Two years ago I started working with Dr. Adam Schmidt on another training related study, just accepted for publication in the Journal of Clinical Psychology. This time, we were curious about factors leading to successful internship application and match at various sites. There has been some work on this in the past (of which Ginkel et al., 2010 is the most recent), but research on training in health service psychology is limited. Studies on internship, for instance, frequently have examined lumped together sites (VA, Medical Center, College Counseling Centers) despite those sites being extremely distinct in their needs and goals of treatment. As such, we examined what Training Directors value (e.g., believe lead to better outcomes) during interview offer stage, and in the applicant ranking stage. We compared across site types defined by APPIC using 186 (~30%) of training directors. Below we have the pre and post-interview criteria.
Here are a few major stand out standout points to us:
(1) publications are valued less than conference presentations (WHAT?) for interview, and research is valued minimally in generally perhaps reflecting a research practice divide. A low value on research is also associated with less emphasis on EST, which has some unique implications for the professional development of future psychologists (see APA, 2006).
(2) differences in criteria are frequently on thing which take longer to become involved with (research output, assessment given the year in program for intellectual/personality coursework, etc.), meaning that for maximum flexibility in training those things must be started earlier. Said another way, it will be difficult to shift towards an internship that values those later (such as an AMC) while it would be easier to shift away. This has implications for program priorities in the time of offerings and progression.
(3) At a ranking determination, people value the in person interview performance A LOT. Even attendance of an in person interview varies between sites. This is strange given that in person interviews are notoriously bad predictors of subsequent work behaviors. With the virtual interviews this last year during COVID-19, this begs for some interesting and important follow up studies. The potential impact on trainees is huge.
We also asked the question “what is fit” and used qualitative methods to identify themes, and see how they differed between sites and what intersections in listed themes there were. So what is fit? Training directors tend to identify three patterns of characteristics, and how these differ should direct trainees about what they should emphasize, and when.
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