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Psychology Students Think About Money

Written by S. Hein in 2000


Once I was visiting a class for undergraduate psychology students at the University of Florida. There were approximately 150 students in the room. The speaker was a psychology professor in the department who also had his own private practice. The entire theme of his lecture was how to make the most money. First he talked about how you can't make any money with just a Masters degree, and how you certainly won't make any money if you go into social work. He said it was necessary to get a Ph.D. if you had any hope of making any real money.

Then he talked about how difficult it was to get accepted into a top Ph.D. program. As I looked around at the 19-21 year olds in the room, I could see the fear and anxiety in their faces. In fact, I could feel the tension in the room. I thought to myself, "These kids are already under enough pressure, this kind of stress sure isn't going to help them think about other people's needs and about helping other people. It is just going to make them think even more about themselves."

During his lecture, he complained about the fact that psychologists can't prescribe drugs but psychiatrists can. He wanted the legislation in the USA changed so psychologists could also prescribe drugs. He told the students, "There are only so many hours in the week. And there is only one of you. Your income is limited to how many patients you can see in that week. There is a fixed cap on how much you can make. No matter how many hours you work in a week, there is still a ceiling on how much you can make in one year."

He explained that if one goes into clinical psychology one can open up a private practice and charge somewhere around $100 US dollars per hour, which often is paid for by insurance companies. If one goes into psychiatry, where in the USA one can prescribe drugs, for "mental illnesses," then it is possible to charge approximately the same amount after only spending 10 or 15 minutes with a client.

He was encouraging the use of drugs simply because they were more profitable. He also enticed the students with his stories of how the pharmaceutical companies lavished the psychiatrists with expensive presents and sent them to free conferences around the world so they could promote their newest drugs.

Throughout his lecture there was no mention of the patients' needs or of the quality of the service being provided. It was all about money.

S. Hein
August, 2000

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