Advice on someone with no clinical experience!

The place to ask about degree courses, conversion courses, masters, PhD or other qualifications. Discuss specific courses, their pros and cons, the content, the application process, different institutions, how to fund them, etc. Includes advice if you have a 2:2 and questions on transcripts
Mudisco
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Advice on someone with no clinical experience!

Post by Mudisco » Wed Nov 06, 2013 8:18 am

Hello,

As the topic states, I have zero clinical experience. I have been applying for support/personal assistant jobs working with people with learning disabilities or special needs. I have a pre-NVQ2 already in working with vulnerable adults, and in health and social care. I plan to start doing the Samaritans next year Jan. Am I on the right track?

Also, for clinical experience, I plan to go to Nigeria for 1-2 years (with holidays to England) to get experience being supervised by Clinical Psychologists and working alongside Psychiatrists. I plan to do that so that when I come back, I can have more chance in getting RA/AP Posts. Would international clinical experience be seen as inferior to UK clinical experience when I apply for the doctorate?

Thanks!
Last edited by Mudisco on Wed Nov 06, 2013 10:54 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Geishawife
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Re: Advice on someone with no clinical experience!

Post by Geishawife » Wed Nov 06, 2013 10:05 am

Could you tell us a little bit more about your qualifications? You mentioned the NVQ, but what other qualifications do you have? Do you have a psychology degree or conversion? That might sound like a silly question, but I have had people ask about doing clinical who do not even realise you need this as an absolute minimum starting point! It is very important you check and double check that the qualifications you have are appropriate for the jobs you apply for.

Volunteering for something like Samaritans is always a useful starting point for experience (as well as being very valuable work in and of itself) so I think it would be very good experience. You might also consider looking at volunteering with other organisations, even if only briefly, to give you exposure to different client groups and give you something to reflect on when you apply for jobs. As far as working in Nigeria is concerned, whilst it would be interesting, I think you will have to be very careful how you describe that experience and make it sound applicable to working in the NHS as the health systems are very different. You will have to think very hard about how you portray what you have learnt from that experience. If I'm honest, if your plan is to train here, I would say you'd probably be better plugging away at getting jobs here. That is hard, I know, but so long as you have the relevant qualifications and keep doing what you are doing something usually comes along!

I'm not quite sure what you mean by this:
Mudisco wrote:Would clinical experience be discriminated against when I apply for the doctorate?
. Having no clinical experience, or no research experience that is clinically relevant, will almost certainly mean you will not get on to a clinical course. The successful applicants have either worked in clinically relevant jobs (not always as APs, I hasten to add!) or have research experience with clinically relevant populations. Without one or other of these it is highly unlikely your application will be considered.

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Re: Advice on someone with no clinical experience!

Post by Mudisco » Wed Nov 06, 2013 11:00 am

Geishawife wrote:Could you tell us a little bit more about your qualifications? You mentioned the NVQ, but what other qualifications do you have? Do you have a psychology degree or conversion? That might sound like a silly question, but I have had people ask about doing clinical who do not even realise you need this as an absolute minimum starting point! It is very important you check and double check that the qualifications you have are appropriate for the jobs you apply for.

I'm not quite sure what you mean by this:
Mudisco wrote:Would clinical experience be discriminated against when I apply for the doctorate?
. Having no clinical experience, or no research experience that is clinically relevant, will almost certainly mean you will not get on to a clinical course. The successful applicants have either worked in clinically relevant jobs (not always as APs, I has;ten to add!) or have research experience with clinically relevant populations. Without one or other of these it is highly unlikely your application will be considered.
Well I got a 2:2 undergrad and a Pass in a conversion psychology MSc. I'm doing another Masters called Mental Health Service and Population Research in KCL but it is part-time.

I meant that whether international clinical experience would be really seen as inferior or irrelevant compared to UK clinical experience.

I mean, I'm not in the best position but I plan to make the four years that I have till I plan to the doctorate worthwhile.

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enid
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Re: Advice on someone with no clinical experience!

