The exploited pre-qualified dogsbody thread

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The exploited pre-qualified dogsbody thread

Post by marmalade » Wed Sep 09, 2009 11:35 am

A bit of light-hearted relief from the doom and gloom of 'will I ever get anywhere?' and copious job rejections.

I am currently coming to terms with the fact that I too was an abused and mistreated voluntary assistant psychologist. It will probably be a few years of therapy before I fully get over the trauma and regain full self-esteem, but in the mean-time I thought I'd share some of the worst parts of my 'work experience'.

-No contract. Supposedly HR were sorting it out, but it never appeared.

-No patient contact. Absolutely none. I was told I'd get the opportunity to do some shadowing and sit in on some patient sessions, but no, that never happened.

-No supervision from the clinical psychologist. I did ask, but she said it was better for the assistant to supervise me instead. This 'supervision' was more of a chat over tea in the morning of 'what the hell am I going to do today?'.

-I did a large amount of audit data collection independently. This in itself was not bad at all, though did involve a hell of a lot of time sitting at a desk repeatedly calling and emailing people who would never respond. However, when I left there was no plan for how my research would be carried on, or how the information I collected would be used. So all that work may have been for ....nothing. I didn't have time to write it up as any kind of paper, so I have nothing to credit or reference for the work I did.

-the worst one in my opinion. NO REFERENCE. I made it very clear at my interview before I started that I really needed a CP reference. We agreed the number of days I would work. Yet at the end of my time there the CP said she couldn't give me a reference as I hadn't worked there long enough!

-the team I worked at knew that their AP was leaving shortly after my 'contract' ended. I tried to ask about this but no one was keen to in any way train me up in her role, or even give me any experience in the other responsibilities she had, other than the audit I was working on. In my 'rounding off' session we discussed how despite all the work I'd done I still wasn't in a position to get an AP job.

The best part of my work experience? Because there was so little to do I spent a lot of the day perfecting job applications. And I did get 4 interviews out of it. Didn't get the jobs, but it was better than nothing.

The CP I worked with tried to convince me that a career in CP was unsuitable for me as I was more keen on therapy, working with patients and interventions than stats and research. She suggested I not bother applying and do counselling instead.

And I did spend one afternoon with a CP from another team. We discussed patients she had worked with and she let me read through the reports she had written on their sessions. She also gave me some good careers advice. Probably got more out of that afternoon that the whole rest of my work experience.

So my voluntary AP work now equates to little more a few lines on my CV, but it has given me a good dose of cynicism and I won't be messed around again! I have since secured a far better honorary position where I will actually get to complete an audit and co-run a group for patients. Still sticking with CP, I haven't been put off!

Tbh I now am thinking that when I was doing my third year research project I should have hired an honorary RA from a college near by, to give them some lines for their ucas form. Would have saved me a lot of time sorting my data!

Post your experiences of exploitation and abuse, make me feel better?

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Post by Spatch » Thu Sep 10, 2009 5:07 pm

Commiserations- Your experience sounds awful, yet not uncommon. I think I could write a book about the exploitation I have seen.

However, one of my most vivid examples was this bloke I knew who spent 5 months doing nothing but data entry (alone in a windowless office) for a research psychologist. They constantly mislaid his payroll details and kept telling him they would pay him next month what he was owed. This went on for 5 months until he had to leave because he couldnt pay his rent. Watching what happened to him was harrowing.

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Post by eponymous85 » Thu Sep 10, 2009 5:12 pm

A colleague of mine is currently being 'convinced'* by her supervisor that organising a conference will be better experience than clinical work.

*not at all convinced
The mind is not a book, to be opened at will and examined at leisure. Thoughts are not etched on the inside of skulls, to be perused by any invader. The mind is a complex and many layered thing.

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Post by finalhurdle » Sat Sep 12, 2009 9:40 am

I am really shocked by what goes on in the NHS with some Psychologists being so unmindful and thoughtless about others (I guess anyone can be, not just psychologists).

However in the 'caring' profession it really shocks me. Not to add fuel to the fire but just wait to you get onto clinical training to be traumatised by thoughtless tutors and admin staff.

I got a telephone call yesterday telling me to cancel my holiday as I'd no annual leave left and I'd apparently filled it in wrong. After 2 hours of tears and nearly a heart attack, the tutor phoned me back "Whoops..we were looking at the wrong trainees form".


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Post by BlackGirlLost » Sat Sep 12, 2009 2:05 pm

Your story sounds very similar to mine. I was an honorary AP for two practice part time (2 days per week at each).

