I hope that you all do not mind if I do not share my name because I want to have a real conversation without any judgements. I recently received my PhD in school psychology from an APA-accredited program. In addition, I completed my internship at an APA-accredited site. I wanted to complete my postdoctoral fellowship immediately following internship, but decided to take a school psychology position because the pay was much better. Besides, I need to pay off some school loans and take care of my family. Therefore, I did not apply for a postdoc this year. Yet, I would like to apply next year.
I was really interested in the postdoctoral pediatric psychology training programs but felt like I really could not apply because most programs either required a degree in clinical or counseling psychology and/or an internship in a hospital. I met neither of these requirements. I completed a practicum experience in the hospital but it seems that does not count. Even though my dissertation was on a health-related topic, I am not certain that will get me in the door.
At the doctoral level, school psych students have to be exposed to pretty much the same type of education and training as the other fields (at least I thought) and we have to know additional information about the school systems. Is there something that the other programs are getting that we do not get? Or, is there a perception that we are not getting enough training? If so, what can I do at this late time to be considered a candidate for a pediatric psychology fellowship? Or the programs and/or training directors not communicating with each other about what graduate students in the three program areas are learning and being trained to do in the field?
Should students in school psychology programs not accept internships in the school setting because it could keep them from being trained in other settings later on? With the shortage of internship positions, you cannot be too picky. What site you end up in is the luck of the draw. I did not know when I selected school psychology that it would seem so limiting. I actually thought that it was all encompassing because we have access to the kids and the adults in their lives like no other setting. In fact, I am very proud of this degree. However, I think that people trained in other program areas have a limited perspective of what we have been trained to do.
The other thing that I am noticing is the trend towards requiring a 2-year postdoc. In fact, a couple of months ago, I even noticed a position requiring a 3-year commitment. While this may seem nice, the pay remains below $40,000 for most of these positions even after the first year. After years of being in school and accumulating student debt, I was hoping that there would be some financial relief after receiving the PhD and completing the one year postdoc experience. Is there some change in the field in terms of the thinking that perhaps an internship and a 1-year postdoc are not sufficient to do the work of a professional psychologist? I know that students are not always at the table when these decisions are made, but if someone can speak to this it would be appreciated.
In the meantime, I will be working as a school psychologist which only requires a masters-level degree and will make close to $80,000. I know it is not about the money, but when you have school loans to pay it kind of boils down to it. So, if anyone can speak to this trend towards longer training and the benefits to the trainees, I would appreciate it. I’m sure there is more from the perspectives of training sites that I am not aware of because I am not there yet.