Post by enid » Wed Nov 06, 2013 1:39 pm

I am no expert but i would have thought UK experience and particularly NHS experience, would be the best bet. as I also advice most people (;)), really make the most of the masters, and get the best mark you possibly can. i would say a distinction would be what you should aim for. it is so competitive now, and there are only a few universities that accept people who have a 2:2, and would expect a good mark at post-grad to compensate for a 2:2.
i was an an iop talk yesterday and they said that things like samaritans would NOT count towards the one year clinical exp you need to be able to apply for training. they said it is good for development, but would not count towards relevant experience. that said, it could be a good way to get experience to be able to apply for an assistant psych (or similar) job, which would count towards relevant experience.

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Re: Advice on someone with no clinical experience!

Post by miriam » Wed Nov 06, 2013 1:54 pm

A 2:2 and a pass at your conversion (unless it was pass/fail and you can show a very high mark within the pass category) is going to mean most doors are shut for clinical, so this is the number one place to target your efforts. You will also need to get experience, preferably in the UK. But before you start, I'd suggest you look up the places that will take applications from people with a 2:2 (even with a masters) as this will be highly limited.

But lets unpick this a little, as I'm genuinely curious - why have you decided to set your heart on clinical psychology rather than a related profession which is less competitive or without doctoral level training? And why keep paying and doing more courses? Is there a reason that you think the two courses you have done so far do not show your academic potential?

It just seems a bit masochistic to not only decide on a highly competitive career path, but to do so starting from a baseline that puts you at a disadvantage compared to other applicants. Finally, having a plan now of applying in 4 years time seems a bit weird. You'd be fine to apply in 2 years time if you got a better grade in your new MSc and some experience or no better off in 4 years time if you don't. Meanwhile you could be fully qualified in another career path by then!
Miriam

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Re: Advice on someone with no clinical experience!

Post by Mudisco » Wed Nov 06, 2013 3:37 pm

miriam wrote:A 2:2 and a pass at your conversion (unless it was pass/fail and you can show a very high mark within the pass category) is going to mean most doors are shut for clinical, so this is the number one place to target your efforts. You will also need to get experience, preferably in the UK. But before you start, I'd suggest you look up the places that will take applications from people with a 2:2 (even with a masters) as this will be highly limited.

But lets unpick this a little, as I'm genuinely curious - why have you decided to set your heart on clinical psychology rather than a related profession which is less competitive or without doctoral level training? And why keep paying and doing more courses? Is there a reason that you think the two courses you have done so far do not show your academic potential?

It just seems a bit masochistic to not only decide on a highly competitive career path, but to do so starting from a baseline that puts you at a disadvantage compared to other applicants. Finally, having a plan now of applying in 4 years time seems a bit weird. You'd be fine to apply in 2 years time if you got a better grade in your new MSc and some experience or no better off in 4 years time if you don't. Meanwhile you could be fully qualified in another career path by then!
I understand that I'm at a mass disadvantage, and I expected this kind of response. My question is, is there "hope" for someone in my position? I know that it would be a lot harder but I believe there is hope and I can't give up now. I went to the IOP myself yesterday and I was almost in tears. I have started this second MSc, so I am going to reach my goal. I understand that two years is sufficient, but with someone in my position, I believe that I would need more time to get sufficient clinical experience to have a chance to enter the doctoral program.

Those grades do not in anyway demonstrate my academic ability as some personal problems kinda interfered but I won't know till I try right? If I'm unsuccessful, I'm unsuccessful...

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Re: Advice on someone with no clinical experience!

Post by enid » Wed Nov 06, 2013 6:13 pm

I would just concentrate on your MSc for now. I keep advising people this. Distracting yourself with thoughts such as what you are currently having will not allow you to truly immerse yourself in the MSc, and this is what you need to do to get a distinction. With a 2:2 degree I think you need a distinction at MSc level and/or a PhD, so until you get that I would stop thinking about it. Perhaps work with the MSc in terms of boosting your application, such as publishing your thesis if you can. To do this you need to work really hard at planning a good and feasible thesis, which addresses a gap in the current research field. Both my MScs opened a number of doors for me. You can then go from there, in terms of getting relevant experience...trying to do both might lessen the chances of distinction for the MSc.

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Re: Advice on someone with no clinical experience!

