The main reason for choosing QUB to pursue the DClinPsych was because of the course's excellent reputation. Also for those who are from NI many were already familiar with QUB, knew others who had completed the course and planned to remain working in NI. For that reason QUB was the preferred choice. For those from outside NI, many were attracted by the unique placement opportunities available, such as the Family Trauma Centre, as well as the excellent reputation of the course. We were also aware that the teaching was highly regarded, and we preferred the smaller class sizes.
The class described their experiences of getting onto the course as quite varied. Many had post graduate qualifications, and some with PhDs, whilst others joined the course with just their undergraduate degrees and relevant clinical experience. We thought for this reason that it was quite difficult to describe a typical journey, but that commitment and drive to get onto the course was one defining feature common to all.
We all found this to be a long and tiring day. Compared with others' interview experiences with other courses the QUB day was described as well planned and well thought out. It was helpful having three aspects to the evaluation, rather than judgements on suitability for the course being made simply on a single interview. All staff were found to be warm and welcoming, and the panel did well to put us at ease. It was also appreciated having trainees available to speak with on the day, and the sandwiches were much appreciated too! Overall a hospitable and warm balance against a tiring and demanding day.
First year was described as challenging in many ways, requiring many adjustments to be made in finding a balance between work and the rest of life. Academic pressures were found to be particularly tough in first year, with quite a few deadlines and a focus on self directed learning which many found difficult to adjust to. This was made somewhat easier by the year long clinical placement, which allowed us to find our feet and develop our skills and confidence over that year long period.
In second year so far, we have found the teaching aspect to be more intensive and allows for more integrative thinking about formulation and intervention. Greater autonomy is expected of us on placement, meaning greater reliance on previously learned transferrable skills.
The most positive aspects of the course to date have been the small and friendly nature of the course. We recognise and appreciate the core staff, who are approachable and supportive. A small class means we are available to each other as a means of peer support as well which we have found to be very important. We feel that the course team are aware of the pressures we feel at different times and are try to be as accommodating in relieving course related pressure as they can be. Teaching is generally interesting, varied, and stimulating. Some of the more challenging aspects were described as managing the constantly changing roles between trainee on placement and trainee at QUB, establishing and maintaining a genuine work life balance.