Training Program Overview

Philosophy

In brief, the WVU/CAMC internship is a clinical psychology training program in a medical setting. It is designed to train predoctoral interns in the broad and general skills required to function independently in entry-level professional positions, following graduation and the requisite licensure or certification. Training is sequential, cumulative, and graded in complexity in each rotation over the year. It is best described as following a professional/scholar model, with mentoring, solid clinical training and the utilization of the scientific literature to inform and shape practice, teaching and scholarly work. We firmly adhere to the integration of science and practice for internship training. In addition to the generalist training recommended at the internship level, we also offer an emphasis in clinical health psychology, consistent with our medical setting. We stress multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary functioning, multitheoretical approaches, and diversity sensitivity/competence. Also stressed are personal development and the crafting of one's professional identity.

This internship is fully accredited by the APA Committee on Accreditation through the American Psychological Association, 750 First Street, NE, Washington, DC, 20002-4242, phone: 202-336-5979, and complies with all standards and regulations of the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC). The internship training year is July 1st to June 30th. The deadline for applications is December 1st. OUR APPIC INTERNSHIP MATCHING PROGRAM CODE # IS 163711.

The year-long internship is divided into eight months of required experiences and four months where interns choose from a number of optional experiences. The required and optional rotations are mixed over the year, so all required experiences do not have to be completed before optional training begins.

Full descriptions of rotations are available here. The following is a brief overview of the program schedule:

Required Rotations: These experiences are of fixed length, as noted below. They combine to total 32 weeks.

  1. Inpatient Psychiatry 6 weeks
  2. Outpatient Psychiatry (with electives) 10 weeks
  3. Consultation/Liaison 12 weeks
  4. Assessment Service [10 comprehensive assessments required] estimated at 4 weeks

Optional Rotations: These training experiences are of varying lengths, as arranged with faculty and staff. They combine to total 18 weeks. 

  1. WVU Family Medicine
  2. WVU Child & Adolescent Psychiatry
  3. WVU Psychological Assessment Lab
  4. CAMC Family Resource Center
  5. CAMC Med Rehabilitation Center
  6. CAMC Cardiac Rehabilitation
  7. Critical Incident Stress Team
  8. Simulation Center
  9. CAMC’s Sleep Center
  10. WVU Disordered Eating Center of Charleston (DECC)
  11. Independent Research
  12. Other special interest rotations can be arranged, e.g. neurology, hospital administration

Total Training Time: 32 weeks of required + 18 weeks of optional rotations = 50 weeks.

Supervision

Supervision is provided by psychology faculty as well as faculty from other disciplines. While supervision is regularly scheduled, the internship’s goals stress the fostering of a sense of the intern’s professional independence over time and experience. Supervision will be close at first, less close as you progress in training. Psychology interns are viewed as residents by the medical center, and junior colleagues by faculty. They are involved in constant daily clinical give and take. Interns often spend long blocks of time with faculty members as they engage in professional activities. It is through these interactions that the majority of mutual assessments of ability take place. However interns will be required to demonstrate a certain level of competence in a variety of specific areas of clinical psychology. While individual differences in theoretical orientation are expected, we feel well-trained clinical psychologists must have a core of traditional clinical and research skills at their disposal.

Exposure to diversity in race, culture, lifestyle, socioeconomic status, physical status, etc. is an important training objective here. West Virginia is largely White and European, although Charleston has a significant population of African American, Middle Eastern and Asian/Pacific Basin residents. Perhaps best represented in terms of diversity are the rural Appalachian poor, who are concentrated in areas an hour south of Charleston. Over the years, our interns and residents have come from various racial, cultural, and lifestyle backgrounds. All of the rotation facilities are completely accessible, so applicants with physical challenges will have no environmental barriers to their training. Diversity is discussed in clinical presentations and supervision, through didactics, and in Diversity Dialogue, which involves evening meetings at the homes of faculty.

Research

Research is encouraged and supported both professionally and administratively in this setting. One half day per week is earmarked for research pursuits. Ongoing faculty research projects are available, although interns are encouraged to develop, implement and evaluate a project of their specific interest during the internship. Interns often present at the medical center’s annual Resident Research Day. They may present dissertation research, studies done on-site, or unique case studies from their clinical practice. They often win small cash prizes, as well as the admiration of department students and faculty who come to cheer them on in the audience.

Perhaps most important is that we consider the clinical internship to be a special year to focus on single case designs. This is an excellent way to incorporate research into a professional/scientist program. The department strives to maintain an attitude of inquiry. Interns are encouraged to do literature searches on their challenging new patients, regardless of which rotation they are on. Pursuing the literature on specific disorders or situations as they present clinically allows one to be in touch with cutting edge assessments and interventions. It also sensitizes interns to prevailing professional or ethical issues that may accompany working with such individuals. Literature searches can be done in a few minutes from many sites. They provide article summaries, as well as the opportunity to follow up with the original sources. So each patient can become a single case research project, steering interns toward specific interventions and outcomes. Hopefully, this helps set the intern on a life-long course of continuing professional development and connection with psychology’s scholarly roots.

Library Facilities: The WVU School of Medicine Charleston Division Library is located in the Medical Education Building on the Memorial Campus. It has a wide variety of volumes, journals and abstracts necessary for research. Library staff will obtain any references unavailable in the library within a couple of days through inter-library loan. Located in the library and the Department are computerized search terminals, allowing the intern immediate access to annotated references through MEDLINE and PsychInfo. See their website at lib.wvu.edu/charleston.

Didactic Training

The WVU Department of Behavioral Medicine and Psychiatry is a setting that stresses support and nurture for students in training. We are busy and we are good, but that doesn't mean we can't take time to care for one another. Visitors to our program often comment on the sense of warmth and interpersonal respect that is obvious among staff, faculty, and trainees across disciplines.

In addition to informal contacts, learning also takes place in a number of scheduled presentations and seminars. Didactics are presented at two levels for psychology interns:

1. All psychology interns meet for Intern Seminar with one psychology faculty member on Monday mornings from 8:00 to 9:00 am. Material presented in this seminar is specific to the needs of psychology interns. From 9:00 am to 10:00 am trainees participate in the intern case conference, which is coordinated by different psychology faculty each month. 

2. Rounds and seminars of general interest to all profession in the Department are presented on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. A wide variety of topics are presented. Some are in a continuing format, while others such as Grand Rounds offer different topics each week. Each intern gets a listing of the next week’s didactics in his/her mailbox the week before, and the information is also updated weekly on the departmental website.

Some conferences are required for a given rotation. Others can be attended as the intern’s time allows. All are open to everyone who can make it, regardless of professional specialty or level of training. On Thursdays at noon the department plays psych jeopardy, where one side of the room competes with the other with the chief resident as master of ceremonies. The teams are totally mixed, with faculty and students, residents and interns scrambled together, and the teams change weekly. Interns frequently know answers residents don’t, and vice versa. It’s a great place to recall all of the trivia we were all forced to learn in school. The prizes are underwhelming.