Careers rarely develop the way we plan them. Our career path often takes many twists and turns, with particular events, choices and people influencing our direction.

We asked Elaine MacDonald from St. Michael's House to give some advice for people considering this job:

 

Elaine MacDonald

Psychologist - Clinical

St. Michael's House

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  Elaine MacDonald

Make sure you are willing to go the full distance in terms of the time needed to train as a Clinical Psychologist – it’s typically at least six years academic study, and invariably this period is interspersed with work in a relevant field.

Do be as confident as you can that you’re happy being a “listener” and “observer”, as you will spend significant amounts of time in your work life as a Clinical Psychologist being in this role, as well as being in the “do-er” role and being in the limelight.

To have a good ‘fit’ with this career you’ll need to be happy working with people – as individuals on a one to one basis, with groups (e.g. families), and as part of a team in the workplace.

You need to have a good attention to detail as the job needs good observation skills, record keeping, and organisation skills.

Be prepared for learning and self-development to be on-going for the whole of your career because, as a Clinical Psychologist, you’ll be learning and using techniques and intervention approaches that are being constantly developed, and be working in accordance with policies and laws that are also constantly evolving.

The last piece of advice I’d give to someone considering this job is to be as sure as you can that you feel comfortable and even excited at the prospect of your career revolving around people and groups with all the varied, diverse, and unpredictable rewards and challenges that this brings!

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Niall Moyna - Sports Scientist

“I have an amazing job. In fact, my job is my hobby,” says Niall Moyna, a top sports scientist at Dublin City University (DCU).

Niall came to science late, however. In secondary school, at St Macartan’s College in Monaghan, he was a runner and Gaelic footballer.

The fascination begins

“To make myself a better athlete, I would buy textbooks to figure out how the body worked and it was from there I just became fascinated with the body,” he explains.

At 17 he went to St Vincent’s hospital in Dublin to see a heart expert because of a suspected enlarged heart. It turned out he just had a large but healthy heart from running. It was then he realised he wanted to study and work in exercise and health.

Exciting discoveries

Niall did sports science at the University of Limerick and then did a master’s degree in Purdue University in Indiana, US. He was driven by his love of sport and still gets excited by discoveries.

“We have just completed a study where we looked at Gaelic football players and compared two groups,” says Niall. Both groups trained three times a week for six weeks. One group did standard training for 800 minutes in total. The other group did 80 minutes of high-intensity exercises (such as sprinting) three times a week. Those doing high-intensity training maintained their speed and power – unlike the others – and showed the same improvement in fitness.

“This is a great example of how we can maximise training for club-level Gaelic football players.”

Change of direction

When Niall came home from the US, he taught in the Marist College in Dundalk and St Macartan’s for three years. Then he returned to college, attending one of the biggest medical centres in the US at the University of Pittsburgh. He learned that the hardening of the arteries was an inflammatory response and realised that exercise could be used like a drug.

“I started to work with individuals with chronic clinical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer.”

A passion for research

Today he teaches and does research. He talks excitedly about studies in DCU on how exercise turns genes on and off and what kind of nutrition someone should take. There is an impression that you have to be a genius to be a scientist. “That is not the case. There are careers in science for a wide variety of people,” says Niall.


Article by: Smart Futures