Post by Borrowed Cone » Wed Nov 06, 2013 9:20 pm

I would agree with others that you need to focus on your academic achievement. With a 2:2, you are most likely going to need to pass your second masters degree with distinction in order to be considered against the competition. I would also advise you to do a clinically relevant project for your thesis. If it is possible to find a clinical psychologist to supervise you, do that too. It will help if you can get an excellent academic reference from your project supervisor too, to demonstrate you would be able to work at doctoral level.

Once you've done that, try and gain some more relevant work experience and go from there!

Good luck.

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Re: Advice on someone with no clinical experience!

Post by miriam » Wed Nov 06, 2013 10:41 pm

You still haven't explained this:
miriam wrote:I'm genuinely curious - why have you decided to set your heart on clinical psychology rather than a related profession which is less competitive or without doctoral level training? And why keep paying and doing more courses? Is there a reason that you think the two courses you have done so far do not show your academic potential?
The key question is what motivates you, and makes you think this is the one thing that you want to do with your life, and whether it is worth the 4 year slog you are planning compared to any other option? Why is clinical the be all and end all? Why is it this or nothing with a sense you "can't give up"? Why are there no other ideas on your horizon?

I mean I'm a CP, I've been qualified for 13 years, consultant grade for 5.5, I run a service and employ a team of staff and I'm still considering my plan B and plan C and plan D and weighing up the pros and cons of each, and its something I'd advise everyone to do to keep this job in perspective. Today I was pondering about property development, and over the last week I've thought about writing books (novels as well as non-fiction), getting involved in one of the clinical training courses, moving into commissioning/management and bidding to run an NHS service.
Miriam

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Re: Advice on someone with no clinical experience!

Post by sarahg » Thu Nov 07, 2013 1:06 am

Firstly welcome to the forum :)

Secondly, this forum is (I thought) about providing support and guidance to those who wish to pursue a career in clinical psychology. Unfortunately in this circumstance I feel Miriam isn't being as supportive as she usually is (actually a tinsy bit rude- in which I'm sure everyone will now 'gasp' at me saying this 'out-loud' about the forum owner (who actually in my eyes is a fantastic and dedicated person for providing this forum, anyways...)

I believe the advice given to you on the rest of this thread is suitable, if you read the rest of the forum you will notice that having a 2:2 isn't the end of a future clinical psychology career, but it certainly limits your chances - and academic ability appears to be part of the first bottle-neck process into clinical training. So yes, focus increasing your academic status first, you need to highlight that you will be able to work to a doctorate standard. Then focus on gaining relevant experience.

It's always good to have plan B, C, D etc with regards to future careers (for any career, not just clinical). So again browse this forum for clinically related careers that you may perhaps be interested :)

Finally - good luck!

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Re: Advice on someone with no clinical experience!

Post by miriam » Thu Nov 07, 2013 2:14 am

I don't believe in blind encouragement. It might feel very supportive and nice for you to all say "come on, you can do it" to everyone all the time, but the truth is not everyone can do everything that they would like to. We all need to be realistic about what is possible and set aims that challenge us but importantly also aims we can accomplish. I'm never going to be a size 10, but with a bit of hard work I can get to the point of being fit and healthy. I wish someone had told me 20 years ago "don't feel pressured by everyone else's ideas about losing weight, that's a negative goal; focus on what you can do and how you feel. You aren't built to be thin but you can be strong and healthy" because now I've had that mind-shift I'm really enjoying exercise for the first time.

Plenty of people want to be CPs but end up doing other things (and often being darn good at them, and finding them very satisfying). What you see as 'rude' is a question every one of us on here should be able to answer, and a question that will probably be asked at every interview along the career path. Despite the discomfort some people feel about 'not being supportive' considering other options and the realism of your aspirations could save someone years of slog towards a career that isn't what they had imagined, or isn't something they can attain. If I don't know why someone is passionate about CP and only CP, and whether their aspirations are realistic (in this case, despite a lack of the essential components to date) I can't give fully informed advice about the right steps forward.
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Re: Advice on someone with no clinical experience!

