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Meet the Candidates! Member-at-Large, Education Focus

300VoteIt’s election season for APAGS! The voting period for APAGS elections will be the entire month of April. APAGS members will be provided with voting instructions in the beginning of April and will have the chance to vote for the following positions:

  • APAGS Chair-Elect
  • APAGS Member-at-Large, Education Focus
  • APAGS Member-at-Large, Communications Focus

This blog post is the first in a series of posts where candidates for the above-mentioned positions will answer questions to give voters some insight into what they will bring to the position for which they are running.

Member-at-Large, Education Focus

Question: If you weren’t studying psychology, what other career would you pursue and why? 

 Jake Nota – If I wasn’t going to be a clinical psychologist… Oh trust me, at some particularly trying moments in graduate school I’ve certainly thought about it! While I’ve continued to reaffirm my choice to pursue psychology, I also enjoy working with computers. My lab mates know that I am always the first to volunteer for programming computerized tasks or automating some process of our data collection and organization. I find the problem solving aspect of coding and the iterative testing and tweaking to be really satisfying. I also get a kick out of using technology to improve the types of research questions we can address. In an alternative life I think it could be fun to build on those skills and work as a computer scientist. Or, you know, open a dog training business with my fiancé. Where better to apply our knowledge of conditioning and learning!

Eric Samuels – Psychology is actually my third career. After undergrad, I worked on a political campaign. I grew up with a Jewish religious faith that valued social justice and political engagement. And while I enjoyed working to elect a political candidate that I believed in, I realized that I wanted to work more directly with people to help them with their issues. From there, I decided to go into a career in Higher Education & Student Affairs to help young adults develop holistically during their time in college. I grew a lot while in college, and I desired to help others to do so. I found this work to be exciting, and I enjoyed developing personal relationships with college students. However, this work got me interested in becoming a psychologist, so I decided to pursue a doctorate. Therefore, if I wasn’t studying psychology, then I’d work in politics or with college students.

Blaire C. Schembari – I would pursue a career in veterinarian medicine and own/operate a non-profit animal rescue. In addition, I would advocate for animal rights—working with government agencies to push for tougher laws against animal abuse and neglect. Anyone who knows me knows I love animals, especially my little pound puppy, Abby. As an only child, my parents allowed me to have and care for a “zoo” of pets (birds, fish, rabbits, cats, and dogs). As I reflect on why animals mean so much to me, I consider the nature of my relationships with them. A relationship with an animal is one of the purest forms of loyalty between two beings. I care for my animals physically and they care for me emotionally. I would be honored to have a career focused on enhancing the lives of animals, just as they enhance mine.

Question: APAGS is doing a lot regarding the internship crisis. Which of these strategies outlined in our position statement – or something else we did not mention – do you think should be emphasized in the next two years, and how would you hope to work on it if elected? (150 word maximum)

Jake Nota – I am glad the APA takes the internship imbalance seriously. It is tragic that highly capable, achieving, and motivated mental health trainees are being blocked from moving into their careers by no fault of their own. Furthermore, there is an enormous need for well-qualified practitioners to deliver needed evidence-based practices that is not being met. In particular, the APA’s commitment to lobbying for the creation and maintenance of incentives for internship sites that provide top-notch training is a critical endeavor. The clout of the APA and its partners is needed to make clear the importance of these training experiences; especially in this time of major changes to our healthcare system. I am also an advocate for exploring ways of easing the internship bottleneck through collaboration with other healthcare disciplines. For example, psychologists in training on healthcare teams may simultaneously gain needed experience and demonstrate our field’s great value.

Eric Samuels – As the accreditation of graduate programs becomes more linked to whether a certain percentage of a program’s students are matched to an APA or CPA accredited internship program, I believe that graduate programs that have struggled with their match rate will take action to increase it. As an example, my graduate program is creating affiliated internship sites that my program is helping to become APA-accredited as long as the internship positions at these sites are only for students at my program. If given the opportunity to serve in this position, I will work to create more internship positions by advocating for the continuation of the Internship Stimulus Fund, for increased funding of the Graduate Psychology Education program, and for legislation in the states that would make interns eligible for Medicare reimbursement. I will also work with training councils to encourage training sites to pursue accreditation by using the Internship Toolkit.

Blaire C. Schembari – Among APAGS’ outlined solutions/strategies, I strongly believe both enabling more internships to become accredited and supporting state and federal policies to motivate the development of new internships and the expansion of available internship positions are the most worthwhile and impactful to pursue over the next two years. If elected, I will implement the aforementioned strategies by:

(1) Targeting select government representatives to advocate for the advancement of policies at the state and federal levels,

(2) Soliciting accredited internships’ opinions regarding the accreditation process to determine what aspects can be improved, and

(3) Based on these insights, working with the Education Directorate to develop a plan to streamline the accreditation process in order to grow the number of accredited programs.

Finally, I will focus on increasing state and federal funding for internships; therefore, enabling internships to support additional supervisors and more interns—ultimately increasing internship position quantity, while maintaining training quality.

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Be on the look out for the next blog post in this series Meet the Candidates! and be sure to vote in the upcoming APAGS election!