Many psychology students and recent grads say they're anxious about their future careers, particularly in today's rocky economy. But the opportunities are out there for the next generation of practitioners, said Nabil Hassan El-Ghoroury, PhD, at APA's Annual Convention.

At a session on the future of psychology practice, El-Ghoroury, a member of APA's Board of Professional Affairs, outlined several opportunities, including:

  • America's diverse demographics. Culturally competent services are in higher demand as the nation becomes more ethnically and racially diverse. As a result, bilingual psychologists are particularly needed. "I am proud to say that my ability to speak Spanish was a very significant factor in securing my first job," said El-Ghoroury, a pediatric psychologist at a Cleveland, Ohio, hospital.

  • A growing need among service members. With so many returning from war with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries, "the VA is hiring big time," said El-Ghoroury.

  • A greater interest in autism. Thanks to the passage of the Combating Autism Act of 2006, the federal government is spending $1 billion to better understand and treat autism. "This offers psychologists a real possibility of working on autism in the health or education systems," he said.

  • The aging population. Baby boomers are living longer, creating a demand for more services in geropsychology and neuropsychology. Also, among those retirees are psychologists, opening up positions for the next generation of practitioners.

  • Prescription privileges (RxP). With the significant shortage of psychiatrists, particularly in rural areas, psychologists who are appropriately trained to prescribe medications could be in higher demand, said El-Ghoroury. Right now, New Mexico, Louisiana and Guam have laws allowing psychologists to prescribe, but many other states are considering such laws, he said.

The session was sponsored by APA's Board of Professional Affairs.

-S. Martin