One was in a private heathcare group, doing audit, helping run a psychology group, writing reports and some psychometric tests.

The second was in the NHS within a therapy department of OTs, CPs, Counsellors and Social workers. I was involved in a research project which I was required to get information from the nursing teams across the trust. This was a struggle in itself, I often ended up ring departments asking for information, them saying I will send it, then about 30 minutes later my supervisor calling me saying I was rude on the phone demanding information, the department phoned my supervisor straight after I did! I remember calling them back thinking in my head, how much nicer can I be. I ended up in supervision being told off and the CP never willing to listen to my side of the story.

I ended up actually going to the departments and getting the information myself without being asked, this took about 3 weeks but in the end I got what I wanted. I got to meet the people who complained to me and being patronised in the process. During this time my supervisor was too busy to supervise me so I ended up being supervised by one of the Counselling Psychologists. I ended up learning a lot from her. I had to return to one the departments to get some information even though I had called for it about 4 times. This is where I the nursing in charge who complained about me previously started shouting at me in the departmental office, saying I was going to send the information and how dare you come down to this office and take this information! I then got seriously confronted and pointed at, then I picked up the information and walked out of the department. I did considering a harassment case but opted out.

Next thing I knew I was in the office with my orginal CP. The situation was discussed. She then said I might not be able to continue on this project. I didn't really care as I was honorary. During this time the other private practice wanted to offer me a job!!! I was in the screening process and they were awaiting my police check. I did not tell my NHS honorary position at this time.

I continued working as a honorary AP in the NHS, I met the Counselling Psychologist who previously supervised me and I asked if I could speak to her. I told her everything. I showed her the work I had done since I had been there and what I had learnt. She told me that the CP and the nurse in charge in the department were infact good friends who went to university together. Then the Counselling Psychologist discussed the opportunity of working with her in running a group which she wanted to run and a research project she was working on.

I was then given a start date for the private practice who had given me a job. I ended up telling the NHS CP who then ended up offering me a paid position in the same role I was doing, I couldn't believe it! Turns out she had funds to pay me but did not tell me. I turned it down in the end. The Counselling Psychologist also offered me a position but I wanted to become a Clinical Psychologist & I told her it would be something I would consider in the future.

I've realised depending on who you work with you will never know what type of job it is. I have been in this position for nearly a year and its only until you start working you know you are working with. There is too much politics in healthcare in general. I am considering resigning very soon from the position I am in as I don't think I have any future development within this MDT.

I think also it is to do with individuals coping mechanism of stress within caring professions. I think my old CP took her frustration out on me rather than believe in me.

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Post by damnsaiyan » Sat Sep 12, 2009 4:04 pm

I can't believe what I'm reading... these all sound like horror stories! I think I might have been a bit naive to think things couldn't get as bad as what I've just read. I'm currently in an honorary RA post myself and to provide some contrast, I think it has been a really useful experience. Honorary posts can be very valuable IF you're working with a supportive supervisor and team, and you're getting something out of it as well. For my post I started out by doing one day a week, but now I only go in when I have to. I was involved in developing research and applying for ethics, data collection etc and this taught me a great deal. But if I was offered an honorary post of just data entry with nothing else I would not have taken it.

When people go for honorary posts you should discuss things with the potential supervisor to see what you can get out of the role and what you can provide them. And if you feel what was agreed is not taking place, discuss it with the supervisor. If they're not willing to change and frankly just taking the piss, then get out of there!

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Post by whitian » Sat Sep 12, 2009 4:54 pm

I have stories so horrific I can't even describe them here......... lol! :roll:

onwards and upwards

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Post by BlueCat » Mon Sep 14, 2009 10:16 am

eponymous85 wrote:A colleague of mine is currently being 'convinced'* by her supervisor that organising a conference will be better experience than clinical work.

*not at all convinced

Actually, I would agree that this is pretty good experience to be honest, and certainly well within the legitimate role of an assistant psychologist! Having been involved in setting up a conference, you really do learn a lot (it's not clinical, but then clinical is only a part of what we do). More and more we as a profession need to be able to market ourselves and certainly dissemination of information and knowledge is a key part of this, so organising a conference would fit that. It is something that qualified staff would do, why not an assistant? Also, it could potentially go in 11b on the new form!

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Post by Gilly » Tue Sep 15, 2009 4:22 pm

im currently working as an Honorary and its been one of the best experiences so far in my psych career. Im hoping to eventually get a proper AP job there at the end of it, i love it that much :D

Cant believe theres so many horror stories!

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