Post by Spatch » Thu Nov 07, 2013 10:22 am

Secondly, this forum is (I thought) about providing support and guidance to those who wish to pursue a career in clinical psychology. Unfortunately in this circumstance I feel Miriam isn't being as supportive as she usually is (actually a tinsy bit rude- in which I'm sure everyone will now 'gasp' at me saying this 'out-loud' about the forum owner
Could it be possible that being "a bit rude" couldn also be supportive in its own way? I know that often reality checks are percieved as challenging, yet can often get the person to consider their weaknesses and the challenges ahead? While I agree that Miriam may not be particularly validating in this instance, she does ask several questions that the OP does need to know.

I have noticed that there is a tendency for higher levels of scepticism in the qualifieds/trainees, and higher levels of optimism and unconditional support from those starting out on the track. I don't think either are necessarily "right", as the first group often focus on the larger numbers that come through the system (all too aware of the reality that most don't get a place), and the latter group need to keep that hope alive for protective reasons (plus the reality that some do in fact make it, and it could be them). I have come to regard many of these posts are the philosophical equivalent of "Which babies will turn out well?". You may have an idea from family, environment etc, but no one can be certain. You may call the odds but until the event occurs no one can really know (Not great in this case, but it is just that an opinion and it may be wrong. Rude as that may be, opinion is what the OP is asking for).

Ultimately it will boil down to whether the OP brings something to the profession that the person above and below them in the list doesn't and none of us can really know that at this stage. However, it is probably a good thing to consider before investing a huge amount of time, emotional effort and financial resources.
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Re: Advice on someone with no clinical experience!

Post by Mudisco » Thu Nov 07, 2013 11:42 am

miriam wrote:I don't believe in blind encouragement. It might feel very supportive and nice for you to all say "come on, you can do it" to everyone all the time, but the truth is not everyone can do everything that they would like to. We all need to be realistic about what is possible and set aims that challenge us but importantly also aims we can accomplish. I'm never going to be a size 10, but with a bit of hard work I can get to the point of being fit and healthy. I wish someone had told me 20 years ago "don't feel pressured by everyone else's ideas about losing weight, that's a negative goal; focus on what you can do and how you feel. You aren't built to be thin but you can be strong and healthy" because now I've had that mind-shift I'm really enjoying exercise for the first time.

Plenty of people want to be CPs but end up doing other things (and often being darn good at them, and finding them very satisfying). What you see as 'rude' is a question every one of us on here should be able to answer, and a question that will probably be asked at every interview along the career path. Despite the discomfort some people feel about 'not being supportive' considering other options and the realism of your aspirations could save someone years of slog towards a career that isn't what they had imagined, or isn't something they can attain. If I don't know why someone is passionate about CP and only CP, and whether their aspirations are realistic (in this case, despite a lack of the essential components to date) I can't give fully informed advice about the right steps forward.
It seems that you are implying that there is no way that I would get in (hence the weight analogy) and I should give up. I have other aspirations like being a fiction writer/novelist and a lecturer of some sort. But this CP is first and I can't give up partly because I put my parents through hell and really convinced them on me pursuing the career option (which they aren't too keen on) and it would be a slap to their faces if I decide to "give up". I know the odds are really against me, but I'll take the advice and focus on this Masters, then get relevant experience. If I am unsuccessful, then I know that I tried and that it wasn't for me. Thanks though

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Re: Advice on someone with no clinical experience!

Post by miriam » Thu Nov 07, 2013 12:12 pm

I'm not implying there is no way you will get in and you should give up (notice that you are using all or nothing phrasing again). I'm saying, quite transparently and with no hidden meaning, that you need to think with realism about why you have chosen this path and whether it is worth the slog compared to many other similar and equally valid professions.
Miriam

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Re: Advice on someone with no clinical experience!

Post by lozzyhickers » Thu Nov 07, 2013 2:15 pm

I have to admit I'm with Mariam on this one. It's important to have back up plans I believe for two reasons. 1) So you don't loose perspective of your goals and 2) Should you need it, there is something there, so you don't spend your whole life chasing a dream, that for some, is not a viable option.

I'm not saying you should give up, but I believe it's important to have other options, and there are options similar to CP that don't involve doctoral training. I aim to be a CP, and at the moment it is my clear goal, but the thing I need to learn, as do you, is when it's time to consider the other options more seriously and go for something else. Otherwise we may find ourselves trying for the rest of our lives. It's not 'giving up' it's an alternative.

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