Tag Archives: APPIC

Match Day 2015: The Dialectic of the Internship Crisis

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 Stats

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:

Internship year 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
2011-2012 83.1% 51.9%
2012-2013 88.8% 54.6
2013-2014 90.1% 57.7%

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.

Stipends vs CPI

Fun with data: Internship Stipends, cost of living, and practicum hours

Many graduate students in clinical, counseling and school psychology programs are preparing applications to internship positions across the country this fall. The internship component has been a requirement to earn a doctoral degree in these programs for decades. And every year the American Psychological Association’s Commission on Accreditation (CoA) collects data on students in accredited doctoral and internship programs.

Let’s have some fun with those data!

The first chart shows the mean and standard deviation of stipends from APA accredited internships from 1998 to 2012. Click the chart to magnify it:

Intern Stipends

Since 1998, the mean stipend for clinical, counseling, and school psychology interns has increased steadily. In fact, the stipends one standard deviation below the mean have increased by almost $5,000. (Source.)

While internship stipends have generally been increasing, do they cover the cost of living? My second chart presents the percent change in the median internship stipend and the percent change in the consumer price index (CPI) from year to year:

Stipends vs CPI

As you can see, the percent change in median stipend amount is greater than the percent change in CPI for some years but not others. It seems that although many stipends cover the cost of living, the percent change in stipend amounts is not always in pace with this marker of inflation (source). The good news? The 1998 mean intern stipend, adjusted for inflation, still beats the amount one would expect to earn in adjusted dollars for 2012 by nearly $1,500.

The percent change in stipend amounts is not always in pace with this marker of inflation.

Beyond stipends, I decided to look at the trends in practicum hours reported by internship applicants. In particular, I wondered if the internship crisis was leading to greater accumulation of hours by students who desire to appear more competitive. This third chart shows practicum hours of applicants from 2006 to 2012, broken into supervision and assessment/intervention categories:

Practicum Hours

It appears that the trends in supervision and in assessment/intervention hours are similar between the APA mean (blue) and APPIC median (red) hours. If we look at the most recent data, it appears that median hours are increasing over time. Students applied to internships with 18% more intervention/assessment hours in the eight years between 2006 and 2013.

It appears that median hours are increasing over time.

(Sources: Mean practicum hours are reported by APA, though public release of data in this area ceased in 2010. Median hours are reported by the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers, or APPIC. It is important to note that APA accredits some doctoral and internship programs, almost all of which send students through the APPIC national match. APPIC data report students from accredited and unaccredited doctoral programs vying for accredited and unaccredited internships.)

Any thoughts on the data I presented? Are you surprised by the trends? Do any possible interpretations come to mind? I welcome you to comment on this post!

How to Ace Your Internship Essays

If you are a clinical, counseling, or school psychology doc student and you’re at bat for the internship application process this fall, you naturally want to knock your AAPIC essays out of the park. Great — we’re here to help!

Set aside 25 minutes and watch this narrated friendly-professor webisode from Dr. Mitch Prinstein, co-author of the APAGS internship workbook Internships in Psychology Hot on the heels of our annual Internship Workshop at APA Convention, this video will walk you through the DO’s and DON’Ts for each of your four essays.

Also, be sure to see #internship on this blog for more videos, articles, and other resources.

Match Day: The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

For doctoral students in clinical, counseling, and school psychology who are applying for internship for the 2014/2015 training year, today is the day that many have stressed over and dreaded since they began the application process last summer.

For many, the overwhelming sensation will be one of relief. However, for others the reality of their match results will be more complicated. Perhaps they matched to a site that will require a move away from their families. Even worse, a critical mass of students will not match at all. They will feel heartbroken, shocked, and angry.

The internship crisis remains one of the biggest challenges for psychology graduate students. While trainees must secure a doctoral internship to meet the requirements for graduation and licensure, there are simply not enough positions to go around. The crisis is even more severe when the number of accredited positions is considered.

2014 Data

Today’s preliminary match statistics show the following:

  • 4,335 students entered the match, with 3,974 completing the process and submitting a rank-order list
  • 3,501 positions were available through the match, with 2,588 of those positions accredited
  • 3,173 students matched to any internship site, with only 2,474 matching to an accredited internship site

This makes the 2014 match rate for doctoral students to an APA- or CPA- accredited internship 62%. This is unacceptable.

2014 Internship Match Day Blog - screensot w refsThe Crisis Lives On

While this year’s numbers are an improvement from last year, the number of trainees who did not match to an accredited internship position should be of grave concern to the training community. Students from accredited doctoral programs in good standing, who have been deemed ready and qualified to obtain an internship position, should be able to do so.

There is also much more to the internship crisis than the match rate. Qualitative data from APPIC’s 2011 survey on the internship imbalance found that, for students with both positive and negative outcomes, the internship process was experienced as being “extremely stressful,” “overwhelming,” “inhuman,” “demoralizing,” and “traumatizing.” When asked how they felt on match day, responses ranged from “defeated,” “angry,” and “betrayed” to “heartbroken” and “devastated.” The system, with significantly fewer positions than the number of students seeking an internship, takes a substantial emotional toll on applicants.

Things need to change. Now.

