The Problem: As graduate students, we were extremely tired of reading, each year, the statements that everyone is concerned about the match ‘imbalance’. While about 80% of the applicants match the first time, there are clear steps that can and should be taken immediately to resolve this issue for the other 20% (678 people who withdrew or did not match in 2015). We have sent these guidelines and solutions to APA, APAGS, APPIC and other indifferent bureaucratic organizations, but all have resulted in blocked emails, deleted messages/comments/ access to social media, and recent suspicious hacking attempts.
Psychology students in doctoral programs have developed a false sense of hope that APA/APAGS/APPIC will enforce certain aspirations to make the internship ‘imbalance’ just go away. They haven’t, and they will not do anything. Why? We are guessing it is not in line with their true financial and political interests, and quite frankly they have no legislative power whatsoever to enforce anything. Although APA (e.g. APAGS) is a self-proclaimed “voice of graduate students within APA for the next generation of psychologists” all they do is post silly general psychology articles that can be found anywhere else online.“We’re working on it” is a common politically correct response. Meanwhile, everyone seems to be blaming others, yet nothing seems to change year after year.
The Real Solution: Get rid of the internship all together. The original reason for internships was to have students undergo intense clinical training after completing their coursework. Most students now come out of their doctoral programs with significant clinical experience. Now, you really need to be trained (lots of practicum hours) in order to get trained again on internship. It’s crazy to hear that, many of us were advised to play it safe–to apply to sites that are “good matches,” meaning to apply to sites that are offering experiences we’ve already had. For what? We have not seen one well-reasoned argument anywhere about why the internship year is still necessary. Excellent opportunity, yes. Necessary, no. In fact, there are more than 12 states today without post-doctoral hour requirements–that means we can attain licensure with our current/extensive supervised clinical experience.
Beneficence: Relaxing the need to complete an internship, will allow students to successfully get their degrees and graduate as a PhD or PsyD. They will then exercise their option to move ahead and pursue ‘post-doctoral’ clinical training for remaining hours to get licensed (if needed in their state). Or they could pursue another career pathway that does not require additional clinical practice, such as academia, researcher, administration, etc. That will alleviate the applicant pool difference.
More Potential Solutions:
- Reduce the barriers for new programs to obtain accreditation: particularly time, cost, and lots of paperwork. APA should reevaluate the accreditation process so that it may occur in a shorter period of time. We do no suggest that standards for accreditation should be lowered. But honestly, we would fully support and endorse a call for removal of APA accreditation entirely. Strike the process and move to APPIC member only for the post-doc suggestion.
- Get rid of the National Matching System. They charge about $130+ each applicant for a number in the algorithm. That’s more than half-million $dollars$ last year at our expense. We can get someone tonight to run the same algorithm with an app for a fraction of that. No respect for whoever made that deal with NMS at our expense.
- Internship Programs (like this month, July 2015): Hold optional open houses, or conduct phone interviews or Skype interviews. As your are quite aware, applicants are vulnerable and pay for plane tickets, hotels, rental cars/cabs, plus other travel costs to interview with you–the least reliable predictor of job performance. That’s an expensive price for us to pay for your self-serving bias–you have extensive information from applicants records to make an informed ranking list. Kuddos to numerous counseling programs for taking this initiative already. Respect.
- Simply put, either make it easier to become an internship site, or make life easier on the applicant. You all seem more interested in getting money for programs than you are for helping our future psychologists.
P.S. -If we care to protect our profession and the public we must do something no one has ever done before. We are calling out the APA, APAGS, APPIC, NMS to have serious discussion so we can take action to help the next generation of psychologists.