rate for the academic year 2011/2012 was only 0.61%, which includes both people who dropped out of a course and people who failed (on clearing house). It is low.
Your post startled me a little. I realise that out of 500+ people some may fail or drop out, but if one particular courses loses yearly one person or two, that basically accounts for a large chunk of that percentage. Aren't there any warning signs? Is the course concerned about it? Could it be how the assignments are graded or maybe how trainees are selected? I personally would be concerned hearing this about a course I am interested in. Maybe I'm just paranoid :)

User avatar
enid
Posts: 739
Joined: Wed May 30, 2012 5:03 pm

Re: Dropping out/Quitting doctorate - does it happen?

Post by enid » Wed Aug 13, 2014 10:25 am

I also know someone who dropped out. She hasn't ever looked back - she really hated everything about it, and went in to something completely different.
There is lots of emotional support above - so just to say best of luck.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest