This is my first year on the job market. I've had a few phone interviews and also several campus interviews so far. They went fine. As far as I can tell, the schools where I've interviewed haven't yet extended offers so it's possible I may still be in the running. …But I can't shake this feeling that's been creeping up on me throughout this process that I'm fighting and fighting for a job that I *think* I will like, but which will require me to work long hours every week, which doesn't pay all that well, and which (in all likelihood) won't result in the kind or degree of scientific impact that I'd fantasized about making when I was an undergraduate or even a grad student. While I truly love teaching and have a genuine love of research as well, I also really enjoy my clinical work. Am I nuts for thinking about throwing in the towel on pursuit of an academic job and just going into clinical work? I have many friends in private practice who work shorter hours, make more money, and are deeply satisfied with their jobs. I definitely share this feeling of deep satisfaction with my work after I see clients. Are any other clinical psych folks having the same thoughts?
Date: 23 Jan 2012 01:12
Number of posts: 5
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If you really like clinical work, that's a great thing - and you are not at all nuts for making it the focus of your career. Just because a job is hard to get, doesn't mean it's the best job for you. I'm focusing on academic positions because I am more engaged by research and teaching than by clinical work. But if your passion is for clinical work, follow that! You can always look for positions in places like VAs and university teaching hospitals where you can still stay active in research, teaching, and supervision.
If you really want to do clinical work, then go for it! However, I would try not to get caught up with the "grass is greener" thinking too much. While you may have some friends making good money, I'd imagine that long-term you won't be making that much without also putting in longer hours and seeing more patients.
I've been told that once you designate yourself as "clinical" that it will be a real tough road should you ever want to come back to academia. So, tread carefully, and if you are wavering, you might consider where you'd want to be in 10 years.
Hey - I totally agree with both responses. On the one hand, I think you should totally go the clinical route if this is where your passion and interests lie. I've certainly heard of people being deeply satisfied in clinical careers. Unfortunately, I've also heard of people being much LESS satisfied, and talking about what a tough road it is to do full-time clinical work. I think it really depends on the person (similar to how some love their academic jobs, and others really don't!).
So, I guess the main thing is to not get too caught up in "grass is always greener," but to recognize all jobs come with strengths and challenges. The question becomes: which strengths/challenges are most critical in your life?
I'm in a very similar position and am having a tough time making a decision. The pay is certainly better than any academic job I'm likely to get. I'm not a top-tier researcher with huge grants so my academic possibilities are generally high teaching load in undesirable locations. Feeling stuck, a bit, but the good news is that I don't have any offers yet so it's all immaterial at this point!