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Health Research? - October 12th 2015, 06:50 AM

Okay, so I've narrowed down my new career goals a little bit. I know that I want to do health-related research. When I went to talk to the professor who offered to help me after they threw me out of school she strongly suggested talking to their psychology faculty because she said it sounded like psychology was a good fit for me. I haven't talked to them, but they have a PhD program in health psychology(most psych programs go directly to the PhD with the masters as an interim step.) The major problem, other than I would NEVER get in, is that I'd have to be non-clinical, meaning research at the complete exclusion of human contact which would drive me NUTS and I'd have to teach which seems to be a universal fail among people with my rare LD. They also threaten to throw you out at or before the masters degree which would leave me in the exact same place except more time and money wasted.

I love the idea of health education also. Honestly, it sounds almost perfect for me and would provide a better balance between research and human contact, but I've heard there are ZERO jobs in it and I CANNOT afford a degree with no jobs; especially considering I'm basically already carrying the debt of a full masters degree, even though I'll never finish it. I've looked into pubic health, it looks like it might work for me, but I don't know. I guess it couldn't hurt to talk to them since they have a program for it. They're waiting for a final accreditation decision, I would only go there for it if it became accredited. After what's happened to me already I'm obviously afraid it will happen again since the issues were neurologically-based and permanent.

I can't provide clinical services, do math beyond algebra, or chemistry. I'm supposedly really good at research and have really good/high language skills combined with an interest in psychology, health, and helping people. Any ideas? They suggested writing self-help books, but unless you get published you can't make a living at that


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Re: Health Research? - October 12th 2015, 01:16 PM

I see you have already thought about public health, which is good because I was going to suggest that.

What about sociology or social work? Sociology tends to be a little more theoretical, but it's an option. The professors at my university really put me off of sociology, but I always hear about sociologists writing articles for magazines about sex, jobs, education, etc. so it might be a good option. Social work might also be a good option if you focus on community social work cause you could study health from a social level. I don't know if either option would pan out, I just thought I'd mix it in.

You could also look at community organizations (hospital, municipal governments, various health clinics, school boards and so forth) and see what they do regarding their hiring processes. You can conduct a few informational interviews with former students of programs youre interested in and see where they went and if what you did is really viable. And you can look into volunteering too.

Also, just because what you want to do isn't common, you could try doing what people like Laci Green do and create your own path through YouTube, a blog, public speaking, etc.




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Re: Health Research? - October 12th 2015, 03:52 PM

I'm currently getting my M.P.H in Health Behavior and Health Education, so very close to what you'd be wanting to do. Feel free to reach out to me about it. I'm a first year, but I can answer questions on the programs as a whole.

On health education: Getting an M.P.H for health education is hit or miss, as it's not really necessary to be a health educator. I worked in health education before pursuing my degree. It will improve your chances on jobs and make you more competitive, but experience is a lot more important for health education than a Master's degree. Most of the people I know in health education have just a BA (in anything...my boss had hers in Spanish) and/or have a Master's in Higher Education. At my job, there was only one person with an M.P.H and she worked higher up in the organization and not as a health educator. An M.P.H makes you more competitive, and makes jobs that do development or implementation of health behavior interventions/programs much easier instead of doing more of the "on-the-ground" health education work. You're more likely to have a job as "Program Coordinator" in a nonprofit than a caseworker or a health educator, but you may end up doing a mixture of all of this type of work. Have you tried getting a Health Educator position with your Bachelor's first? Building your resume would help you get into an M.P.H program, and help you find out if it's something you actually want to do. Most M.P.H programs want relevant experience, anyway.

On health research...do you want to go into research? First, I wouldn't say you're guaranteed any more jobs than a health educator unless you land a gig at the NIH or something. And for the particular M.P.H degree, it's practice based, for the most part. Granted, most people that end up doing health behavior research get an M.P.H first, but you're right that you'd probably need a PhD in either Public Health or in Health Psychology, and that's a huge commitment, the programs are usually very competitive, so if research isn't actually what you want to do, it'd be a waste of your time. Most people in my program don't want to do research, and I go to a top research school. It's not for everybody. I love research, but it's hard, and if you want to go into practice that you get to see your work make a direct difference to people, research can sometimes be fairly unrewarding as it takes years for anything you do to make a direct difference...if it even ever gets published, or the work ever gets used for an intervention.

Look into the programs. Public health is basically the coolest career in the world, but the programs are expensive, the jobs are not always there, and don't waste your time doing something you don't want to do.


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