In This Issue
By Kathryn T. Lindsey, PhD
One of the most important things we do as psychologists is to usher in the newest generation of psychologists. Each one of us is responsible for the training, mentoring and education of students, interns, fellows and early career psychologists whether we serve as clinicians, researchers, or policymakers; are active duty or civilian; or work in government, academia or the private sector. We have a responsibility to assist in “opening doors and facilitating transition from doctoral education to first job” as our current American Psychological Association (APA) president, Nadine Kaslow, PhD, highlights in her presidential initiatives. Kaslow references the “psychologist development pipeline,” which she defines as “ broadly encompassing all components of education and training that contribute to one's development as a psychologist, from K–12 education to professional development until and beyond retirement.” We in military psychology should capitalize on the APA president's initiative by carefully exploring the current military psychologist development pipeline. In some respects, the military psychologist pipeline has remained steady, insulated from external pressures. In this time of fiscal challenge, the military continues to have a robust internship program across the services, despite the lack of internship programs nationwide to accommodate an ever-increasing number of students completing doctoral training programs. The Army, Navy and Air Force continue to assess doctoral students into our internship programs as well as welcoming several direct accession psychologists each year. That said, military psychology faces unique challenges in recruiting in that some graduate students and psychologists may be hesitant to serve for various reasons: fear of deployment, family separation and lack of career predictability. In the context of an ongoing war that now represents the longest conflict in U.S. history, it remains likely that those completing military training programs will eventually deploy in harm's way. It's essential that we assist those psychologists in making the often stressful transition into military service and mentoring them along the way.
We also must identify and attempt to minimize the barriers that exist in the current environment regarding education and training for all our psychology colleagues, civilian and military. We must actively support and encourage postdoctoral fellowships sponsored by the services and get the word out about these incredible training opportunities. Military psychologists also have an obligation to coordinate, cooperate and facilitate open communication with our civilian counterparts who work tirelessly in other venues to assist in taking care of our service members, veterans and family members, whether in the Veterans Affairs, private practice or through contributing empirical research outcomes relevant to our profession.
Our responsibility does not stop there. After completion of internship, psychologists also must deal with licensure issues if they are clinical, and everyone must deal with finding their first job, as Kaslow points out. This may not be as much of a challenge for those in uniform, but for our civilian counterparts, it can be an extremely difficult undertaking. Div. 19 has maintained an especially strong focus on assisting students and early career psychologists (ECPs) for several years. Specifically, the Student Affairs Committee has done a wonderful job of expanding our outreach efforts to support students interested in military psychology by:
- Awarding over $16,000 to division student affiliates including travel awards and research grants.
- Receiving funding approval for up to five continuing education (CE) scholarships to be used at the 2014 convention for students to receive in-depth training in topics related to military psychology.
- Generating interest that resulted in 38 Div. 19 student proposals accepted for the 2014 convention program.
- Proposing and organizing a Div. 19 student chapter Pprogram that launched on Jan. 1, 2014, including 35 campus representatives acting as ambassadors for military psychology at 26 different university programs in clinical or counseling psychology.
- Utilizing current popular media avenues to now be on Twitter and LinkedIn.
In addition, our ECP committee has made excellent progress and is active in supporting psychologists by:
- Developing a Div. 19 ECP LinkedIn group to foster greater communication/networking for ECPs.
- Submitting ECP-related sessions for the APA Convention (including a potential panel session with senior military psychologists).
- Participating in the APA ECP cross-division poster session.
- Continuing funding for ECPs to travel to conferences and present their research.
- Organizing a host of events in the Div. 19 hospitality suite at the APA Convention to encourage ECP networking .
Please join me and your fellow psychologists and social scientists in focusing on the “psychologist development pipeline” of our students and ECPs. Help us to secure the future of our profession in the most profound way possible—to nurture our successors from graduate school through the process of seeking employment and beyond. It is a fact that the Society for Military Psychology has a highly esteemed membership, many of whom are personally engaged in mentoring efforts. I, for one, have had the distinct honor of having been mentored by many of our distinguished military and civilian psychologists, and I thank each and every one of you for your support and guidance. I encourage each of you to become a mentor, participate actively within the division, support the initiatives of our current APA president and take the time to personally invest in the most important part of military psychology—its membership.