Ohio psychology students can now pursue licensure without completing a postdoctoral year, thanks in part to Jess Grayson of Ohio University. Last year, the clinical psychology student spent dozens of hours in the hearing rooms and offices of Ohio's General Assembly in Columbus pushing for legislation to eliminate the requirement that graduate students complete half of their required training hours for licensure during a postdoctoral experience.
Signed into law by Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland (D) early this year, the measure enables students who have accumulated 3,600 hours of supervised clinical work—completed during a yearlong predoctoral internship and advanced practicum training—to apply for licensure. Students can accrue the necessary clinical hours for licensure during their graduate training and internship year, and if needed or desired, a postdoctoral experience.
For her efforts, Grayson received the Karl F. Heiser APA Presidential Award for Advocacy, making her the first student to win the prestigious award.
"I was shocked and very, very flattered and happy to hear that the other two psychologists who worked so tirelessly for this issue also won," says Grayson, who shared the award with Cathy McDaniels-Wilson, PhD, and Ronald Ross, PhD, Ohio psychologists who were also deeply involved in the legislative push through the Ohio Psychological Association.
Grayson, the 2007–08 chair of the Ohio Psychological Association of Graduate Students, attended several APA State Leadership Conferences in Washington, D.C, where she got practical advice about how to advocate on the state level. She then applied that knowledge, testifying before Ohio House and Senate committees on the licensure bill, rallying fellow students to write and call their representatives, and explaining the standards to legislators and staff members.
The experience, says Grayson, taught her the importance of one-on-one meetings with legislators and staff—and the benefits of hanging around after hearings to get feedback on your presentation.
"If you stay after the hearing, supportive legislators will explain, 'Here's what's good, here's what's missing,' so you can improve your testimony for the next time," she says.
Grayson's a natural at legislative politics, says David Hayes, PhD, chair of the Ohio Psychological Association's advocacy committee.
"She was perfect for this because she's a poster child for the reasons why states are making this change in their sequence of training," he says.
Grayson started her own internship at the West Virginia University School of Medicine in July, and she's hoping to apply for licensure next year.
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