This is an age-old question that we seem to be asked over and over again. “PsychAssist I’ve been offered a job but it’s within a private service and I don’t know if this will hinder me in the future as it’s not a NHS post. What should I do?” Sound familiar? Ok before we get into the pros and cons of working in private practice or the NHS, you must know one thing. BOTH TYPES OF SERVICES ARE VALUED EXACTLY THE SAME IN THE EYES OF YOUR FUTURE EMPLOYER! You will not be hindered if you opt to take a position within a private service or even a charity. As long as you display the ability to reflect on your experience then you’ll be fine.
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Benefits of working in the NHS
Now I don’t want you to misunderstand the motives of this article. Working within the NHS is one of the most satisfying and rewarding things you could do. The fact that you can help the neediest of people who most likely could never afford going private is amazing. This is by far the biggest benefit to working within the NHS. Another benefit has to be the vast amounts of opportunities that could come your way just by being “in the system”. There are many trusts that regularly recruit from within their organisation which means less competition for potential career enhancing roles. One final benefit which I have found really helps is the fact that the NHS provides a very generous annual leave allowance and pension schemes which always comes in handy.
Cons of working in the NHS
Now we don’t want to spend too much time on the cons of working within the NHS (as that could be a whole other article); so we will be brief. Psych Grads must understand that if they are serious about working within the NHS you must be prepared to work within a highly pressured environment. Currently the NHS is trying to do the best it can with the resources available which often means that are most likely to have the most stressful job out of your friends. Mix that in with long hours and irritable patients and you could have a recipe for disaster. I have a friend who regularly works 65+ hours a week in a hospital so you can imagine the strain his body is placed under every single day.
Benefits of working in Private Services
This is an angle that we don’t see enough of on the internet. What are the benefits of working within the private sector; as we have only come across the negatives and the scaremongering of working in these types of settings? There’s actually quite a lot of perks as private companies usually have more resources and funding to do a lot more with their client group. I used to have a supervisor who worked as an Assistant Psychologists for a private company and she always told me that she learnt so much whilst in that post due to being exposed to so much. Private companies are always looking for PsychGrads to help train them to eventually progress in the field of psychology and will often provide extensive training. Nevertheless, the biggest benefit to working within the private sector (or looking for jobs within this setting) is the reduced competition for roles. Everyone is looking for NHS experience and discarding amazing opportunities, so by applying for these types of roles, you are more likely to be offered the job as there are fewer people to compete with. If you don’t believe me, I’ll give you an example. A typical Assistant Psychologists job post will receive between 60-100 applicants over a couple of days; where as a typical advert for an AP private company will receive between 10-20 applicants. Which one would you choose?
Cons of working in private practice
Before you get excited about looking for roles within the private sector, everything has a down side. Within the private sector, many PsychGrads have fed back that on occasion you are expected to work above what is typically expected of your role. I’ll give you an example; One PyshcGrad who worked within the private sector would regularly hold a case load of over 20 clients and would be expected to see those clients with very little supervision. The pressure of holding this case load and not feeling comfortable or confident enough to be delivering certain therapeutic models ultimately led to him leaving his post due to the lack of guidance from his supervisor. This is actually quite common and could lead to PsychGrads becoming overwhelmed by the workload and the lack of supervision to help guide and mould their practice. It may feel good at the time as your gaining 1 on 1 experience however this will really stilt your development.
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