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employment at a va, but no va internship

Discussion in 'Psychology [Psy.D. / Ph.D.]' started by texgirl5660, Apr 13, 2012.

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  1. texgirl5660

    texgirl5660

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    I have a question for people. I am a third year clinical psych student who is applying to internships in the fall. The bulk of my practicum has been at a university counseling center (2 semesters), but this summer I will begin working at a VA hospital. However, by the time I apply for internship, I'm doubting how competitive I will be at VA internships given I will only have had about 4-5 months of training there and less batteries etc. I would hate to not match if I applied to VA internships, but am interested in possibly a career there. Right now I am planning to apply mostly to UCCs because I think that is where I will most likely get matched. I have enjoyed my UCC experience, but think I might be more interested in a career at the VA. Does anyone know what the chances are of getting a job at a VA with only one year of practicum experience there in your doc program?
  2. Ollie123

    Ollie123

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    Depends on many things. Lots of people match at VAs with zero VA experience (we've had several do so in the last 2 years), though obviously the ideal is to have some:)

    Did your UCC experiences include more advanced cases (trauma, addiction, etc.) or was it mostly non-clinical populations? Have you been an active researcher who is publishing and presenting (many VAs greatly value strong research experience)? Did your UCC experience include a lot of solid assessment experience and integrated reports? (my experience with UCCs suggests assessment is minimal there, but it seems an area of emphasis at many VAs). What is the reputation of your program? VAs can generally afford to be a little pickier than some other sites (e.g. CMHCs), so coming from an Argosy or Alliant-type program is going to be a bigger hurdle.
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2012
  3. Therapist4Chnge

    Therapist4Chnge Neuropsych Ninja Faculty Moderator Emeritus

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    I matched with no VA experience....though I did have extensive experience with assessment, substance abuse, and intervention work with severe pathology. I think if you have some good assessment experience, can write a solid report, and have an interest in EBTs....you should at least get some interviews.
  4. AcronymAllergy

    AcronymAllergy Neuropsychology Fellow Moderator

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    This was my experience as well. I feel that at least in my case, the VA sites were more interested in the type/variety of experiences (e.g., as T4C said, solid assessment and SMI work) than they were in whether or not it had occurred at a VA. Although as Ollie said, having VA experience certainly shouldn't hurt.
  5. RoseRed2

    RoseRed2

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    I would encourage you not to count yourself out from matching at a VA for internship. Like others, I matched to a VA this year with no VA experience. I had a lot of other focused experiences (neuro, hospital, etc) which probably helped me get interviews. I would say that for me it was the actual interview process that clarified my interest in a VA as opposed to a UCC longterm. Like you, I thought I would be more competitive at UCCs and so did apply to them as well for fear of not matching at all. I would encourage you to apply to a mix of sites if you are still uncertain come application time. For me it was so amazing to meet psychologists at VAs doing the work I hope to do. Keep your options open and see how the interviews work out. Best wishes.
  6. Ya Ya

    Ya Ya

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    Are you applying in your fourth year? Do you feel competitive in terms of hours and research experiences? Seems pretty early to apply. But YMMV.
  7. texgirl5660

    texgirl5660

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    I was a "direct admit" to my program (combined masters/phd), so it is on time to apply to internship. I will have enough hours come the fall. Most of my clinical hours come from the UCC. I also don't (yet) have any assessment hours or reports written. I will basically have four months to accrue those experiences. I have some research experience, but I would not say it is extensive. My program is well respected however, and it is a PhD, so that might help.

    I feel like I want to just apply to UCCs because I have a higher chance of matching there, but I might include a couple VAs that I am interested in onto my list.
  8. Ollie123

    Ollie123

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    I think the point was just that, regardless of program, year 4 is really the absolute earliest anyone is applying for internship. If you only have 2 semesters of practica, it sounds like you didn't even start clinical work until year 3? That seems to make it even more unusual for the program to expect people to apply in year 4.

    I would definitely work on the assessment and reports. I imagine it would be very difficult to match ANYWHERE with zero assessment hours and no integrated reports. I'm surprised the program is letting you apply given the situation. The lack of VA experience wouldn't be a major hindrance if all your other ducks were in a row, but it doesn't sound like that is the case. I'd worry more about filling in the gaps in your experiences, getting at least some evidence of scholarly output (i.e. if you have a paper that hasn't been sent out yet...even if you aren't first author), etc. Working in a VA isn't necessary, having substantive qualifications (in general) and a breadth of experiences is far more important.
  9. JeyRo

    JeyRo

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    I got an APA internship at a major academic medical center on the east coast (not a VA) and a post-doc at another major academic medical center (again, not a VA) and I ended up working at a VA approximately a year after getting licensed back in California.

    I was told by one of the people on my hiring committee that the fact I *hadn't* had a lot of VA experience (but plenty of quality training experience at my predoc and postdoc sites) was what clinched me as a new hire. For what that's worth.
  10. texgirl5660

    texgirl5660

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    just to be clear, I began practicu.m in ..the second year of ..my doctoral progra..m as I was doing ..my ..master's degree in ..my doctoral progra..m. (I entered ..my doctoral progra..m straight out of undergrad)... So I a..m applying to internship with hours fro..m 2 se..mesters of .. ..my ..master's internship (in a co..m..munity ..mental center).., 2 se..mesters of hours at a UCC, and then 1 su..m..mer se..mester at the VA. One of the loopholes of being a direct ad..mit to a phd progra..m is that you can count your ..master's internship hours toward your doctoral hours because you are enrolled in your doctoral progra..m while working on your ..master's degree. Also, ..many people ..match at UCCs with little assess..ment experience.

    Anyways just thought I'd clarify ..my reasons for applying so early. It's co..m..m..on in ..my progra..m for people to apply after their third year of being a direct ad..mit and ..successfully ..match at an APA accredited site.
    .
  11. AcronymAllergy

    AcronymAllergy Neuropsychology Fellow Moderator

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    Counting master's hours toward your APPIC doctoral training hours, when the master's is earned en route to the Ph.D. rather than being terminal, isn't so much a "loophole" as it is the norm for many (perhaps most) individuals applying to internship. It can certainly be confusing until reading through APPIC's guidelines on the application itself, though.

    As for assessment experience, definitely get as much as you can. If nothing else, it will increase your overall competence as a clinician, given that assessment is often a big chunk of what psychologists do. The more opportunities you have to write integrated reports, the better you'll get at sifting through the piles of data to pick out the truly significant portions in forming your conceptualization.

    With respect to internship, keep in mind that the landscape has changed compared with even five years ago. This isn't meant as a downer, just as a cautionary note to go into the process being as informed as possible. In my program, for example, we begin seeing patients/clients, at the latest, in the second semester of our first year. Even then, with our students typically working in 3 or 4 different settings by that point, individuals applying during their fourth year have failed to match (although to be fair, they also often limited the number of sites to which they applied).

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