MedSci degree used for psychology? (help pls)

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Lainathiel
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#1
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#1
Hola,

I just wanted some advice as the research I'm doing is infuriatingly confusing at the moment and I'm struggling to find the answers to my questions! Basically, I'm in my first year of pre-clinical medicine at Oxford but I'm finding (if I'm honest, have probably found over the past year or so) that I'm losing interest in the idea of continuing to train in hospital-based specialties etc, both in terms of the working conditions and subjects that i'm interested in pursuing. However, the medical sciences degree itself (the first three years) I do enjoy, and I've been looking into working as some kind of clinical psychologist - both the subject and the working conditions sounds like something I'd be much more interested in. I know that (as people I know from Ox have been in very similar situations) I can leave the course after three years to take a degree in medical sciences but not begin the clinical component - I was wondering if I would be able to use this degree to get onto grad courses for psychology? Or similarly, which would be the best way to go about getting into this specialty, but still enabling me to finish my pre-clinical med course?

Sorry for the confusing post!
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prospectivemed56
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#2
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#2
(Original post by Lainathiel)
Hola,

I just wanted some advice as the research I'm doing is infuriatingly confusing at the moment and I'm struggling to find the answers to my questions! Basically, I'm in my first year of pre-clinical medicine at Oxford but I'm finding (if I'm honest, have probably found over the past year or so) that I'm losing interest in the idea of continuing to train in hospital-based specialties etc, both in terms of the working conditions and subjects that i'm interested in pursuing. However, the medical sciences degree itself (the first three years) I do enjoy, and I've been looking into working as some kind of clinical psychologist - both the subject and the working conditions sounds like something I'd be much more interested in. I know that (as people I know from Ox have been in very similar situations) I can leave the course after three years to take a degree in medical sciences but not begin the clinical component - I was wondering if I would be able to use this degree to get onto grad courses for psychology? Or similarly, which would be the best way to go about getting into this specialty, but still enabling me to finish my pre-clinical med course?

Sorry for the confusing post!
To to practice as a clinical psychologist within the NHS (rather than as a psychology researcher/psychotherapist/counsellor/etc) you'll need an MA conversion course to psychology in addition to your medical sciences degree. Then you need to get a place on a clinical psychology PhD programme, which is very competitive! Sort of like applying to medicine all over again - you need to have relevant work experience, references, and so on. Once you're on, it's funded, and you're pretty much set up for a career as a clinical psychologist. However, you're looking at 1 year for the conversion course/work experience plus 3 years for the PhD, compared with 4 years to get through undergraduate clinical training and the foundation programme before starting core training in psychiatry if you were that way inclined.

If you were more interested in the research side of things rather than clinical practice then you could probably go straight into a research MSc or research PhD/DPhil in psychology based on your medical science degree.
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MonteCristo
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#3
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#3
I don't know much about life or training as a clinical psychologist but have you completely forsaken psychiatry as a career route? Medicine is a broad church and doesn't have to mean a career of sterile clinic rooms and ward rounds.

If you are that way inclined, psychiatrists get to work at that fascinating interface between biology, psychology, philosophy, and the social world. It sounds as if you have a few years to decide anyway and would probably benefit from seeking out some relevant work experience. At some point an interviewer for a clinical psychology programme is going to ask you "why not psychiatry?" and you will want a convincing answer.

In any event, there are lots of clinical psychologists and psychiatrists working within the Department of Psychiatry at Oxford. Why not ask someone there whether you can chat to them about career options and/or spend some time in various different mental health settings during your pre-clinical years? You might also want to speak to someone in the Oxford Institute for Clinical Psychology Training, which runs a DClinPsych programme.
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spacepirate-James
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#4
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#4
I second the thoughts about psychiatry. I've heard, from both psychiatrists and clinical psychologists alike, that if at the end of the day what you want to do is work in mental health in a clinical or social capacity then it is far 'easier' to go down the route of becoming a psychiatrist once you are in medicine. It may sound barmy but it's because clinical psychology is just so competitive compared to psychiatry which is comparatively very under-subscribed. There's a lot more uncertainty with a career in psychology compared to the more straight-forward, rote-progression of a career in medicine. Equally in psychiatry there is the option of psychotherapy sub-specialty training which is very popular with trainees, whilst in other sub-specialties such as child and adolescent psychiatry a lot of the training will involve psychotherapy anyway. I have worked with consultant psychiatrists who spends all of their time in specialised psychotherapy centres, trained and delivering various psychotherapeutic techniques (with the bonus of being also able to deal with medication and other health complaints).

