The Psychology Internship Match Crisis

For our 2010 HPA presentation on developments in professional psychology, we examined various career and workforce issues in professional psychology, including the current status of the internship match crisis. There has been an increasing trend over the past 10 years for the number of graduates who fail to match to an internship (2009: 3825 applicants, 846 not matched).

The situation prompted the following comment: APA Board of Directors on the Internship Imbalance Problem: Growing internship imbalance needs urgent attention; APA is working with other psychology groups to address the issue. The 2009 internship match day saw almost one in four psychology graduate students seeking an internship fail to match to an available position during the initial matching phase administered by the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC). During this year�s match process 2,752 applicants matched to an internship position; 846 applicants were not matched. While the APA Board is confident that some of these unmatched students will be able to find internships through the clearinghouse process (299 slots were not filled during the match process) the fact that a larger and larger proportion of students seeking internship are not matching to slots on match day is a growing and serious concern. Of even more serious concern is the reality that the number of students seeking internship is greater than the number of available accredited internship positions thus forcing some students to complete their internship requirement in a non-APA accredited internship and as a result possibly limiting their future career options.

Some of the options suggested include the following:
        Innovation — The field needs to identify and share new and innovative ways to create and fund
additional internship positions in accredited programs. (Bravo to those who put together an new APA approved internship in Hawaii!!)
        Changes in Match Program — APPIC is in the process of exploring a proposal that would allow only students from APA accredited programs to participate in the match program. While APA is not a part of this decision-making process, APPIC’s decision will impact the match imbalance issue.
        Department Responsibility — Individual graduate departments should assume more responsibility for their student match rates. One proposal currently being studied is a plan by which departments with match rates lower than some agreed upon percentage would have the responsibility to either find or create internships for any unplaced students or reduce their future enrollment by that number.

Students are advised to examine the placement records of graduate programs. Links at: http://www.apa.org/apags/issues/internship.aspx

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