Let's talk about money

Your chance to ask for advice on any aspect of career development that doesn't fit in any of the above categories
missmoo
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Let's talk about money

Post by missmoo » Thu Jun 07, 2018 10:49 am

Hi folks. I'm a mature career changer hoping to train as a CP but there's one major obstacle in the way - money. I'm not used to lavish spending and I've spent the last 5 years working as a support worker, healthcare assistant and project officer while doing an OU degree so I'm not used to big wages either! The problem is this - I'm a single parent and both my Aspie kids are off to college this year (they're over 20 so no tax credits and no student loan for one of them). Supposing I managed to score an AP job to get clinical experience, NHS Band 4 wages just aren't going to cut it any longer (and I couldn't face working two jobs and being a carer).

So I need to do a) an appropriate Masters (I'm not eligible for funding as I have an unrelated MSc already - my fault) and b) gain clinical experience as an AP without going bankrupt. I realise my situation is rather particular BUT since we are all in the same boat regarding expensive postgrad courses and low paid support work or AP posts, how in the hell does anyone not living at home with their folks or a well-paid partner manage it?? :( Has the expense put anyone else of continuing on the CP path? (Guess not or you wouldn't still be on this forum :D) If not, how do you manage?

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missmoo
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Re: Let's talk about money

Post by missmoo » Thu Jun 07, 2018 11:22 am

I should add I'm in Scotland so availability of roles and funding is maybe a bit more limited than the rest of the UK.

NotReally
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Re: Let's talk about money

Post by NotReally » Fri Jun 08, 2018 10:33 am

Hi missmoo

You're surely right that we all need to find a way to overcome the funding challenge. Given that you have a family too, I'd guess it's more of an issue for you too.

My suggestion would be to gain clinical experience in other roles rather than as an AP. As people have pointed out on this forum, not everyone who gets onto the doctorate course gains clinical experience by being an AP. There was even a discussion somewhere where it was pointed out that one of the main differences between an AP and research assistant is the pay grade, as research assistants typically get paid a few thousand per year more than an AP.

Similarly, you could delay the career plans for a while whilst you take a better paid job that is only slightly relevant, with the aim of saving up and continuing with the original plan (AP or similarly relevant role and masters) in, lets say a year (or two). One of the things about qualifying in any profession, and certainly it seems in CP, is that people want it ASAP. For me, and I'm sure it's the same for you, I'd love to qualify, but not by putting me/my family in a precarious situation. You mention you've changed careers, could you go back to what you were doing for a while if it pays better? There's also a bunch of positions out there I.e. within the probation service, delivering sessional work etc that are on temp contracts but pay really well, and it's still slightly relevant as often you are working with people who have mental health issues. I'm sure nobody would hold it against you if you say you needed to take a slight detour in the last year or so because you're a single parent (I'd certainly hope they wouldn't anyway!).

missmoo
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Re: Let's talk about money

Post by missmoo » Fri Jun 08, 2018 4:30 pm

Thanks for your advice, NotReally.

Not sure I've been expecting it all to happen today as I've worked full-time in the mental health and NHS healthcare policy field for 5 years while doing my OU degree partly cos my old field won't have me back. That's why I'm so skint :)

Unfortunately, clinical psychologists and psychology professors are a shy bunch up here and you don't come across them much. If only I could catch one and get them to impart their wisdom so I can tick that box on the training application form. I'm trying to build a network of friendly ones but it's slow going. Shockingly, advertised RA posts here seem to require a PhD and I'm not funding that no matter how friendly the academics are!

It's certainly a funny, convoluted route to CP qualification. I do think that, perhaps, NES and whatever the other UK equivalent bodes are ought to look jointly at a more straightforward pathway (maybe along the same lines as pharmacy, which has an equivalent NHS grade structure to CP) with a specific academic/ training route at undergrad and masters level for people who want to be chartered clinical psychologists. I don't know any other AHP profession that requires this palaver - the training is built into the degree.

Fingers crossed, someone will drop into this thread with a big pot of money and AP posts for both of us but, failing that, best of luck with getting a place on training and making it as a fully-qualified CP!

NotReally
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Re: Let's talk about money

Post by NotReally » Fri Jun 08, 2018 5:58 pm

Amen to that! And to you!

