APA awarded an average of $20,000 to 32 internship programs in December to help them gain APA accreditation. The awards were the first round of APA's "internship stimulus package," a program approved last August by the APA Council of Representatives that set aside a $3 million pool over three years to help qualified, nonaccredited internship programs take all the steps necessary to become APA-accredited. The grants can be used to pay for application and site visit fees, program consultation, administrative and supervisor support, intern stipends and benefits, and other costs of seeking accreditation.
The stimulus "reflects APA's commitment to helping programs go through a quality-assurance mechanism so that we know that our students are graduating from programs that have met the standards of the profession in the same way as students in other health professions," says APA Executive Director for Education, Cynthia Belar, PhD.
That's important for overall training purposes, for protection of trainee rights, and for students' job prospects post-internship, she notes. Many institutions, including the Department of Veterans Affairs, will not hire students who have completed internships that aren't accredited by APA.
The awards should make a solid contribution toward righting the internship imbalance, potentially adding 150 programs and 520 new internship positions over the three-year period, adds Jackie Tyson, the APA Education Directorate's associate executive director for administration and the lead staff person for the project. In the 2012 internship match, 22 percent of 4,067 psychology doctoral students were not matched at all, and nearly 20 percent were matched in unaccredited internships, according to statistics from the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers.
"It's really exciting to be a part of an effort to promote quality training for psychologists and to help more programs gain APA accreditation," Tyson says.
For more on the internship stimulus program, see the March Monitor.