Could Psychology be turned off with the flip of a switch?
No one really knows what is going on with VA and other federal internships in relation to the hiring freeze
Todd Finnerty, Psy.D.
An important deadline looms; internship sites and trainees are deciding on which candidates and internship sites they’ll rank as we speak. The submission deadline for rank order lists is February 1st.
However, President Trump has a broad hiring freeze which may or may not impact the hiring of pre-doctoral psychology interns. President Trump’s hiring freeze has created a small panic in some circles; a huge portion of our internships are funded by the federal government (and could potentially be turned off quickly with the flip of a switch).
I am confident that these internships won’t be frozen out this year. I feel confident that we’re not on the brink of the worst match day ever; but my denial and avoidance are largely irrelevant to reality and the uncertain landscape that President Trump has created. We of course must stay vigilant and advocate for continued funding of these internships.
However, regardless of whether this hiring freeze will end up impacting psychology internships, the uncertainty and near panic the idea has created has given me pause. What about in the future? It is possible that in the future shifting priorities at the federal level could have an adverse impact on psychology training and psychologist hiring, and the federal government is the one basket in which we keep a large number of our eggs. Right now as things are structured the reality is there is no clinical/counseling psychology without the federal government (ex: the Department of Veterans Affairs), at least not a psychology as we know it. They provide a huge portion of our internship training,
Psychology is overly reliant on training “handouts” from the federal government; handouts which the federal government might one day decide to curtail. They might also decide to favor short-sighted but “cost-effective” changes in their hiring practices by prioritizing other disciplines (ex: those who aren’t doctors). I think even if we aren’t on the brink of an internship apocalypse with this hiring freeze (and I hope that we are not), it should be a wake up call that we need to explore meaningful, innovative reforms to our training (and not just recruiting a handful of additional internship sites). If we take meaningful action now to mediate the risk of having too many eggs in the federal government basket we may be able to weather an even worse crisis that might befall us with future government decisions that negatively impact us. Who knows what a Trump administration might decide about the value of psychology and psychologists and investing in our training as compared to other alternatives?
What do you think? Could Psychology (as we know it) be turned off with the flip of a switch? Is our field overly-reliant on the federal government? Are there ways we can increase our self-sufficiency? Email me and let me know what you think: firstname.lastname@example.org