From the CEO
At APA's Annual Convention in August, former APA President Patrick DeLeon, PhD, JD, praised the next generation of psychologists, calling the students he met "enthusiastic" and the residents and interns he visited at Tripler Army Medical Center an outstanding group. "Our future is looking bright," he wrote on the convention blog. Predoctoral psychology intern Joshua Kellison seconded DeLeon's thoughts: "I saw mindfulness in action" as aspiring psychologists worked together to help fellow students overcome travel and housing snafus to get to convention. "This experience has reinforced my pride in this chosen profession," Kellison wrote.
Behind the scenes of such inspiring accounts is the work of the American Psychological Association of Graduate Students (APAGS), APA's student arm. With more than 31,000 members, it is the largest group of organized psychology graduate students worldwide. Here's a look at its most recent initiatives:
- Working to address the internship shortage. APAGS's ultimate goal is to ensure quality in psychology training programs by increasing the number of APA-accredited internships. Among several initiatives, it weighed in on the Commission on Accreditation's initiative to revise the doctoral and internship accreditation process. APAGS advocated for students to be evaluated for their competency, not just for the content they have learned, before they're launched into practice. APAGS also suggested that the commission require students to propose their dissertations before applying for internships and emphasized the importance of fair wages and hours for interns.
- Helping prospective students find the "right" graduate program. APAGS is developing worksheets, online tutorials, live events and other resources to help prospective psychology graduate students compare doctoral programs. The resources — which will guide students to find such key information as programs' internship match and attrition rates — will also offer questions future students can ask programs so that they will know what to expect before they accept an admission offer.
- Launching a collaborative journal. Come 2015, APAGS will publish Translational Issues in Psychological Science, the first APA journal to bring together graduate students with experienced psychologists in its editorial process. The journal has a twofold mission: to publish research from multiple viewpoints on timely topics in psychological science and to give graduate students experience with journal article reviewing and editing.
- Supporting diversity among students and clients. The APAGS Committee on LGBT Concerns published two YouTube training videos that offer graduate students evidence-based tips and peer-to-peer suggestions related to gender and sexual minority concerns, such as when and how to disclose sexual orientation to clients and what to consider when conducting research with transgender communities. APAGS is also overhauling its resource guide for LGBT graduate students and expanding its mentoring program that pairs them with professionals and advanced student mentors.
- Advocating for lower-interest loans. Along with APA's Education Directorate, APAGS led a grassroots email campaign designed to reach the U.S. Congress, calling for fairer interest rates on graduate student loans. With more than 4,000 responses, this issue-advocacy campaign was one of the widest-reaching in APA's history.
- Engaging students on multiple platforms. With nearly 10,000 "likes" on Facebook, more than 5,900 members on LinkedIn and more than 3,700 followers on Twitter, APAGS is reaching more students than ever. Each social network — in addition to gradPSYCH magazine and its free app — keeps students up to date on APAGS's work and the latest psychology news, offers tips for life in grad school such as dealing with student debt or profiling "hot jobs," and encourages a culture of leadership in psychology by highlighting ways students can get involved.
Every generation of psychologists has its challenges, but under APAGS's leadership, today's students are addressing them head on — and making our field proud.
To learn more about APAGS's initiatives, go to APAGS.
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