On a more general level I think psychiatry right now has a very strong support mechanism in place for trainees, which will only grow in the near future - not to mention generally pretty good lifestyle (9-5ish). I think as a specialty it provides broad, flexible and varied opportunities for further education as well as in research. I also think there's more funding, and certainly less competition for funding, in psychiatry as opposed to psychology. I'm currently doing a MSc in an area of mental health which is very non-medical (no genetics, no neuroscience, no drugs, no scans etc) and focused more on sociology; I am discovering that there's a great deal of support for that kind of atypical focus in psychiatry. Nevertheless I am still really thankful that I do have my pre-clinical and clinical training underneath my belt, and that I can draw upon those skills when I need to. And although people might not like to admit it, in some mental health 'circles' being an actual medical doctor still carries a bit of weight around and gets you noticed more compared to non-psychiatrists.

Of course you will have to finish medical school and do two years of foundation training but if you are willing to suffer through, then there's a lot you can do to incorporate mental health in your education. Choose mental health SSCs, do mental health research, make best use of your psych placement, try and find the 'mental health' in your other placements (GP, paeds, O&G etc), choose a psych placement for Foundation years, do another psych block as an academic research placement etc.
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nexttime
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#5
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#5
Buenos dias.

Some excellent replies above.

All I can add:

1) I'm sure you're aware but just to re-emphasise: clinical psychology is seriously competitive. I was talking to some and they reckoned that virtually everyone now has a year at least of working as a 'psychology assistant' (i forget the exact term) before applying. I'm not sure that you can just rely on your academic success to push you through - certainly worth checking because that could be extra years of your life consumed doing what it quite a menial, low paid job. Relatively speaking.
Comparatively: psychiatry is the least competitive speciality and is, frankly, a very easy job (compared to any other speciality).

2) How come you don't like medicine any more? You Haven't experienced much of hospital medicine right? Not to mention that not all specialities are in hospital (if you can put up with foundation years).
An option for you would be to complete 4th year as well then see how you feel. I and many others found 4th year very eye opening and in most cases it re-invigorated people's ideas of why they wanted to be a doctor. Its a fun year - i even liked labmed. The downside of this approach is that it would take your 4th year of student loans funding so if you did want to go back for a psychology masters you'd then have to pay the £9300 or so (unless it came under NHS funding, but i don't think so).
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prospectivemed56
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#6
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#6
(Original post by nexttime)
Buenos dias.
The downside of this approach is that it would take your 4th year of student loans funding so if you did want to go back for a psychology masters you'd then have to pay the £9300 or so (unless it came under NHS funding, but i don't think so).
My understanding of the funding situation for the MA (my partner was looking to enter clinical psychology, although from a non-medic, non-psychology background) is that you can use the new government £10k postgraduate loan towards it - it's not affected by your undergraduate funding at all. Unfortunately you repay the postgrad loan at 9% on top of your undergraduate loans (so you're repaying 18% of your income over £20,000, not 9%!), and you don't get any maintenance funding during the MA. Once you're on a clinical PhD programme, it's 100% NHS funded and I believe you start on a salary of £26,000 a year during the PhD, which is why it's so ferociously competitive to get a place.
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nexttime
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#7
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#7
(Original post by prospectivemed56)
you start on a salary of £26,000 a year during the PhD,
That's loads for a PhD! Not to mention more than a first year doctor.
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Shaaayxp
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#8
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#8
(Original post by nexttime)
That's loads for a PhD! Not to mention more than a first year doctor.
I think it's a doctorate. Unless that's the same thing as a PhD then ignore me
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prospectivemed56
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#9
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#9
(Original post by Shaaayxp)
I think it's a doctorate. Unless that's the same thing as a PhD then ignore me
You're right that it's a doctorate (so DClinPsy rather than PhD, sorry for being lazy in my terminology ). You get paid as a Band 6, which is actually serious money! But even psychology graduates often need to have worked for several years as the mental health equivalent of a HCA to get a hope of a place, which is what put the other half off.
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RJParker
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There are many DClinPsy programmes which do not place value on 'clinical' experience or other postgraduate qualifications. Several base their application process on potential within the profession rather than the number of years in jobs to which continued access is constrained by financial considerations.

