Career Profile: Psychologist

psychologist purple and pink plasma ball
Photo by Hal Gatewood on Unsplash

Name:   Dr. Ron Clavier

Career/Title: Psychologist

Education: B.Sc., M.A., Ph.D. (Psychology)

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Medical Doctor.

What was the first thing that you were ever paid to do?


What was your favourite subject in high school?

Biology. I loved ART, but this was not available, as I was in the Latin-Science program. I also acted in school plays and decided I might try acting as a career.

Did you continue to study it in post-secondary school?


Which post-secondary school did you attend? 

McGill University.

What was the name of your program/degree? 

Major in Psychology.

How many years did it take you to complete it?


Did you ever change (or consider changing) programs?

Yes. I changed from medicine to graduate school in Psychology.

When you think about your college/university experience, is there a particular memory that comes to mind?

  • I got a lead role in McGill’s original musical theatre show “The Red and White Review”. One of the chorus girls caught my eye, and we began dating. That was 45 years ago. We’re still dating (married, actually).
  • I loved everything about biology, but especially the study of the mind.

What was your favourite part about your post-secondary experience? Least favourite?

  • My favourite courses had nothing to do with science. They were comparative religion and ancient art & archaeology.
  • My least favourite courses were the driest at the time: chemistry and physics. But I needed them to become a brain scientist, so I endured.

When you graduated, did you find a job right away?

I didn’t have the marks to apply to graduate school after my 4 years at McGill. I stayed on for a year, improving my grades and working at the local hospital to earn my keep. I also became a teaching assistant in psychology and a research assistant to one of the neuroscience professors.

Was your first job out of school related to your degree? Was it something that you had expected to do?

I did a post-doctoral fellowship in Biochemical Psychiatry at UBC. I was then immediately hired to be an Assistant Professor of Anatomy and Psychology at Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago. At 28, I was the youngest person ever to be hired at that level in a tenure-track position. This was especially sweet because I was not an MD, and I had never taken a course in Anatomy.

How many jobs have you had since graduation?


Which of your skills do you find to be the most helpful in your line of work?

  • I am now a clinician, author, and educator. My neuroscience background prepares me for each of these very well.
  • I am also a professional artist (oil painting). My knowledge of human anatomy permits me to do figurative work with great pleasure.

What is one skill that you wish you possessed?


Does your job involve travel? How far would you travel/move for a job?

  • I am asked to give lectures and workshops around the world.
  • I am now settled in Toronto, but my training took me from Montreal to Chicago to Vancouver to Chicago to Vancouver to Toronto.

What advice would you give to students who are interested in pursuing similar opportunities?

Ask yourself what is wrong with the world. Then, get off your ass and make it better. 

What do you see yourself doing ten years from now?

  • Professionally: Full-time artist and lecturer
  • Personally: Married, enjoying my grandchildren, gardening, etc.

If you could go back to the end of high school and do things over again, would you change anything?

I’d take a course in art. 

What do you wish you had known in high school, before you began to pursue your education/career?

The equation that physicists use to describe “work” is: 


This seemed trivial at the time, but it is where all career counselling should begin.

Define the job that you need to do before being convinced in high school to obtain the tools (i.e., courses) that you must have.

To do this, search yourself and decide what it is that makes you personally sad or angry or confused. The answer to that defines your passion. Turn this into a question about what is wrong in the world. Go to school with the zeal of a searcher, and seek ways to make the world a better place.

Then, you will know what tools (courses, etc.) you will need, and use your FORCE (knowledge, skill, etc.) to move the world to a better place.

You will never question your choice of occupation if you use your energy to displace something that is in the wrong place.