Why do you offer both required and optional rotations?
Because we feel certain basic experiences and skill sets are vital to independent functioning, and we have to be sure these are mastered and demonstrated by trainees. But we also believe by this stage of training, advanced graduate students need to fine tune their careers in directions of their choice, which is why we offer optional rotations. The end result is a structured flexibility in an ideal training environment, which allows for basic skill development but also the acquisition of experience with specialized populations.
How many positions are available?
There are three funded predoctoral internship slots. We also train medical students, graduate students and residents from several specialties, so there are about 30 students around at any given time.
What is it like to live in Charleston?
Charleston is clean, attractive and safe, with a diverse population. The politics tend to lean on the liberal side. It is easy to get around Charleston, with large, modern interstates connecting the various sections of the city. The river provides for water activities, and the surrounding mountains, lakes and rivers make West Virginia an ideal location for recreation. It is a very easy city to “break into”, with friendly people who are warm and accepting of newcomers.
How is the cost of living in Charleston?
Housing is about the national average, although past interns have found some real bargains. Housing is available year round, and we suggest interns start looking in late May for July rentals. We help interns find the best and cheapest places to live, and current interns will drive you around to different areas to check out the available apartments or houses. Food and entertainment is a bit lower, but gas a bit higher. Most interns live within ten minutes of the medical center, so little gas money is spent on commuting. Also, parking is free for interns on all three campuses.
Where do we park?
Interns park in the medical staff parking buildings on all three campuses at no charge. Parking buildings are connected to the General and Memorial Divisions by underground tunnels. At Women’s and Children’s, bring your umbrella.
How about insurance?
Excellent individual or family medical coverage is available at a nominal fee. Malpractice insurance is provided at no cost to psychology interns.
Are there travel funds?
Available as budget permits for conferences, etc. Interns also get vacation, sick days, all the usual stuff.
What is the department like?
The WVU Department of Behavioral Medicine is a fun place to be. The disciplines get along great. Faculty and residents don’t get hung up on their Mdeity or PhDeity. Psychiatry residents, medical students, and psychology interns attend rounds and seminars together, learn from one another, help each other with cases, and socialize a lot. There is no student “pecking order”. Interns bring a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience to the program, and that is noted and respected across disciplines. People learn best when the stress level is low.
How are the facilities?
Beautiful, modern, well appointed. Interns have a large office together where they put their stuff, get phone messages, email messages, etc. But each rotation has space available for interns, so they never feel they are living out of their briefcases or backpacks. Each intern has an individual phone number and confidential voice mail, which can be accessed either on or off campus. They typically keep their own email addresses. They have computers and internet access in the intern office.
All interns are issued pagers the same as residents, and these pagers can be activated from anywhere on or off campus. Along with residents and medical students, all psychology interns are issued iPads with substantial psychiatric and medical information pre-loaded. This is helpful when on rounds or otherwise separated from your computer or reference material.
What is the theoretical orientation of the psychology faculty?
Largely cognitive-behavioral and interpersonal. Supervision is available in dynamic therapy and DBT, and we have a strong family therapy department. Our child department is developmentally oriented. We are partial to empirically supported assessments and treatments.
Do I have to do all the required rotations first, before I can do the optional ones?
No, the rotations are interwoven throughout the year. As long as all the required rotations are completed by the end of the training year, the requirements are met.
Are all the rotations full-time?
No, some are part-time. There are rotations that can be put together, so you might be at the Family Resource Center on Monday and Wednesday, the Heart Institute on Tuesday and Thursday, and Outpatient Psychiatry on Friday. When you do Inpatient and the Consult Service, most of your week is devoted to those demands. Assessments are done throughout the year.
Will I be required to do certain optional rotations?
No, optional means optional. If you want to do all your optional rotations at a particular site, that is your choice.
Do I have to choose all my optional rotations at the beginning of the training year?
No, we encourage interns to choose nothing until they have been here for a few weeks and have visited all the sites and met all the faculty supervisors. Then as the year progresses, interns choose what they want to do for the next several months. They are free to change their minds, to choose something different or add something new before the rotation is started.
Can more than one intern take a given optional rotation, or do interns compete for them or have to swap around or trade?
All interns can take optional rotations of their choice. There are some where the workload or supervisor suggests one intern at a time is best, but, for example, if everyone wants to do child psychiatry, or everyone wants to do the Cancer Center, over the course of a training year that can be arranged. Interns are not put in the difficult position of having to do an optional rotation they dislike, just so they can get one they like. You choose what you like and get to do it, regardless of what your classmates choose. There is no need to trade around.
How can you do that?
Intern stipends come from the Institute’s medical education department. We do not have funds being collected from various training sites. As such, we don’t “owe” an intern to any site. If no intern wants to do a particular optional rotation that year, that’s fine. You will be exposed to all faculty through their presentations, and may want to work with some on special projects.
Who can I ask about any specific questions or interests I might have?
You can contact the current interns, or any of the faculty you feel has similar interests to yours. We have also listed our graduates, and one of them might be in your area. We would encourage you to contact them as well. The training director is always willing to answer your questions, either by email or phone. We understand this is a big decision, and you will want to gather as much information as you can to make an intelligent choice.