Little did I know
I once thought that once I completed my theoretical year in clinical psychology crammed full of subjects, assignments, and examinations my life would be infinitely better as the second clinical year would “just be about work and reports right?!”
HAH little, naïve, innocent me.
Fast forward into the clinical year*, and I present to you…my life (or lack of?) as it is. This is the typical day in the life of a clinical psychology trainee.
More articles on being a clinical psychology trainee:
- What is a clinical psychology trainee
- Supervisory relationship of a clinical psychology trainee
- Managing time as a clinical psychology trainee
- Lessons from the life of a clinical psychology trainee
My daily schedule
6.30AM — Up and running! The only quiet time I can manage before the hectic day.
7AM — Breakfast, wash up
8AM — Drive to the hospital
8.30AM — Prepping for cases, last minute printing of reports and therapy materials
9AM — Day starts. Patients come in for hour-long interventions or psychological evaluations that may take place for hours.
12.30PM — If you’re lucky, you get a quick bite of lunch
2PM — Second patient rush for the day. Repeat.
5PM — Rush paperwork, research-related stuff, call patients (if needed)
6PM — Day ends
First and foremost, my main goal during the clinical psychology placement will be to collect direct contact patient hours. It helps me qualify for my program graduation terms as well as MSCP* membership as a clinical psychologist. For your knowledge, the hours required for now (no announced changes as of yet) is 1,500 during the Master’s program. The great thing about placements in hospital settings is that there is an endless stream of patients. The worst thing about placements in hospital settings is that there is an endless stream of patients…Hence, you end up with so little time to complete paperwork that your weekends are essentially gone. This explains the structure of my day as a clinical psychology trainee being what it is.
Secondly, there is also a mini-thesis that every clinical psychology graduate has to complete. Woe to those who staked their research on interventions! Other than supervisor scouting, ethics submission, proposal defense, and drafting questionnaires, you also need to liaise with sometimes resistant participants, manage their schedules, beg for the completion of baseline assessments, and ensure that they commit to the intervention. On top of that, all these occur before the data validation and interpretation that precedes your thesis writing. Woohoo! Guess how I came to the detailed knowledge regarding the problems of intervention research…
Thirdly, to deliver evidence-based interventions for patients I will need to be up to date on current research and literature in regards to the type of disorder my patients have. To summarize, it means being a library regular and getting called “nerd” by friends because all you do is read, read, and research. CBT* for depression? ACT* for anxiety? BPT* for behavioral issues? Sure, let me get familiarized with it…within one week.
Question & Answer
What is the survival rate like?
As of now, it remains at 100%. Of course, I’m only referring to the fact that your body made it through the year. In terms of mental wellbeing…I’m not too sure.
How do you make it through?
Well, I may have exaggerated a tad. It does get easier once you get the hang of things and information internalized will not need to be learned again for the next patient you see. Great time management, crucial support from friends, and a nothing-can-get-me-down attitude helps!
Do you even enjoy what you do?
YES! I love patient contact and it drives me to greater heights in reaching out and serving them. (ignore the ranting above, it came from a place of extreme stress)
*clinical year: For the Masters in Clinical Psychology program, it is generally one year of studies followed by one year of clinical placement. For my university program, we are required to undergo one child placement and one adult placement, each 6 months long.
*MSCP: Malaysian Society of Clinical Psychology
*CBT: Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy
*ACT: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
*BPT: Behavioral Parent Training