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Choosing Epidemiology

Posted on January 20, 2009

Guillermo J. Prado (bio) explains how his plans to major in psychology changed.


I thought I was going to get my Ph.D. in psychology, so after I started working at the Center for Family Studies, everybody around me was either a clinical psychologist or developmental psychologist. There were no epidemiologists, no public health professionals working in that research center.

And I knew I wanted a doctorate, and psychology seemed to be the natural fit. And one of the reasons why I decided not to pursue a degree in psychology was because I would have to see clients and do a clinical practicum, and I was really not interested in doing therapy. I was really interested in a research career. So to me, taking courses in therapy and then actually having to see clients as part of a practicum or an internship was something that I really didn't want to focus on or do.

For me it sort of worked out really nicely because I also wanted to have a broad enough knowledge. So I was interested in drug abuse, I was interested in HIV, I was clearly interested in statistics. And it really did fit very nicely because epidemiology has a focus on statistical analyses. And obviously any doctoral program in epidemiology would cover infectious diseases, HIV, psychiatric conditions including drug abuse.

It really did fit nicely, and it worked out really well. After I finished, I was the only epidemiologist at that research center where I was surrounded by clinical and developmental psychologists.

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Excerpted from an interview with researcher at the 2008 National Hispanic Science Network on Drug Abuse Conference in Bethesda, MD.

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