Fairleigh Dickinson University has launched a wiki-style search engine for psychology externships in the greater New York metropolitan area. The crowd-sourced website provides application information for about 180 practicum sites — a boon for students looking for clinical experience outside of their programs' offerings, say the site's creators, former FDU student Andreas Michaelides, PhD, and FDU professor Robert McGrath, PhD.
With guidance from their advisors, grad students can complete externships to gain hands-on experience providing therapy to special populations or other clinical experience beyond their programs' offerings. Students and their advisors typically decide upon a series of externships that are relevant to the student's areas of interests, but finding the right programs can be tricky, particularly in larger metropolitan areas where dozens of academic and medical institutions offer hundreds of externship programs.
The FDU wiki replaces the previous method of searching for externships, says Michaelides. "The whole process was really, really scattered. There wasn't any official database to work from — students had to find externships by word-of-mouth and using the department's dingy old binder of externship info, a lot of which was outdated."
Students looking for externships in New York can now search for their area of interest and find relevant externships, including how to apply and the directors' contact info.
Externship program directors maintain their own pages, so administering the wiki takes McGrath only about 15 minutes per week.
"Whenever a new site wants to be added, I set up a page for them," he says.
Since its launch in 2010, the wiki has had some 120,000 hits, and McGrath predicts that it will help more than 600 students find externships this year. It's also become the official source of externship information for all 28 doctoral psychology programs in the New York area. But despite the site's popularity, no other states have copied the idea. "We've had several people express the wish for a wiki for the Philadelphia area, but no one's volunteered yet," McGrath says.
—Alice G. Walton
Interested in starting an externship wiki in your state? Email Robert McGrath.