Saturday, July 20, 2013

An Analysis of the Match Crisis in Clinical Psychology Internships: A 15 Year Perspective

Thomas DuVall, Student, School of Psychology; Kimberly Hutchinson, Student, School of Psychology; Lawrence Dilks, Clinical Neuropsychologist, Counseling Services of SWLA; Burton Ashworth, Student, School of Psychology; Lisa Hubbard, Student, School of Psychology; Sattaria Dilks, Associate Professor/Director ICMSN, McNeese State University; Jacqueline Bourassa, Student, McNeese State University

As this year’s cohort of graduate students search for an internship, they face a daunting task. The number of applicants has risen steadily over the years, but the number of internship positions has not kept pace with the need. Despite years of training and preparation, a significant number of applicants will face the disappointment of not “matching” to an internship site. This imbalance has been identified as a crisis in the field of psychology that affects not only students, but also the profession as a whole. The purpose of this poster is to increase awareness of both the critical nature of the intern-internship imbalance and to acknowledge the long-term occurrence of this issue.

APPIC/APA data was reviewed related to APPIC applicants and available psychology internship placements. Relevant literature on the history of the match imbalance was reviewed. Data was summarized and compared across cohorts. APPIC match statistics from 1999 – 2013; APPIC applicant post-match survey; APA report; APA internship development toolkit. Over the last 15 years the mean shortfall between available positions and number of applicants seeking internship was 18.6%. However, this number masks the disparity between the steadily increasing number of applications compared to the slower growth of positions to accommodate the clinical training component required for doctoral degree completion. The average shortfall of internship positions from 1999 through 2003 was 13.78%. This is a marked difference from the most recent 5 year period from 2009 through 2013 of 23.2%.

The internship imbalance has reached crisis proportions. Although there are no easy solutions, application of creative approaches and involvement of the psychological community could potentially alleviate the shortage. As a profession, we have an ethical obligation to collegial cooperation and advocating for the care and development of our own. We have long known about the internship imbalance crisis. We have identified areas to be addressed, as well as the challenges to addressing the shortage. Perhaps by shifting the focus to the local level, we will continue to creatively implement solutions in the present as the debate continues on the growth management issues of our profession’s future.

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