Certainly know what you mean about the route to qualification, I have a few friends who are physio's/doctors/dentists etc. Looking at their career path compared to mine to date has me turning into a full on green eyed monster.

lingua_franca
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Re: Let's talk about money

Post by lingua_franca » Sat Jun 09, 2018 10:37 am

I don't have much specific advice (I don't have children, which obviously puts me in a better position financially) and I'm not familiar with the employment landscape up in Scotland, but two things occurred to me when I read the OP. Firstly, try and be creative in the search terms you use for jobs. Don't just search for specific roles like 'AP' or 'HCA'. Type the name of the local NHS trust into the jobs website, or the name of a particular client group, and look carefully through whatever's there. Next week I have an interview for a band 5 position with children who have been victims of rape, and even though it's pretty relevant to psychology it didn't have any of the keywords that people might normally look for. I only found it because I'd typed in 'paediatrics' plus my location, and sifted through the many entries returned by NHS Jobs. It's hard to know what other jobs might be suitable without more details of your previous field, but I am sure you have some transferrable skills. You could look for better-paid part-time work in a variety of unrelated areas (maybe three or four days a week) and use the free days for lower-paid clinical work or relevant volunteering. Finally, check your search terms when you look for RA posts. 'Research associate' positions tend to want PhD holders, 'research assistant' positions generally don't. (Related to that, if you think you would genuinely enjoy a PhD for its own sake, you wouldn't necessarily have to pay for it yourself - there are funded opportunities available. Jobs.ac.uk and university departmental websites are the places to look for those. However, only do it if you'd enjoy the experience of three or four years of intensive research - it's not worth it otherwise!)

Good luck with everything to you both. :)
"Suppose a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?"
"Suppose it didn't," said Pooh, after careful thought.
Piglet was comforted by this.
- A.A. Milne.

missmoo
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Re: Let's talk about money

Post by missmoo » Sat Jun 09, 2018 3:18 pm

Thanks, lingua_franca.

There are significant structural differences in health and social care here which really restrict the opportunities to work in posts that offer contact with CPs - I've worked full-time in this field for around 5 years with social workers, CPNs/ RMNs and psychiatrists but only met, in passing, two psychologists.

I honestly have already tried the advice that you and NotReally have given and much more. I've also combed through lots of Research Assistant posts at uni's here which expect that successful applicants will have started a PhD at least (I've not yet got a Masters in psychology). I would LOVE to do a PhD but the £14.5k per year stipend is a struggle-level of salary even for a single person who likes to eat and also sleep indoors :D. I'm working on building my academic network so I may hopefully get to hear about unadvertised posts that come up in future that would suit my level of qualification.

The point, more broadly, is that no other AHP professions seem to have the same barriers to access that clinical psychology has in terms of length of time to qualify, work experience required to get on training, and the expense of subsidising that low paid work. I was starting to think that I was just going about this the wrong way as the route to qualification seems, from the outside, bizarre. I've worked for organisations that charter people in professions where practitioners could seriously injure or kill scores of people if they get their work wrong yet their routes to chartered status are much simpler. I'm very aware we can't all have the job that we want but CP is not more 'special' than e.g. pharmacy or mental health nursing (though that's even more badly paid!) so why the many high hoops to jump through?

Thanks again for your advice. The discussion with you and NotReally has given me some inspiration to stop moaning and start asking questions of our membership body, the BPS, about why they don't do more to work with the relevant NHS bodies to simplify the route to qualification - there's plenty of other healthcare professions they could model a simplified route on. The current set up is really inefficient for would-be trainees and might well disqualify lower-income graduates from pursuing training.

And as for my previous field, I've tried but I'm now too old and out of touch to get back into that, despite someupskilling. I worked in marketing and, unfortunately, that's some dark side psychology :D .

missmoo
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Re: Let's talk about money

Post by missmoo » Sat Jun 09, 2018 3:42 pm

Sorry - good luck to you too, lingua_franca. Hope you're successful in your interview!

lingua_franca
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Re: Let's talk about money

Post by lingua_franca » Sat Jun 09, 2018 7:16 pm

If it's any comfort, there are people on this forum who have got onto training without ever having been supervised by a CP. They came out of the woodwork when I was worrying that I didn't have a CP to provide me with a reference, as all my clinical supervisors had been SaLTs or RMNs. So I think it's still doable (albeit more difficult) if you can demonstrate on the form that you have a realistic understanding of the profession.

