Psychology vs mental health nursing?

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Psychology vs mental health nursing?

Post by SaraK » Wed Oct 09, 2019 10:01 am

Hi all, new here.

I'll start by saying this will be a long post so please read it all and thank you in advance for any advice.

Ever since i was at high school i knew what i wanted to do , i wanted to be either a physcitrist or psychologist. I knew i wanted to work in mental health and help people as i knew what it was like to be in that position. I was severely bullied at school and i was one those people who firstly wanted to understand why this person was bullying me , like what was going on inside his head to make him think is was ok and then secondly i wanted to help him see that bullying is not the way to whatever is hurting him. However i had to leave school as my mom became very ill and needed me to be her carer. I was my moms full time carer from 15 till i was 26 (im now 27) , mom is now well enough to be on her own after all these years. For the past year i have been doing my English GCSE , because i had to leave school to look after my mom i was not able to get any GCSEs. So i went straight back to college to do them and am doing them one at a time. I have also been doing work experience in a mental health clinic were i get to shadow a psychologist. I decided on work experience to check its still what i want to do and to make sure its for me.

I have enjoyed every minute i spent there and my passion to work in mental health is still very much alive.

My dream job is to be a clinical pyscologist but all my family say that its not easy to find a job once fully qualified and that there are a lot of psychologists who not matter how hard they apply never get on the Doctorate and never get fully qualified.

This worries me as i dont want to end up unemployed or go through Uni and never become a fully qualified psychologist. Is what they say true?

My family told me to either do a psychology degree and then go onto do a gradtue medicine course so that i can become a pyscitrist or do mental health nursing as both mean im still in mental health.

I have shadowed a pyscitrist and have just finished 6 weeks work experience on a mental health ward mainly working with the nurses. As i mainly just want to work in mental health i enjoyed all three but i still prefer the role of both a pyscologist or pyscitrist.

I just want to know if i should go with mental health nursing like my family say with it being in demand or should i listen to my friend who told me about becoming a pyscitrist ( but im worried with the graduate route being so competitive).

Deep down i know being pyscologist is the best one for me and the one i really want to be but am unsure if i should follow my heart with what friends and family have warned about?

I woukd be very greatful for any advice.

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Re: Psychology vs mental health nursing?

Post by miriam » Wed Oct 09, 2019 11:05 pm

I'd take one step at a time. Take your GCSEs, see if you can get some A-levels or an access course, then see whether that opens any doors to a nursing or psychology degree. When you have a degree in the bag, try to get some experience and find out more about the routes to professional qualification. Worrying about what will happen after graduating is pre-emptive at the moment, as you don't sound like you are in a position to be applying for degree courses yet. And the advice we always give is to enjoy the stage of the journey you are at, rather than worrying too much about distant career goals.

Based on your post, your spelling appears to be an area of difficulty, so it might be helpful to see whether you can get some support on that front and an indication of your academic ability, which sounds like it hasn't yet been tested much as you have only just done your first GCSE. Bear in mind that it isn't just a case of getting into university - you will need to do very well academically to progress in medicine, or to gain a place on the doctoral clinical psychology training (most courses require at least 67% in your degree, or to come in the top 15% of a set of assessments to gain an interview, as well as some relevant experience). Nursing is a bit less demanding on the academic side, and a bit of a shorter and more certain path to qualification, but still requires a degree.

It is important to be realistic about the requirements of each profession. Medicine and Clinical Psychology are both very long, very competitive and very academic career paths that will take a minimum of 8 years from starting your degree - and that still seems to be something that is a few years away yet. That doesn't mean it is impossible, just that you will need a decade of determination to get there, as well as the personal and academic qualities. It is absolutely true that there is no certainty of progressing onto the professional training to be a practitioner psychologist, and without this doctorate qualification a psychology degree is just a generic degree - it doesn't allow you to practice or work as a psychologist, so most psych grads go on to work in business, HR or other professions like social work or nursing. Gaining relevant experience to progress in a psychology career after graduating is also highly competitive (the best positions attract 200+ applicants, and most positions working with a clinical psychologist get at least 60 applicants per vacancy; even unpaid voluntary positions can be highly competitive). So many people do have to change their plans as they go along. But once you have the clinical doctorate there is no issue with finding employment, in fact there are probably more jobs than applicants in some client groups and parts of the country. And there is a real shortfall of psychiatrists. But it doesn't make the path to get there any less tough.

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