I'd suggest anyone interested in a DClinPsy look at the different programmes such as Lancaster and Plymouth and the criteria they use to select trainees before accepting the need to seek many years of clinical experience or going after another postgraduate qualification.

(Original post by prospectivemed56)
You're right that it's a doctorate (so DClinPsy rather than PhD, sorry for being lazy in my terminology ). You get paid as a Band 6, which is actually serious money! But even psychology graduates often need to have worked for several years as the mental health equivalent of a HCA to get a hope of a place, which is what put the other half off.
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PoolR
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#11
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#11
(Original post by spacepirate-James)
I second the thoughts about psychiatry. I've heard, from both psychiatrists and clinical psychologists alike, that if at the end of the day what you want to do is work in mental health in a clinical or social capacity then it is far 'easier' to go down the route of becoming a psychiatrist once you are in medicine. It may sound barmy but it's because clinical psychology is just so competitive compared to psychiatry which is comparatively very under-subscribed. There's a lot more uncertainty with a career in psychology compared to the more straight-forward, rote-progression of a career in medicine. Equally in psychiatry there is the option of psychotherapy sub-specialty training which is very popular with trainees, whilst in other sub-specialties such as child and adolescent psychiatry a lot of the training will involve psychotherapy anyway. I have worked with consultant psychiatrists who spends all of their time in specialised psychotherapy centres, trained and delivering various psychotherapeutic techniques (with the bonus of being also able to deal with medication and other health complaints).

On a more general level I think psychiatry right now has a very strong support mechanism in place for trainees, which will only grow in the near future - not to mention generally pretty good lifestyle (9-5ish). I think as a specialty it provides broad, flexible and varied opportunities for further education as well as in research. I also think there's more funding, and certainly less competition for funding, in psychiatry as opposed to psychology. I'm currently doing a MSc in an area of mental health which is very non-medical (no genetics, no neuroscience, no drugs, no scans etc) and focused more on sociology; I am discovering that there's a great deal of support for that kind of atypical focus in psychiatry. Nevertheless I am still really thankful that I do have my pre-clinical and clinical training underneath my belt, and that I can draw upon those skills when I need to. And although people might not like to admit it, in some mental health 'circles' being an actual medical doctor still carries a bit of weight around and gets you noticed more compared to non-psychiatrists.

Of course you will have to finish medical school and do two years of foundation training but if you are willing to suffer through, then there's a lot you can do to incorporate mental health in your education. Choose mental health SSCs, do mental health research, make best use of your psych placement, try and find the 'mental health' in your other placements (GP, paeds, O&G etc), choose a psych placement for Foundation years, do another psych block as an academic research placement etc.
Any chance you could expand on the hours and also your " general " days? As in what you tend to get up to? There's not much out there in terms of info, I've read through the NHS "typical working day" stuff already.
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prospectivemed56
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#12
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#12
(Original post by RJParker)
There are many DClinPsy programmes which do not place value on 'clinical' experience or other postgraduate qualifications. Several base their application process on potential within the profession rather than the number of years in jobs to which continued access is constrained by financial considerations.
Both Plymouth and Lancaster seem to require applicants to hold chartered basis with the BPS (ie, for those of us without psychology degrees, to have done further postgrad qualifications such as the conversion course MA). Are you saying that medical graduates would be able to avoid this requirement and enter directly without doing the extra master's?
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RJParker
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#13
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No - you'll need eligibility for GBC. However, you don't need to have worked for years in an AP role.
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