Promoting Excellence In Psychological Health & Wellbeing

Career Pathways for Psychological Professions – Wicked or Tame Problem?

28 Nov

Read more about the career map project in this blog by our Darzi Fellow, Cristina La Cara

We started the journey into this project by exploring the complexity of the issues around career pathways.

There are more than ten different Psychological Professions contributing to NHS services, with distinct identities and career paths. For the psychological professional and potential psychological professional it may be difficult to navigate a way in, or a route to progress, as these multiple paths include dead ends, bottlenecks and glass ceilings. Training and development to progress into new competencies may be inefficient and involve repetition of previous learning. These issues have arisen because of the organic development of the psychological professions as distinct entities with limited connections or co-ordination between them.

These issues are likely to have an impact on ambitions to increase the psychological professions workforce by an estimated 6,425 staff by 2021 in order to meet the objectives sets out in the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health. There is therefore an impact of this problem on prospective NHS staff, policy makers and patients. To address this “wicked” problem, work will be needed to understand the current career paths and we identified 4 main challenges: (1) Difficulty for individuals knowing how to enter the psychological professions within the NHS funded services, (2) Difficulty for staff to progress through psychological professions due to blocks and dead ends, inefficiencies in training pathways, grey areas and obstacles  (3) Glass ceilings for some groups in achieving leadership/senior positions, (4) insufficient representation of some protected characteristics in the psychological professions.

We used individual interviews and the conference workshop to identify some specific themes around barriers, which are as follows:

  • Financial issues linked to training and having to work with no remuneration to gain experience.
  • Lack of clear paths, especially from one profession to another.
  • Carer’s responsibilities and lack of part time training for certain professions
  • Trying to get experience without experience
  • Lack of training opportunities, especially around leadership.

These are only some of the issues identified and work is in progress to delve deeper into it. 

We clarified the idea that a map would help to clarify some of the issues and work has started to shape this part of the project.

Watch this space!

Cristina La Cara, Darzi Fellow

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