APAGS’s Response

APAGS cares deeply about the internship crisis, and it has remained a top priority for the committee over the past several years. Along with key stakeholders in the training community, APAGS continues to tirelessly advocate for solutions to ameliorate the imbalance. Here are some highlights on what is being done:

  • In 2012, APA passed the Internship Stimulus Package, which provided $3 million in grant funding to increase the number of accredited internship positions.
  • APAGS regularly advocates for increased funding for doctoral training through the Graduate Psychology Education (GPE) program and the Health Research Services Administration (HRSA).
  • Working with state psychological associations, APAGS is advocating for interns’ services to become eligible for Medicaid and insurance reimbursement (which could potentially create a sustainable source of funding for creating new positions).
  • Most importantly, APAGS is leading an effort with doctoral training councils to develop a thoughtful and comprehensive plan to solve the internship crisis.

Moving Forward

Unfortunately, change has been slow. The internship crisis is a systemic and multifaceted problem that will require complex solutions to eradicate. However, there are several things that you, as a trainee, can do to help solve the problem.

  • Encourage your doctoral program to create an affiliated internship or develop internship positions in the community. Programs, in this way, would contribute positions and not just applicants to the pool, and would be able to create placements for a number of their own students.
  • Participate in advocacy efforts at both the federal and state level, on issues that affect funding for training and reimbursement options.
  • Finally, APAGS welcomes the input and collaboration of passionate individuals on this important issue. Consider writing a blog post that features your thoughts and ideas.

If you were one of the students who was able to match to an internship today, congratulations. We hope you can celebrate and enjoy your accomplishment. If you were unable to match this time around, please know that you have support. APAGS has resources for students who did not match. As fellow students, it is important to support our colleagues during this time. The internship crisis is a stressful and grueling process for all involved. Many well-qualified and exceptional students do not match through no fault of their own. The system is broken. If we all continue to work together as students and advocates, change is possible. But we must fight for it, fight together, and fight now.

You CAN afford to apply for internship – If you follow these tips

Applying for internship can be expensive, particularly for graduate students on a very tight budget. The average cost for the entire process was $1,812 in 2011, inclusive of application fees, attire, and travel. This cost can be expected to increase given APPIC’s fee increases this year (due to changes in their technology vendor):

APPIC Fees 2012-2013 2013-2014
First Application $35 $50
Applications #2-15 (each) $10 $25
Applications #16-20 (each) $25 $40
Applications #21-25 (each) $35 $50
Applications #26+ $50 $65

The cost of applying goes up after the first 15 applications, which is meant to discourage you to applying to more sites than may be helpful (see Q. 12) in securing a match. For the average applicant, there will be natural limit on how many applications you can realistically personalize and how many interviews you can realistically attend. Our first tip, then, is to consider reducing the number of applications with your Director of Clinical Training’s help.

What should know before you find yourself in this scene?

What should know before you find yourself in this scene? (Source: “packing” by Brit, on Flickr. Some rights reserved.)

Here are some additional tips to help you prepare for the costs of getting an internship:

Budgeting

  • Make small changes to your budget to save money over the next few months. Here’s an example: If you pack your lunch instead of buy lunch on campus, you could save $5/lunch or more. If you do that every weekday for a month, you could save as much as $100. Reducing a Starbucks habit could save you the same amount. Adjusting your cell phone plan to be consistent with your usage might also save you a lot over the long haul.
  • Include internship application costs in your expenses for the year. In other words, anticipate these costs by budgeting them into how you allocate your savings, loans and/or stipend.
  • Save on the interview suit. Everyone has their suit for interviews, typically navy blue or black, but there’s no reason to spend a bundle on it. Get one when prices drop, not at the last minute. If you’ve outgrown a suit, consider having a tailor resize your suit. Or borrow one from someone who already went through the gauntlet. Or better yet, do as Macklemore and get to a thiftshop!

Hospitality

  • Consider your social network. When you interview, crashing at a friend’s place (or at a friend of a friend’s place) could save you as much as $150 per night. Some applicants have turned to Facebook for help in identifying viable couches to surf, or they’ve turned to sites like airbnb.com.
  • Start saving your frequent flyer miles. Ask your loved ones to donate miles to help you get a ticket. If you’re a hair short of a free ticket, it may be cheaper to purchase the miles than a whole ticket.

Travel deals

  • Look for discounts. APA offers discounts on rental cars and at least one hotel chain for APAGS members. Your credit cards may have discounts on plane tickets. Sites like kayak.com, priceline.com, and hotwire.com will comparison-shop flights, hotels, and cars so you don’t have to. Bundling these costs together may save you even more.
  • Think creatively about travel. Create alerts for your home airport and cities that you might travel for interviews. If your school is in a more rural, expensive place to fly out of, consider spending the month of January in a place that is cheaper to travel from, or more central to your interviews. Book multi-city travel on one ticket, or compare the pros/cons of flying out of an airport that is less expensive.
  • Consider driving if it’s not that far away.
  • Know that renting a car could be cheaper than getting cabs in some destinations.

    Is it more cost beneficial to rent a car instead of taking taxis? (

    Is it more cost beneficial to rent a car instead of taking taxis? (Source: “Car Rental” by yum9me on Flicker. Some rights reserved.)

For general budgeting tools and videos, we suggest you check out this “Get Money Savvy” resource for graduate students. If you have other ideas, leave them in the comments!

This blog was co-written with Nabil El-Ghoroury.