The American Psychological Association of Graduate Students (APAGS) is committed to ending the internship crisis. We believe that the imbalance between the number of students seeking an internship and the number of internship positions, particularly accredited internships, is unacceptably high. Students are deeply affected by this crisis, whether or not they match. The good news? There are many ways you can be a part of the solution by bringing attention to the issue and advancing change.
The following video presents data and personal reactions to the internship crisis, discusses the importance of high-quality internship training for APAGS members, and offers a call to the psychology community for greater awareness, advocacy and action to ensure the availability of internships for students in clinical, counseling and school psychology doctoral programs.
Advocacy, Awareness and Action Steps
- Share this page with at least five people. Post it on social media or send the link by email to colleagues (e.g., internship training directors, doctoral directors of clinical training, leaders in your state psychological association, colleagues in your department or agency, and graduate students).
- Sign a pledge to stay active and aware about the internship crisis.
- Join the APAGS internship-focused action Listserv™ and contribute your ideas.
- Hold a brown-bag lunch or summit with your colleagues and/or students on the internship crisis, the local landscape for training, and challenges and opportunities to help bring more positions to qualified students in need. Brainstorm new ways to work together and take action.
- Talk candidly with doctoral students about the crisis. For example, hold regular meetings about internship preparation with students from their first year of entry into the program. Learn from your students. Check in about any stressors or experiences they may be going through, relevant to attaining an internship.
- Help students attend APA’s annual convention where they can meet internship training directors and attend a four-hour workshop on internship preparation through APAGS.
- Advocate for Medicaid/insurance reimbursement for trainees. This could happen at the state level in concert with the advocacy and policy team of your state psychological association and/or through consultation with your agency or hospital’s billing and Medicaid/Insurance compliance office(s) if your state already allows this possibility. APA is developing a toolkit with a state-by-state report of permissibility to seek intern service reimbursement, examples and action steps. Until the toolkit is available, please feel free to consult with Sharon Berry, PhD, member of APA’s Board of Educational Affairs, who has advised internship sites for several years on this issue.
- Request continued and expanded federal monies to support internship training through the Graduate Psychology Education (GPE) program and the Mental and Behavioral Education and Training (MBHET) program.
- Advocate for state investment in internships as other states have recently done. For example, Nebraska passed a law in April 2014 that would require the state to fund at least five interns per year, and up to 10 within three years. Alaskan education authorities banded together to form a consortium with continued funding.
- Advocate for private foundations to invest in mental health and intern services. For example, Texas’s Hogg Foundation funded $3.2 million to develop six APA-accredited internship sites and two consortia in the state.
- Work with your state psychological association to develop a position statement about the internship crisis and short- and long-range goals to address it. For guidance, you can refer to the nuanced APAGS position statement (further described in a 2014 journal article). Leading to the adoption of a position statement, consider (a) a state snapshot on the internship crisis with variables such as the number of sites and positions lost/gained over time, the number of yearly internship applicants from doctoral programs in the state, the number of accredited versus nonaccredited programs and so forth; and (b) holding a state stakeholder meeting to address the data and begin to shape an official position or policy.
- Advise student advocacy groups on campuses, at internship programs and/or at the state and regional levels about the internship crisis. Assist students to mobilize strong responses for the development of more training positions.
- Help start an internship. There are three types: affiliated (an internship that solely or partially admits interns from a specific doctoral program), independent (a single site open to all qualified applicants) and consortia (multi-site training partnerships). For resources, consult the Psychology Internship Development Toolkit online or via PDF (334KB), as well as key articles listed on the further reading tab, and the request for mentorship through APPIC. If you are interested in exploring the consortium path, please contact APAGS, which will work to connect you with someone for advice.
- If you do start an internship, be a mentor to colleagues and help them get started. Consider disseminating strategies, materials and more. APAGS would be happy to highlight your story through its blog; email us.
- If you are part of an unaccredited internship site, consider applying for a grant from APA to expand the number of accredited internship positions and to promote quality training for professional practice.
- If you are an internship training director, consider the possibilities of adding an additional internship spot, which may be even more viable if your site can seek reimbursement for intern services.
- If you teach in a doctoral program, consider how your program may be contributing to or alleviating the internship crisis, and bolster efforts for continued improvement in match rates at the local level.