Correction (9:00pm): Due to an editorial mistake, not the author’s, the Phase I match rate was reported in the original post to be 90%. The actual figure is 82% and has been corrected below. The 90% figure represents the possibility of all students who submitted rank lists matching to all available positions after the completion of APPIC Phases I, II, and the Post Match Vacancy Service; however, a small number of positions historically remain unfilled each year. We regret the error.
Today is the day. The day that students enrolled in clinical, counseling, and school psychology programs have been anxiously and excitedly anticipating for months. Today is “Match Day” for internship, the culmination of a journey from applications to interviews to ranking…to waiting.
For many students, the process itself is wrought with complicated emotions, financial stress, and moments of both triumph and struggle. The match today will mean celebration for many students as they reap the rewards of their hard work. Even for some who did match, conflicting emotions may emerge as they consider the implications of moving away from friends, families, partners, and in some cases children, to complete their training. For others, it is a day of disappointment and heartache as they receive the news that they did not match and are forced to face the difficult decision of how to move forward.
The internship crisis continues to be a huge concern for many graduate students in psychology. For those who might not be familiar with this issue, trainees are required to obtain a doctoral internship to satisfy graduation and licensure requirements. Yet, there are not enough internship positions to meet demand.
In 2013 and 2014, the crisis has demonstrated some overall improvement. There have been significant efforts on behalf of many in the education and training communities to influence our numbers, including internship stimulus funds, partnering with colleagues creatively to create new sites, and other efforts. The data from 2015 again show improvement. This is the great dialectic of our time: There has been improvement, and yet we can and must do better.
The 2015 Phase I match statistics, released today, show the following:
- 4,247 students entered the match, with 3,928 completing the process and submitting a rank-order list
- 3,684 positions were available in the match, including 2,732 accredited positions
- 3,239 students matched to any internship site in Phase I of the match
- 2,600 students matched an accredited internship site in Phase I
Taken together, the 2015 match rate for all applicants to the match in Phase I is 82% (up from 80% in 2014). Meanwhile, the rate for all applicants to an an APA- or CPA- accredited internship in Phase I is 66% (up from 62% in 2014). There is more work to be done.
The 2015 match rate in Phase I is 82% (up from 80% in 2014); it is 66% for applicants to APA- and CPA-accredited internships (up from 62%).
An important note: APPIC data at Phase I tells just some of the story. When we look at the crisis as it relates to only students from APA accredited doctoral programs going to accredited internships (source), the numbers show small signs of improvement. We don’t yet have the latest data from APA’s Commission on Accreditation, but from 2011 to 2014 we can see some modest gains:
||Match rate of students from APA-accredited doc programs to any internship
||Match rate of students from APA-accredited doc programs to APA-accredited internships
Another dialectic—improvement, but not enough.
The Crisis Continues
The fact that 34% of students from accredited programs — that were deemed to be ready for internship by their programs — did not match to an accredited site should be a concern for all in the training community. This is not just a problem for training programs or internship sites. It is the responsibility of the psychology community at large to address this issue for the future of our profession.
As APAGS past-chair Jennifer Doran highlighted last year, there is so much more to the match than the data. The emotional toll, financial stress, and consequences of not matching weigh heavily. To advocates, the data matters. To individual students, these factors will count for more than any compiled statistic when describing the internship crisis.
What is APAGS Doing?
The crisis remains a key issue that APAGS collaborates with key stakeholders to address. We have tirelessly advocated for efforts that address the crisis and are partnering with others in the training community to find innovative ways to address the crisis. Some of the highlights of our efforts and advocacy include:
- Last year, APAGS produced a video highlighting multiple aspects of the crisis in addition to advocacy, awareness and action steps students and psychologists can take to end the crisis. We need you to help spread the message in this video.
- APAGS partnered with APA Past-President Nadine Kaslow, Ph.D. and others in the training community during the 2014 APA Convention to present innovative solutions to the crisis. We are currently working toward ways to implement the ideas presented during this panel.
- APAGS supported the passage of APA’s Internship Stimulus Package in 2012, providing $3 million in grant funding to increase the number of accredited internship positions. As of December 2014, this money resulted in 10 internship programs receiving accreditation, 27 internship programs with pending accreditation, and at least 57 internship positions. Remaining funds will also be allocated toward further creative efforts in ameliorating the crisis, including helping states seek Medicaid reimbursement for intern services.
- APAGS formed an Internship Working Group to analyze and promote solutions to the internship crisis. In July 2012, APAGS released a policy and expanded response to explain how it will continue to advocate on multiple fronts for graduate students.
- APAGS has compiled some of its actions since 2000 to mitigate this problem, and further describes its latest actions in a 2014 journal article.
- APAGS and other departments in APA are developing a toolkit of resources to help psychology training programs advocate for Medicaid reimbursement for intern. This may help entice the creation of and funding for more internship positions.
- APAGS staff attend several regional psychology conferences each year to teach prospective grad students how to decipher publicly available data related to internship match and 14 other factors. We also produced a recorded webinar on this topic.
- APAGS is attending the annual meetings of many psychology training councils to promote the development of new internships.
What the Future Holds
The trends have been positive over the last few years, but change has continued to be slow. There is no simple solution to the crisis. We know it will require multifaceted and creative solutions to continue the trend in a positive direction. There is much that trainees and psychologists alike can do to make a difference. The links I’ve shared, particularly to our video (which I’ll embed below) provide steps individuals at all levels can take today to make a difference for next year and future students.
APAGS would like to congratulate the students and programs celebrating today’s match results. We commend you on your accomplishments. You might wonder what to do now that you have matched, and APAGS has resources for you.
APAGS would also like to extend support for those of you who received disappointing news and did not match today. We have resources and support for you as well. For our colleagues and friends who did not match today, we as a psychology community need to offer them our support and encouragement.
The dialectic of change is that it is difficult and necessary. We have already made positive change, and APAGS is working to continue to advocate for students and ameliorate the crisis. I would like to encourage everyone, regardless of your outcome, to share your story, in the comments section, on our Facebook page, or personally. Please contact me or APAGS staff with your thoughts, ideas, and concerns. We are here to support you. Together, we can all make change.