The Career Doctor™

by Dr. Jacqueline Hornor Plumez

Looking for a first job? Thinking of changing careers? Facing a lay-off? The Career Doctor™ is a Larchmont psychologist specializing in career counseling. If you'd like to ask a question of your own, use our anonymous form, and she might answer you here. Read more about the Career Doctor here. Contact information is here.


Dear Career Doctor:

I had a medical scare when I was 23 and was so affected by my positive and negative experiences as a patient that I started thinking I want to make a difference in the way patients are treated.

I am currently a 27 year-old mother of an 18 month-old, finishing up a Master's in communication management on a part-time basis while I work full-time from home. I am considering getting a Ph.D. in clinical psychology or becoming a psychiatrist. I am compassionate, driven and hard-working and would have an excellent bedside manner. But I never have had much interest in science courses.

What should I do?


Dear JEMV:

I always suggest considering the easiest possible solution first. So why not explore using your communication management Masters to get a job with a hospital? Once you are part of the management team at a hospital, there will probably be many things you can do to insure that patients get treated with compassion and positive care. For example, writing up the Compassionate Employee-of-the-Month (nominated by patients) would get staff thinking the way you know they should.

Your far more difficult option is to become a psychiatrist or psychologist, especially if you don't like science courses. Getting your MD degree will require you to take many extremely difficult science courses. Clinical psychology Ph.D. programs focus on the psychological rather than the medical aspects of a person's problems, and therefore, the basic science required is far lighter.

The other difference in psychiatry versus psychology programs involve the kind of people/problems you are trained to treat. While both programs tend to have some in-patient and out-patient supervised experience, psychiatrists are basically trained to handle problems so severe that medication is required, while psychologists are more extensively trained in psychotherapy issues that do not require medication.

Given the fact that practice for both specialties is more and more controlled by insurance companies/HMO's, psychiatrists are being pushed to offer short sessions where the emphasis is on providing medication, not therapy. Psychologists are being pushed to refer patients for medication and to offer short-term therapy.

The Career Doctor

The Career Doctor cannot answer every question here, and she does not respond to personal emails. Please use this form to ask your question.

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The Career Doctor™ is Larchmont psychologist and career counselor, Dr. Jacqueline Hornor Plumez.

Her office is at 90 Beechtree Drive in Larchmont, 914-834-1982.