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Seven psychology programs nationwide were awarded $1.2 million in grants by the federal Bureau of Health Professions to lure more psychology students to work with older adults.

The awards, part of the federal Graduate Psychology Education (GPE) Program, offer psychology departments and training sites funding to create or expand training programs that prepare students to specialize in geropsychology. GPE recipients will use the grants, which run through September 2006, to support trainee stipends, faculty salaries and curriculum development in various clinical and research settings.

The awards come at a key time: The number of adults with mental disorders and behavioral health problems in 2030 is expected to reach 15 million-four times the number in 1970, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Despite those increasing numbers, only a small number of graduate students choose a career in geropsychology, says Nina Levitt, EdD, APA's director of education policy. Levitt says she believes that these federal funds will help reverse that trend by creating more training opportunities in geropsychology.

Deborah DiGilio, who heads up APA's Office on Aging, adds that she hopes the training programs will be able to use the grants to show students that geropsychology can be an exciting career.

"A lot of students are under this preconceived notion that when you work with older adults you only deal with issues like dementia, death or dying," DiGilio says. "But there are a lot of exciting areas in both research and practice in working with older adults. The diversity of these awards-in terms of geographic location, training settings and subpopulations of older adults served-reflects the diversity in older adults."

-M. DITTMANN


 

For geropsychology training and career information, visit APA's Div. 20 (Adult Development and Aging) Web site at http://aging.ufl.edu/apadiv20 or Div. 12 (Society of Clinical Psychology)-Section II (Clinical Geropsychology) at http://bama.ua.edu/~appgero.