Movie Review of “The Purge: Match Day Massacre” #APPIC

Just remember all the good the purge does

First, there was The Purge, then the sequels were The Purge: Anarchy and also The Purge: Election Year (incidentally don’t click on those YouTube trailers if you are squeamish).

The APPIC internship match day is Friday, February 19, 2016; the newest Purge movie has been announced. It is called “The Purge: Match Day Massacre.” One day per year everyone loses their minds and beats the hell out of a group of prospective interns. However, just remember how much good the APPIC predoctoral psychology internship match does.

You can follow along with the annual Match Day Massacre Statistics here. While there are always self-congratulatory statements made about the improvements; the statistic to pay attention to is how many students were matched to APA-accredited internships.

One reason not having an APA-accredited internship is tough? Well, our largest employers (ex: the VA and other federal government agencies) currently require them, though certainly things can change. Want to know one reason why it is hard to change these misguided employment practices? Well, let’s start with the rhetoric of misguided APA leaders. For example, in 2012 when I spoke out against the APA policies you’ll see links to below, the first person to rise up to support them was Ali Mattu, Ph.D. (who is trying to run for APA President-elect this year). Those policies are now APA Policies: you can see the first one here and the second one here. Incidentally, APA’s current interim CEO also deserves plenty of sarcastic “thanks.” The policies, and the rhetoric of some misguided APA leaders, offer little help to psychologists who didn’t have APA-accredited internships.

Fittingly, yet another journal article was recently published online (entire academic careers could be made by regurgitating the same proposals that no one ever acts on over and over as long as you don’t really think out of the box and challenge the idea that an APA-accredited internship was necessary). In Solving the Internship Imbalance: Opportunities and Obstacles by Doran, Jennifer M.; Cimbora, David M. in
Training and Education in Professional Psychology, Feb 15 , 2016; the authors write “perhaps the most important component of the social responsibility paradigm is that doctoral programs should begin to hold or decrease their program sizes. Previous discussions of this issue ([citations]) have introduced the idea that programs adjust their enrollment based on their recent Match rate, and that inadequate Match rates should lead to a reduction of enrollment.”

Let’s of course not have any illusions about which programs they are talking about; it is of course, professional school programs with larger class sizes and lower match rates. One reason for the lower match rates? APPIC internship sites are allowed to publicly state that they don’t want people from Psy.D. programs (or “prefer” not to take them). Sounds like a self-fulfilling prophecy that these programs take fewer people from professional schools when they’re allowed to publicly state that they’d prefer not to have applicants from professional schools.

The authors go on to note that “along similar lines, it has been previously suggested that programs maintain a Match rate of 70% to remain eligible to participate in the APPIC Match ([citation]).”

These types of proposals, along with the fact that recently passed APA policies being implemented now mean that soon future graduates of APA-accredited doctoral programs will need to have an APA-accredited internship in order to receive a diploma (see the links at the top of this article about these APA policies) will contribute to the Purge. If there aren’t enough internships to go around it doesn’t just mean that some students’ hopes for an internship will die, it means that some professional schools will die. It isn’t like it can’t happen, the school I went to just died.

Some misguided professionals have called for a Flexner Report in Psychology (basically something which closed lots of medical schools in the distant past due to quality concerns). Some of the recent APA policies that have been passed related to APA-accreditation and many of the proposals which have yet to succeed come from people who have called for Psychology’s Flexner Report. Unfortunately, many people calling for “Psychology’s Flexner Report” take the attitude (without any real experience with professional schools) that they are sub-par in part because they disagree with their philosophy of training. When you hear calls for Psychology’s Flexner Report it usually means someone doesn’t like professional schools and thinks there are too many psychologists being trained. They of course don’t have any data to support their flawed assumptions, and as we know we have a huge unmet need for mental health professionals in our country. Amusingly, the Department of Veterans Affairs (the largest employer of psychologists) even recently reported that they had a shortage of psychologists.

So when you see the percentages for the most recent APPIC Match Day be sure to pay attention not just to matched and unmatched, but how many received APA-accredited internships. There isn’t a “purge” going on just about who gets an internship this year and who doesn’t, but also the beginnings of a “Purge” related to which schools get to remain schools at all– the survival of some professional schools may be at stake in the very near future because accredited internships will be required to grant a degree. Just remember that there are some misguided APA leaders who are measuring their progress not just on what percentage of students get matched to an internship, but how many professional schools fail.

However, none of us should fall prey to a simple error: demand for predoctoral psychology interns isn’t the same thing as demand for psychologists. There is a significant demand for psychologists. Our country has huge unmet needs and there are long wait-lists for treatment. Unfortunately, there is less demand for predoctoral interns (whose work you often can’t bill for; who you have to invest a significant amount of time training only to watch them leave your organization after 1 year— despite the fact that you went through expensive, annoying APA-accreditation procedures while also dealing with APPIC).

It isn’t that our country doesn’t need more psychologists because we do– it is that running an internship is hard work.

However, just remember how much good the purge does. While these misguided leaders will tell you about protecting the public in relation to requiring APA internships, they won’t speak a word about protecting APA members who didn’t have APA-accredited internships. They will take your dues but will they defend your right to practice at our largest employers? No. Will they protect the value of your psychology license, and your right to practice to the full extent of your state licensure with the federal government and other employers? No. However, we want them to.

#ALLpsychologists is not about trashing APA-accredited internships or destroying the system. Justifying not defending our scope of practice or our ability to practice to the full extent of our license by talking about all the good that APA-accredited internships do is a straw man that lets them avoid reality while people are being attacked. Misguided APA leaders respond to our legitimate concerns by writing us off as though we were against accreditation; this helps them avoid realities while overlooking the harm being done to psychologists who didn’t have APA-accredited internships (like not even letting them apply to our largest employers). #ALLpsychologists is about defending the many professionals each year who didn’t match to an APA-accredited internship. The thousands of people who didn’t match to APA-accredited internships over the last few years alone deserve our support, that is why I started #ALLpsychologists.

While I do think of some of the good APA-accredited internships have done; let’s also do some good for people who have survived the internship crisis. We can start by opening our minds to possibilities like advocating for the ability of any licensed psychologist to apply to and get a job with our largest employers.

If you have questions email toddfinnerty@toddfinnerty.com.

Thanks again,

Todd

Todd Finnerty, Psy.D.
www.psychology.news
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