Fall is a busy time for Div. 18 students. While some students are just embarking on their journeys in academia both in undergraduate and graduate work, others are preparing to launch as early career psychologists. As our interests evolve, so do the questions we have about what to do and where to go next.
The VA is the largest healthcare system that offers predoctoral internship preparation for clinical work, but many graduate students might not be aware that active duty service is also an option for internship. This year our VA section collaborated with Div. 19’s military psychology graduate students to address active duty military internship opportunities. The panel of active duty predoctoral psychology interns represented all branches of our military to answer questions about the process and experience (so far) in military service. What might surprise you is the amount of hands-on mentoring that occurs before you are accepted into the active-duty internship. In addition to working with a liaison from your chosen branch, there are ways to qualify for scholarships to pay for your school in exchange for your active duty service. The Health Professions Scholarship programs are established for the Navy, Army and Air Force, and each branch has its own process. If making that commitment seems daunting and you want more information before you sign up, there is also a summer institute five-day course where doctoral students gain an in-depth understanding of the world of serving as a military psychologist. The Center for Deployment Psychology Summer Institute will begin accepting applications November 15, 2021, for the summer of 2022.
To prepare graduate students seeking a career in police and public safety, the PPSP section offered a student-focused webinar to offer the wisdom of seasoned psychologists. While there are very few opportunities for direct clinical experiences in graduate training for working with police and public safety, gaining cultural competence might be easier than you think. Learning how to interact with police and public safety, speaking their language, and gaining credibility is key to opening the door for clinical work. The panel recommended going for ride-alongs with a local department, participating in citizen’s academies, attending cultural competency training offered online, or getting involved in other professional organizations such as the International Association of Chiefs of Police Psychological Services section, and attending their conferences for networking opportunities. When considering worthwhile clinical training experiences to prepare someone for working as a PPSP psychologist, the panel recommended gaining as much assessment training as possible, mastering a clinical diagnostic interview, understanding health psychology and pharmacological treatments, and high-risk behaviors such as substance use and suicide. Looking over the recommended prerequisite experiences, the numerous opportunities in clinical training across settings offer the desired scaffolding.
One final challenge offered by the panel was to “cold call the PPSP psychologists and ask for them to mentor you,” as it takes a bit of courage to work as PPSP psychologists, we too can benefit from asking more directly for mentorship.
It is never too early to start looking ahead and lucky for the Div. 18 student members, we are surrounded by encouraging and knowledgeable psychologists who are ready to help. If you haven’t joined the various sections of our division, I encourage you to take a deeper dive into what they have to offer to our student members. Attending regular section meetings, networking with the section members in your areas of interest, and taking the time to prioritize professional development just might land you your dream career.
- Information about service as an active duty military psychologist
- Center for Deployment Psychology Summer Institute website
- IACP Police Psychology Services Section