Yinka is an incoming 1st year Clinical Psychology Trainee at Newcastle University. On Wednesday 9th of September 2020, Yinka hosted a Twitter Q&A session via the @BIPPNetwork account as part of the #NewFaceofPsychology campaign.
Check out her helpful tips and answers to aspiring psychologists' questions in the thread:
Do you think NHS experience is valued more than working in the private sector?
I have heard this, but it's not been the case in my experience. I didn't have any NHS experience at the time of my application, but I do work within an IAPT service. It can be helpful to speak about what you do know about the NHS that's relevant to clinical training, such as values/MDT working, for example. In seeking experience, I definitely recommend looking outside the NHS too. There are so many valuable roles within private/educational/3rd sector organisations.
Thank you @ItsDunni I’ve also heard this but reassuring to know other experiences other than NHS AP roles are being considered and valued.
Definitely! I never worked as an AP, my clinical experience came from working as a PWP, MH/ID support worker and voluntary roles for mental health charities. I think the most important thing is being able to demonstrate how the experience is relevant & what you've learned from it
What advice would you give to first time applicants to the programme?
The purpose of the application is to let your personality, skills and ability shine through. Don't focus too much on reeling off all of your experience, but try to reflect on the implications of that experience and what makes you stand out among the other applicants.
Any advice for anyone who has failed to get onto the doctorate several times?
Rejection is a really difficult part of this journey, but sometimes it can help us to identify areas to improve on. Are there ways you can improve/broaden your experience? Maybe seek out support from trainees/qualified CPs when writing your application. Or if you're having difficulty with interviews, try to engage in mock interviews with colleagues/supervisors.
Try to reflect on why you want to be a CP - are there alternative roles that can provide you with what you want to get from the role? If you decide that CP is for you, keep pursuing your goal. Remember that this is one aspect of your life, so try not to become consumed by it (which is definitely easier said than done!) and try to enjoy the journey (your job/personal life) as much as possible.
How does one manage their anxiety around application season? Particularly with social media being at times a constant discussion on the competitiveness of ClinPsy.
I think social media can be a double-edged sword when it comes to this - it can be really helpful for gaining tips but can also get very overwhelming, very quickly. If it's something that creates a lot of anxiety for you, prioritise your wellbeing. It's really important to establish boundaries during this time and focus your attention to what's most important to you - maybe allocate a certain amount of time to read the discussions or if necessary, avoid them altogether. I do want to say, everyone's experience of the process is unique. For some people, it takes several years of experience and applications and for others it takes much less. I got one interview on my first application and that led to me getting a place. The statistics can be so discouraging, but you aren't defined by them or anyone else's experiences.
Try to focus more on what you are doing and learning in your role, why you want to be a CP and what you can bring to the field. It's not about getting on to the course as quickly as possible, but becoming a well-rounded clinician/practitioner who is ready to go through training! #NewFaceofPsychology
How wide does your knowledge of psychological theories has to be when preparing for the application?
For the application, I would say it's important to reflect well on the theories you already know. The application is the place to demonstrate your understanding of their real-life applications and to give examples of where you've done so. For example, I spoke about my work with CBT, its principles and how I can apply these skills in clinical training. It's not necessarily mandatory to mention any theories within the application, but I guess it always helps to demonstrate your knowledge :)
What do you think separated you from other applicants?
I have a really broad/varied background in terms of experience - I've worked with clients across the lifespan in paid and voluntary clinical + research settings, as well as clinical/research.
I also think I reflected quite well on my personal experiences (relating to race/ethnicity), and how this has enhanced my clinical work. Coming across as confident in the interview and remembering to reflect in each Q also helped (I think, haha)
What was the hardest part of the process & how did you get through it?
I would say remaining resilient has probably been the hardest part. I faced a lot of rejection throughout this journey, from courses/jobs etc. It's important to remember your strengths and as cliche as it sounds, "delay is not denial". I tried to remember my strengths and the value I knew I could bring to the field. Jobs within the field are hugely competitive, and rejection does not define you, your abilities or your destination. Hope that helps :)
Any tips for balancing work, life and completing the application? I’m working remotely at the moment and it can be challenging to carve out time for each in the same physical space.
It can definitely be difficult to strike a balance between the three, especially when working and living in the same space. It might be helpful to work in separate rooms, if possible. And it's important to take regular breaks - I did my best to allocate time for working on the application one or two evenings a week but also set time aside to be with family/friends/engaging hobbies etc.
What kind of experience did you have that you think set you apart from others? Especially in undergraduate years
During my undergrad I volunteered at various charities in my area (like Childline and Autism Initiatives) as a helpline counsellor, research assistant and support group facilitator . I also worked as an honorary research intern with a psychology lecturer (via a scheme at uni)
I don't think any one role set me apart, but perhaps the general variety of my roles. I was able to get experience working with a diverse range of clients across the lifespan, in clinical/research settings, and with varying presentations.
I also tried to disseminate research where possible, I presented my MSc research at a conference, presented audits/work I had done within my clinical role at service meetings, assisted on a study as an honorary RA which was recently published. I think it's helpful to get a good balance between research+clinical experience, where possible & to disseminate research however you can because it demonstrates your ability to work on clinical projects & contribute to the evidence base etc. and these are skills relevant to the role of a CP/scientist-practitioner
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