Chair's Corner

The internship crisis continues to be a top priority on the APAGS Committee agenda. The data from the 2010 match from the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC) indicate that 846 students did not match to an internship site — that means 23 percent of the 3,669 students who participated in the match didn't get
an internship on the first round.

That's simply unacceptable. For qualified students, not matching to an internship site is not just a problem, it is a crisis. The consequences can be widespread and deleterious, including feeling demoralized, losing potential income by delaying entry into the field and prolonging any personal sacrifices students made to attend graduate school. As we have seen, the internship crisis is a complex and multifaceted problem that does not have a single easy fix. Fortunately, APAGS continues to collaborate with key individuals and organizations to address this crisis and I’m pleased to report that we have made significant strides advocating for the needs of graduate students.

During its fall business meeting, the APAGS Committee held two very important meetings on the topic: One with APA's Board of Educational Affairs and another with the chairs of APPIC and psychology's training councils, including the National Council of Schools and Programs of Professional Psychology, the Council of University Directors of Clinical Psychology, the Council of Directors of School Psychology Programs, and the Council of Chairs of Training Councils. These groups told us that they have made important progress in several ways. One is by developing "mentorships" that will help programs with low match rates improve the match rates of their current students. Another effort is demanding that programs be truthful in their advertising about internship match rates for students applying to doctoral programs in professional psychology. In these meetings, APAGS also advocated developing new internship sites to serve high-need populations, such as those in integrated primary care and in rural areas. We also supported the development of geographic consortiums or captive internships, and fully funded half-time internships.

The APAGS Committee also met with Dr. Carol Goodheart (APA president), Dr. Melba Vasquez (APA president-elect), Dr. Norman Anderson, (APA CEO) and Dr. Michael Honaker (APA deputy CEO) to discuss APAGS issues and the internship crisis. APA leadership’s continued its commitment to the internship crisis. Specifically, Dr. Vasquez provided the APAGS Committee with an overview of her plans to address the internship crisis during her residential year and invited APAGS collaboration.

APAGS is also committed to continue federal advocacy efforts that will improve the internship shortage. Last fall, APAGS sent the largest group of student delegates to date to the APA Education Leadership Conference. Our delegates met with U.S. Congress members to advocate for increased funding for the Graduate Psychology Education program — money that would contribute to both internship and postdoctoral training opportunities. This has been a very successful initiative for APAGS: Our 2009 advocacy efforts resulted in a nearly 50 percent increase for 2010. The U.S. House of Representatives recently proposed raising the 2011 funding by more than 100 percent.

These efforts to address the internship crisis will likely show long-term benefits. In the meantime, APAGS recommends five important steps students can take to maximize their chances of matching:

  • If your program doesn't have formal mentorship on applying for internship, organize a group of students to advocate for such mentorship from your faculty. 

  • When selecting internship sites, remember to emphasize your personal fit and don’t limit yourself geographically. 

  • Attend APAGS internship programming at APA's Annual Convention

  • Encourage your training director to collaborate with local training sites to develop a consortium in your area. An internship development toolkit (PDF, 1.3MB) from the Council of Chairs of Training Councils. 

  • Keep talking about the internship crisis. Educate your faculty, clinical supervisors and graduate school peers
    about the severity of this problem. As long as we continue to discuss the crisis, we will continue to make progress toward bringing it to an end.