NYC Allied Health Jobs in Psych w/ no experience

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Hey Allnurses ūüĎč, longtime lurker/pre-nursing student, here's my first post.

Me: mid-30-something career switcher who will be PCT-certified (CNA + EKG/Phlebotomy) in about 6 weeks. I've been a self-employed dog-walker for 8 years now. I have no previous healthcare experience, but I know very strongly that I belong in outpatient psychiatry.

I'm on a tight timeline to apply to direct entry-NP + a few ABSN programs in October + November. (Listen, I get the animosity towards direct-entry MSNs, I really do, but please, save it for another post). I want to demonstrate to these admissions teams that I'm committed to psych patients and work fluidly with them, but volunteering in inpatient psych wards is not a thing. Volunteerwise: I have 100+ hours as a crisis counselor w/ Crisis Textline + 50 hours at a soup kitchen. The soup kitchen has been my first real in-person experience with the psychiatric pop and I love it. (Except for the reality that so many psych patients are homeless)

And I'm now realizing that getting hospital/inpatient jobs in NYC (including psych tech jobs) w/o 1-2 previous experience (or healthcare-specific volunteer work) or w/o connections is extremely difficult. Also getting accepted (+ being awarded decent grant aid) to a reputable direct-entry brick n' mortar PMHNP program (e.g. Vanderbilt, UoR, Northeastern, MGH, Yale, Northeastern, etc.) likely won't happen unless I've got previous psych or psychiatric experience, regardless how crazy strong my GPA prereqs/GRE scores/essay writing might happen to be.

So NYC people:

1. Are there job opportunities in the city within outpatient psych/addiction clinics/etc. for PCT-type work? (I would take any PCT, CNA, EKG or Phleb position)

2.  Should I just take a non-psych PCT-type position, and then try to switch to a psych/behavioral health position once I can put some healthcare XP on my CV? (note: Patient Care Associates at NYCHHC must work 6 months before switching departments, so this would be for a private hospital/healthcare company. October is 5 months away.)

3. Should I take a non-psych PCT-type work and do psych volunteering on the side? Is there outpatient psych volunteer work that I haven't thought of?