PhD/PsyD Clinical Psych Applicant - how do you assess the quality of a program's APA-accredited internship matches?

Feb 5, 2021
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Hi everyone,

I'm currently interviewing for clinical psych programs. I understand the importance of an APA-accredited internship and only applied to programs with high rates. Is there any way to judge the quality of the programs' internship matches, beyond the numbers? Among APA-accredited internships, is there a significant discrepancy in their quality or reputation? If I'm lucky enough to have multiple offers, I'm wondering if I should weigh the program's history of matching students to "prestigious" or "top" internships.

I appreciate any insight!
 

BizQuick

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I had this on my mind when I was applying to programs. I literally just asked the DCTs at the two schools I had offers from to provide me with lists of where recent students had matched. It helped me make my final decision. There are definitely differences between quality or perceived quality of internships. "Better" programs tend to match students to "better" sites, overall, so I think it's worth considering depending on your career trajectory. If I were trying to be faculty at a small liberal arts college, for example, it wouldn't matter to me.
 
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WisNeuro

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It depends on specialties when it comes to "prestige" of internships. A site that I would consider a top neuro site, may only have a mediocre general internship program. I'm sure it's similar to other specialty training areas. So, I'd look at what kinds of things you want to do and see if their students are matching at those sites. If you have a mentor in the area, they may be able to add some context.
 
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summerbabe

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In general, it's hard to judge quality given that most internship sites are local/regional. But if a program has a track record of matching people to research hospitals or federal programs (VAs, BoP) that probably bodes well.
I'm sure it's similar to other specialty training areas. So, I'd look at what kinds of things you want to do and see if their students are matching at those sites.
Agreed and I think this is especially important if you're interested in a specific internship (BoP, state hospital, neuro) or a specific internship setting (AMC, VA) since these sites often get way more applicants than they can interview and are also looking for a more specific set of foundational competencies that will continue to develop during the internship year.

For example, if somebody is set on doing a state hospital internship, they're going to need more significantly more assessment experience than somebody who wants a therapy focused internship. While every reputable program will cover assessment, the quality and quantity of available additional experiences (both program and community-based) can and will vary.
 
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mxbz

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Some PhD/PsyD programs will list recent internship site placements on their department website, so you could check that way. As others have mentioned, look to see if trainees are matching to the types of internship sites you're interested in (e.g., AMC, VA, etc.).

With regard to prestige... internship is only a year, and really the only thing that's particularly important is whether the site is APA accredited or not. If a PhD/PsyD program has a high APA accredited match rate, then I would imagine that competitiveness for "prestigious" sites will boil down mostly to individual applicant factors. I personally think that "fit" is a better metric than "prestige," and that will almost definitely vary from applicant to applicant (e.g., even within a specialty, two applicants may have wildly different rank lists, etc.).

Assuming that you're coming from a program with a high APA-accredited match rate, then your competitiveness will likely be determined by the strength of the training opportunities you've taken advantage of during graduate school. So, look into the quality (or "prestige") of the internal and external clinical and research training made available at a PhD/PsyD program. If you want to complete internship in an AMC, then it will be important/helpful to receive pre-internship training within that setting. If you're interested in neuropsychology, then you need to receive solid pre-internship training in neuro- to be competitive for internship, etc., etc.

If you can receive excellent/solid clinical and research training during your predoctoral training, then you'll be more competitive when it comes time to apply to internship.
 
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AcronymAllergy

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As others have said or indicated, there's really no centralized ranking or objective criteria for determining the prestige of internship sites. And even in those areas with some readily-identifiable prestigious sites, it can vary substantially from one specialty area to the next. I would second/third the advice to just ask for or look at the list of recently-matched programs and see if it aligns with your interests and career goals.

After fellowship, very few people are really going to look at where you completed internship other than to determine if it was APA-accredited (and fewer still will know which sites are more vs. less prestigious). At that point, the main benefits of internship would be any networking you were able to do while or since being there. Or the occasional, "oh hey, you went to XYZ site, too? Great!"
 
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