APAGS is participating in a variety of initiatives to promote students' interests. They include:
Advancing education and training. APAGS was a critical force on the Commission on Education and Training Leading to Licensure in Psychology, which developed recommendations to modify training and education leading to licensure in psychology in ways that address student concerns of quality training, preparedness for independent practice, difficulties in obtaining postdoctoral training and debt issues. (For more information about the commission, visit the APAGS Web site.)
APAGS is also playing a key role in the first Education Leadership Conference, sponsored by APA's Board of Educational Affairs and Education Directorate, to be held this fall in Washington, D.C.
In addition, APAGS is developing guidelines to help students make good decisions about applying to graduate programs that match their needs and interests. These guidelines, anticipated to be ready for distribution by next year's convention, will address issues related to cost, quality of training, financial support, accreditation, length of training, supervision, advising, research opportunities, mentoring and more.
Helping students plan their careers. With the help of APA's Committee for the Advancement of Professional Practice and the Practice Directorate, APAGS is compiling the content from the very successful convention program, "Beyond the therapy room: creative thinking about your practice options," into a handbook for students and early-career psychologists. The book belies the myths about the future of professional practice for psychologists, while providing realistic strategies for creating a thriving career as a practitioner. This publication should be available early next year.
Similarly, APAGS is working with the Advisory Committee on Colleague Assistance to develop a resource related to student prevention and wellness, with an emphasis on self-care, also due to be released early next year.
Promoting the science. APAGS is working with APA's Science Directorate and Science Student Council to support the "Decade of Behavior," a series of events and activities that promote behavioral science to the public. APAGS is also working to increase the voice and opportunities for bench science students in the association.
Participating in advocacy training. For the past several years, APAGS has participated in the Practice Directorate's State Leadership Conference, which trains state leaders in legislative advocacy skills while briefing them on psychology's legislative agenda. The conference culminates in visits to elected representatives on Capitol Hill to advocate for legislation that is favorable for psychology and those psychologists serve. Sixteen APAGS members actively participated in this year's conference and continue to assist in advancing psychology's integrated advocacy agenda.
Promoting diversity. APAGS is trying to help students understand and assess what constitutes quality training in multiculturalism and diversity, so they can advocate within their programs for such training to be offered. APAGS is already consulting and working with a variety of groups on this initiative and hopes to have a document for distribution by next year's convention. APAGS is also interested in increasing the pipeline of diverse students, as well as awareness of diversity issues in psychology as a whole.
Getting feedback from members. APAGS is developing online surveys for students to assess satisfaction with APAGS and to obtain information about student needs and issues, on an ongoing and targeted basis. With the assistance of APA's research office, this data will enable APAGS to more precisely represent the collective voice of students and develop resources and programs that target their evolving and specific needs.
Mentoring and self-care. APAGS is committed to promoting mentoring and has embraced student self-care as a priority. As such, additional materials related to mentoring and self-care are being developed.
Seeking a stronger voice in APA. In coming months, APAGS will ask APA's Council of Representatives for a voting seat on APA's Board of Directors, which would also provide an automatic full voting seat for APAGS on Council. An APAGS representative currently attends the Board of Director's meetings, but is not permitted to be present for all board discussions, and is not able to vote. An APAGS Representative also attends Council meetings, but does not vote, and is only able to speak on the floor of Council with special permission. APAGS believes that student presence is helpful, but having a student vote increases the legitimacy of the student's voice in decision-making and priority setting for organized psychology.
Expanding convention offerings for students. Based on students' feedback, APAGS is advocating for more integrated student programming at future conventions, including more practical training, opportunities for networking and socializing. During APA's 2001 Annual Convention last month, APAGS offered its second Pre-Convention In-Depth Internship Workshop to rave reviews. Because students have found the workshop's workbook to be uniquely helpful and informative, it is offered for sale for a small fee between workshops. Another popular symposium will also be turned into a workbook: "Internet-based psychology experimentation: what you need to know," presented by the most distinguished authorities in this area.
Advocating on behalf of psychology. APAGS's Advocacy Coordinating Team (ACT) is continuing to focus on legislation that affects psychology, including patients' rights, mental health parity and prescription privileges. ACT manages a network of 300 APAGS Campus Representatives nationwide through its six Regional Advocacy Coordinators and 51 State Advocacy Coordinators. ACT State Advocacy Coordinators work closely with the state psychological associations to respond to state and federal legislative calls for action. The students work closely with state advocacy leaders, as well as with the APA Practice Directorate and Public Policy Office.
Increasing multiculturalism in psychology. APAGS's Committee on Ethnic Minority Affairs (CEMA) is continuing work to promote visibility, representation, recruitment and retention of ethnic-minority students by sponsoring regional multicultural training events through an annual small grant program. This year, grants have been provided to the New York City SAMMI colloquium at Pace University, the "Latino Psychology: bridging our diversity" conference in San Antonio, "Assessing multiculturalism: expanding the bounds of competence" in Los Angeles, and "Building bridges: creating connections with first nations students" in South Dakota. CEMA has also added Regional Diversity Coordinator positions to its ranks to increase the presence of and mentoring opportunities for students with diverse backgrounds. They help students organize local networking events, and they plan to develop a program for student-run diversity support groups. APAGS is also working on developing a multicultural Mentor Network that will help graduate students pursue diversity-related research interests, even if there is no faculty mentor at their respective university.
Addressing the needs of students with disabilities. APAGS's Committee on Students With Disabilities (CSWD) is bringing the issues that students with disabilities face to the forefront and has advocated for fair and appropriate accommodation in academic, training and leadership environments. The group's outreach efforts continue to assess the needs of students with visible and invisible disabilities, and educate and sensitize all students about the needs of students with disabilities. In addition, CSWD emphasizes the significant contributions to psychology these students make. With APA's Committee on Disability Issues in Psychology, CSWD is creating a guidebook for graduate students and faculty that addresses appropriate accommodation for students with disabilities, as well as how to interpret the Americans with Disabilities Act, due out next spring.
Advocating on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students. APAGS's Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Concerns was recently successful in adding "transgender" to its name in an effort to include individuals with different sexual orientations and gender identification. In addition to providing convention programming and a listserv for LGBT students, the committee has also been working on a LGBT student-needs assessment survey and has been developing a national mentoring program for LGBT students.
Gathering data. APAGS is participating in "PracticeNet," the Internet-based data collection infrastructure being developed by APA's Practice Directorate. The system is open to APAGS members who are seeing clients in various practica settings, as well as new professionals who are not yet licensed. PracticeNet is scheduled for full implementation this fall, and further opportunities for student involvement will be announced at that time.