Help me pick a path
February 21, 2008 12:47 PM   Subscribe

LifeFilter: Now What? Sometimes great ideas come from unexpected sources. MeFi, I'm looking at you. So, this is my dilemma: I was not accepted to OHSU's Accelerated Bachelor of Science to Masters Program to become a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner and while I am disappointed, I'm taking that as indication that maybe the traditional medical model approach to mental health is not the right path for me. I am very interested in psychology, sociology, social justice, mental health, human rights... I've considered naturopathic medicine, graduate school (psychology, interdisciplinary...), and giving up.

My husband says school is good for me (the structure and challenge) and I really like being a student but I don't want to amass a lot of debt for a degree that won't pay off (i.e. the Psych Nursing investment: return ratio is very good). Also, we want to live somewhere rural so the degree I pursue has to be one I can use in a rural setting. My dream is to build a house (salvaged railcars?) with my husband where we live off the grid and let our two spoiled rotten pit bulls run to their hearts' content. We've also discussed starting a pit bull rescue org, but that takes land and money so it may be further down the road. I really feel like my life could go so many directions right now. I am open.

Other possibly pertinent information: I am almost 29 and female. My work experience includes home health care/hospice and supervising a homeless shelter on the weekend (favorite job EVER) plus random clerical-type jobs during college. I didn't study for the GRE and scored 1100+. I also didn't really crack many books in college and ended up with a 3.5 GPA in Liberal Studies. In my free time lately I've been reading about hyperspace/quantum mechanics/string theory and I am attempting to find a Theory of Everything. I love to read Sun Magazine and great books like East of Eden, The Road, Sometimes a Great Notion, Infinite Jest... I subscribe to dozens of psych/science/art blogs w/ Google Reader and it's been suggested that I am addicted to the internet although I just think I am addicted to information. I consider myself to be very right-brained. (I was diagnosed as possibly having ADD but I think that can be explained by being right-brained.) I have a side gig of photographing old cars and photography in general is a big hobby for me. I've had a couple photos published. We are not willing to live anywhere east of the Rockies in the US and I'd prefer to stay in the PacNW. No, what I'd really prefer is to expatriate to Mexico, but I don't have the money. I see a shrink weekly and I find that process extremely interesting and challenging. I still feel drawn to the psychology-related fields but maybe there's something out there I haven't considered. Thanks in advance.
posted by hulahulagirl to Education (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I would consider social work, given your interests (working with people, mental health, social justice, etc. Also very handy in rural settings - usually hard for orgs to find people willing to work rurally.) . On the other hand, you won't have a very high return ratio on the investment.
posted by never used baby shoes at 12:56 PM on February 21, 2008

You don't necessarily amass a ton of debt in grad school. I am in a program where I am paid a stipend and I have a tuition waiver, so I only have to pay a $700 fee each semester. Look around and see what is out there.
posted by bolognius maximus at 1:02 PM on February 21, 2008

You might consider speaking with a career counselor.
posted by box at 1:02 PM on February 21, 2008

Most graduate schools pay their students' tuition.
posted by kldickson at 1:10 PM on February 21, 2008

I think a masters in social work is a good, very flexible degree which has a terrific return on investment. Not sure what data neverused is drawing from. You can look at the National Association of Social Workers and learn more about the field. Social workers can work in medical and psychiatric and in some states at least, can practice independently with appropriate licensing.

This is out of left field, but when I read your description of yourself, it reminded me a lot of a friend of mine from long ago who started out to become a midwife but ended up studying naturopathic medicine at a school right there in Oregon. No idea if that appeals to you or not, but if it does, be sure to consider licensing issues and whether other states offer reciprocity or not, in case you might want to move.
posted by jasper411 at 1:13 PM on February 21, 2008

You would have to pay for a MSW. There's a difference between going to graduate school for a PhD (with the stipends and paid tuition and you're teaching and writing and doing research) and going to professional school like law, medical, etc. where *you* pay *them* to take graduate level courses full time. So getting an MSW (which still sounds like it might be a great option for you) would, actually, cost you a lot of money, especially relative to the salary you'd expect upon graduation (which would be lower still in a rural area).
posted by moxiedoll at 1:45 PM on February 21, 2008

What about a public policy masters? It sounds like it would be right up your alley, and it would prepare you for a lot of different career options.

PS Your dogs are adorable!
posted by miss tea at 2:16 PM on February 21, 2008

Response by poster: Interesting suggestions--thank you. I have considered an MSW and have a friend who recently earned hers at PSU. But I don't know if I feel strongly enough about it. I want to be passionate about what I do. I am pretty sure I am definitely not cut out for something like public policy. I don't like group work, committees, meetings, etc. Something that allows me to be as indepedent as possible is ideal.

(thanks, miss tea---we love them a lot. the white one is a hurricane katrina survivor.)
posted by hulahulagirl at 2:56 PM on February 21, 2008

Most graduate schools pay their students' tuition.
posted by kldickson at 4:10 PM on February 21 [+] [!]

This is true only in programs like humanities PhDs, where you can't get money from grants (as you can in the sciences) and where you're expected to go into academia when you finish. It's not true for professional degrees like law, med, social work, etc, where you are getting the degree so you can go out into the world and get a job.
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:28 PM on February 21, 2008

social work
posted by OmieWise at 3:58 PM on February 21, 2008

I work in admissions for an allied health master's program. I'm guessing what may have torpedoed your application or interview is the fact that you have so many interests.

One of the questions we ask in an interview is what the applicant would do if we didn't offer them a seat. If the applicant says they would pursue graduate studies in another field - it's curtains for them.

Don't get me wrong - people who have a lot of interests aren't bad. It's just that graduate schools are making an investment and you and your future success. Their reputation (and revenue, depending on the institution) are riding on you sticking with the program and succeeding once in the field.

What should you do now? My suggestion, if you're interested in pursuing OHSU, would be to e-mail the admissions coordinator or your interview and ask how you can improve your application for the next cycle.

After that, I've got nothing. You are the person who knows what she wants out of life - you're so passionate, I know you'll be a success in whatever you pursue. You sound really cool. Good luck!
posted by princesspathos at 4:42 PM on February 21, 2008

Response by poster: princesspathos: I agree with your assessment that I have a lot of interests...but I don't know that it affected the outcome since my application to OHSU was very specific about what I plan(ned) to do with my degree/professional life. And I have made an appt to speak with the admissions counselor to see if it would be worthwhile for me to wait and apply again next year. Thanks for the encouragement.
posted by hulahulagirl at 5:07 PM on February 21, 2008

Yay! I'm glad to hear that I was wrong! Good luck with everything!
posted by princesspathos at 5:20 PM on February 21, 2008

The answer probably will come from WHY you didn't get in.
posted by gjc at 8:16 PM on February 21, 2008

I don't like group work, committees, meetings, etc. Something that allows me to be as indepedent as possible is ideal.

I really would advise you to take a second look at PP. You definitely wouldn't be required to work in committees... I have friends who are researchers, and trust me, they often don't speak to people for days! Specifically I have a friend who does research in the field of women's health, which sounds like it would be up your alley.
posted by miss tea at 4:15 AM on February 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: gjc: yes, I hope that will give me some insight

misstea: you're right--I won't rule it out...anything that allows me to work independently is worth looking at
posted by hulahulagirl at 8:12 AM on February 22, 2008

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