I'm hazy on the history of CP in Britain, but my understanding is that at one time the training was set at MSc level. I don't know why the change occurred. I do wish that retraining in CP was more accessible to people who can't afford the pay cut that entry-level psychology jobs often require, but beyond better funding for tertiary education as a whole, I struggle to see the way forward. There are differences between CPs and other AHPs: most other AHPs start on band 5, for example, whereas a newly qualified CP works at band 7, with commensurate responsibilities. A nurse wouldn't get to that level without significant post-qualification experience and some further training. I could be wrong, but I also feel that some of the skills a CP needs simply take more time to acquire than the skills, say, a paramedic needs. This isn't to say that they're more important, only that they take longer to cultivate. I got interested in CP back in 2010, and it took me almost six years to feel that I was ready for the doctorate and would be a strong candidate if I applied. This was partly because of my own mental health (I have a history of anorexia and I needed to get healthy before I could consider training a helping profession myself) but also because there were some skills that I just couldn't fast-track. I spent a particularly pivotal year working in a CAMHS secure unit, and I don't think there would have been a way to expedite what I learnt in there - I was well versed in attachment theory, I'd read everyone from Melanie Klein to Dan Hughes, but there are certain things I only learnt through spending nine painstaking months trying to build rapport with a particular girl with severe attachment difficulties. By contrast, suturing a wound or inserting a cannula are things you can learn in a much shorter time frame.

In the end, the time I spent building up that hands-on experience as a support worker was hugely beneficial to me - it helped me to see that while I definitely want to work in mental health, perhaps CP is not the best fit for me. Long story short, I'm now on a different path (teaching and research, whilst working towards a clinical qualification in a profession that really values thinking time - the training moves at the rate of a stoned snail ;) ), and I'm glad I ended up here.

I hope you're able to find a way to manage the finances. I wonder if there are any Scottish trainees on here who could give you more specific advice?
"Suppose a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?"
"Suppose it didn't," said Pooh, after careful thought.
Piglet was comforted by this.
- A.A. Milne.

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Spatch
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Re: Let's talk about money

Post by Spatch » Sat Jun 09, 2018 9:23 pm

It's certainly a funny, convoluted route to CP qualification. I do think that, perhaps, NES and whatever the other UK equivalent bodes are ought to look jointly at a more straightforward pathway (maybe along the same lines as pharmacy, which has an equivalent NHS grade structure to CP) with a specific academic/ training route at undergrad and masters level for people who want to be chartered clinical psychologists. I don't know any other AHP profession that requires this palaver - the training is built into the degree.
The point, more broadly, is that no other AHP professions seem to have the same barriers to access that clinical psychology has in terms of length of time to qualify, work experience required to get on training, and the expense of subsidising that low paid work. I was starting to think that I was just going about this the wrong way as the route to qualification seems, from the outside, bizarre. I've worked for organisations that charter people in professions where practitioners could seriously injure or kill scores of people if they get their work wrong yet their routes to chartered status are much simpler. I'm very aware we can't all have the job that we want but CP is not more 'special' than e.g. pharmacy or mental health nursing (though that's even more badly paid!) so why the many high hoops to jump through?
There are several reasons why there can't be a straightforward access route like medicine or nursing.

First of all medical, dental and AHP professional vocational degrees are strictly restricted by workforce planning and heavily subsidised by the government (9k fees make up a fraction of the true cost) and the expectation is that everyone who is accepted onto those courses will work directly as pharmacists or medics. In contrast, Psychology at degree level is intentionally a non-vocational academic degree (like economics or history), and the expectation is that most will not be working within psychology. If you think about it closely to shift from this model would cause several problems. Firstly, if you were to make it entirely vocational, you would have to radically downshift the number of undergraduate psychology seats to about 1500 or so a year if you were to combine all clinical, counselling, health and forensic places (compared to the 10,000 undergraduates that enroll a year and increasing). Then you would have to get people to lock into a path very early, to account for planning and funding, so if you start on the clinical path at 18 but realise you want to do forensic then it would be tough to shift much in the same way medicine and nursing would be. We would also have to throw everyone else that may be interested in studying psychology but not beyond degree level, under a bus to do so.

So why can't there be more places like Hull or York, that allow undergrad to DClinpsy routes? Funding again as well as number of available supervisors, but also note those are not automatic entry and there is a competitive process in those places there too for limited places. Btw, the BPS would be the first to object, as their stance is not to favour pratitioner psychologists or advocate for them, but keep psychology as broad as possible to as many people as possible. They have already created a lot of issues for practitioner psychologists ranging from protected titles to the split between academics and practitioners (which is documented elsewhere at great length).

