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Why you should apply for research roles - clinical research practitioner

This article has been adapted from episode 114 of The Aspiring psychologist Podcast. If you prefer you can listen here or watch here. 

In the bustling realm of mental health, one often seeks guidance and insight from those treading the path ahead. In a recent episode of the Aspiring Psychologist Podcast, Dr. Marianne Trent delved into the world of research roles with Jessica McGiffen, an assistant clinical research practitioner within the NHS. Their conversation was not only enlightening but also brimming with wisdom and encouragement for those considering a similar career trajectory.

Exploring the Journey

Jessica's journey into the field of mental health research was anything but conventional. With a background in forensic psychology, her career trajectory was marked by diverse experiences ranging from volunteering with ex-offenders to working as a teaching assistant in alternative provisions for high schools. However, it was a serendipitous encounter with a job listing for a research role that led her to her current position.

Breaking Misconceptions

One of the key takeaways from Jessica's narrative is the importance of challenging misconceptions about career eligibility. She candidly shares her initial doubts about being qualified for the research role, a sentiment echoed by many aspiring psychologists. Her experience underscores the significance of seizing opportunities even when feeling underqualified, as they can often lead to unforeseen avenues of growth and fulfillment.

Embracing Growth Opportunities

Jessica's role as a clinical research practitioner encompasses a wide array of responsibilities, from participant recruitment and consent processes to liaising with clinical services and managing study facilitation. Despite initial apprehensions, she found herself adapting to the role with ease, highlighting the transformative power of hands-on experience and supportive environments.

Navigating Challenges

While Jessica's journey has been rewarding, it hasn't been devoid of challenges. She emphasises the importance of time management and self-advocacy, noting the need to set boundaries and prioritise well-being amidst demanding workloads. Her insights serve as a reminder of the importance of seeking support and fostering a culture of open communication within professional settings.

Empowering Others

In reflecting on her career trajectory, Jessica extends a message of empowerment to aspiring psychologists. She encourages individuals to embrace their unique journeys, challenge self-doubt, and seize opportunities for growth. Her story exemplifies the transformative potential of perseverance, resilience, and a willingness to embrace the unknown.

Final Thoughts

Jessica's journey into the world of mental health research offers a glimpse into the multifaceted nature of career pathways within psychology. Her narrative serves as a testament to the value of curiosity, adaptability, and a willingness to step outside one's comfort zone. As aspiring psychologists embark on their own journeys, Jessica's story serves as a beacon of inspiration, reminding us that the road less travelled often leads to the most profound discoveries.


In conclusion, the conversation between Dr. Marianne Trent and Jessica McGiffen sheds light on the intricacies of pursuing a career in research within the realm of mental health. It underscores the importance of challenging misconceptions, embracing growth opportunities, and navigating challenges with resilience and determination. As aspiring psychologists chart their own paths, Jessica's journey serves as a testament to the transformative power of curiosity, perseverance, and a passion for making a difference in the field of mental health.

To learn more about different routes to professional psychologist qualifications check out the aspiring psychologist collective and clinical psychologist collective books. To never miss an episode of the aspiring psychologist podcast or a free compassionate Q&A sign up to Dr Marianne Trent's free mailing list here.

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