The other thing to consider with medicine, pharmacy, OT and other professions is the qualification level involved. Most Health Professions are typically pegged at the QCA level of 6 (indicating bachelors honours degree as in nursing) or 7 (Masters, dentistry or medical degrees). Level 8 qualifications such as Clinical Psychology (and the other doctoral psychologist routes) along with PhDs and other professional doctorates like EngDs, are never first entry qualifications for any field and probably never will be by their very nature. This does make it hard for us trying to navigate the system, but I wonder if it changed would things be any better under the model similar to pharmacy or nursing? I suspect undergraduate psychology would quickly go from being one of the widest studied subjects to being worse than Oxbridge to get into.
Shameless plug alert:

Irrelevant Experience: The Secret Diary of an Assistant Psychologist is available at Amazon
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Irrelevant-Expe ... 00EQFE5JW/

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Spatch
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Re: Let's talk about money

Post by Spatch » Sat Jun 09, 2018 9:37 pm

I'm hazy on the history of CP in Britain, but my understanding is that at one time the training was set at MSc level. I don't know why the change occurred.
I would recommend the book Clincal Psychology in Britain a Historical Perspective by John Hall, which goes into the backstory and complex history of how the profession originally developed and how we moved in 1993 from MSc level in house training to doctoral level training. It basically boils down to the increasing need for more psychologists to be trained (which couldn't be done in house within departments on a consistent basis), increased professionalisation and a need for standardisation but there is a lot more to the story.
Shameless plug alert:

Irrelevant Experience: The Secret Diary of an Assistant Psychologist is available at Amazon
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Irrelevant-Expe ... 00EQFE5JW/

missmoo
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Re: Let's talk about money

Post by missmoo » Sat Jun 09, 2018 11:41 pm

Thanks for the insight, Spatch. I'll certainly have a look into the texts you recommended and perhaps it will make more sense.

CEng in civil engineering is the chartership route that I'm aware of, where there's several routes to qualification and a doctorate or even masters level study is not required. Heck, you can qualify as a technician without a degree. It's still a closed shop for safety's sake.

Although we can all agree that more access to psychological therapies would be a good thing, in my experience up here, they're not being delivered by psychologists. Nurse practitioners and psychiatrists are more likely to be assessing and offering psychological therapies than a CP (with the bonus that they can prescribe) with other AHPs doing e.g. ASD assessment. Unless something changes with the cost of training and employing psychologists perhaps in Scotland we'll go the way of the guy who used to apply the leeches 😂

missmoo
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Re: Let's talk about money

Post by missmoo » Sun Jun 10, 2018 10:35 am

Thanks lingua_franca. I'm glad you found the right path for your career and your wellbeing. I got into psychology to support my kids' wellbeing and, based on that experience, a desire that there should be better access to mental health care. I come and go on whether it's worth it. I would love to work as a CP but I also think (whisper it) *psychology's not more special than other clinical disciplines* :D

All the best for your future.

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PolkaDot
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Re: Let's talk about money

Post by PolkaDot » Sun Jun 10, 2018 1:03 pm

I see you are in Scotland and there are 2 fully funded and salaried masters courses relevant to CP: MSc Psychological Therapy in Primary Care and MSc Children and Young People.

I completed the former. Fees are paid by NES and you are paid a Band 6 salary for the duration of the course. You are then qualified as a Clinical Associate in Applied Psychology (CAAP) so can apply for Band 7 CAAP jobs. These are scarce so you can also apply for therapist roles at band 6 or in the private sector.

Once qualified I worked as a CBT Therapist for a private company then as a Mental Health Therapist for the NHS at band 6. It’s not meant to be used as a stepping stone to CP and the CAAP role is a career in itself but many find it helps towards CP, including myself as I got a place on training this year. I have a son and managed to save up to buy my own house during the course and my partner doesn’t earn loads either. So definitely manageable from my perspective!

Edit: forgot to say that it doesn’t matter if you have an MSc already to be eligible for those courses. Many people in my cohort had prior masters. Also both courses are like CP courses in that you’re employed by NHS boards that you pick and only need to go to the university based for teaching now and again (3-4 days for me at the end of each month with travel and hotel subsidised, and working as an employed trainee caap with my local healthboard).

missmoo
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Re: Let's talk about money

Post by missmoo » Sun Jun 10, 2018 2:18 pm

Many thanks for the tip, PolkaDot. I've had a look at those but thought that, as they were based in either Edinburgh and Dundee, they'd be too far away. I wasn't aware that you could choose to work for a board closer to home. I also didn't know that the qualification could be used as a stepping stone to CP - I thought that was a real no no - so thanks for the info! All the best for your CP training.

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