If you’re interested in working alongside physicians to improve
people’s physical and mental health, one of these internships
might be right for you.
BY REBECCA VOELKER
If the terms “medical home” and “patient-centered care” seem to crop up at every turn, it’s not your imagination.
The 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act champions the concept: improving health-care
quality and trimming health-care costs by coordinating patients’ treatment through a team approach. The
law channels new funding into primary-care settings, which serve as one-stop shops for all patients’ health-care needs.
This model is creating new career opportunities for psychologists to work in interdisciplinary teams. The
Department of Veterans Affairs is among those leading that charge. In April, the administration announced
it would add 1,600 mental health clinicians, including psychologists, to its current mental health workforce
of more than 20,000.
“Service delivery in the VA system has shifted,” says D. Rush McQueen, PhD, training director of the
Alaska VA Healthcare System’s internship program. “Much of the care that would have traditionally taken
place in a mental health clinic or psychiatric care unit is being placed in primary-care environments in the
interest of lowering barriers and increasing access.”
Students who want to prepare for this career path may find that psychology internships in primary care
are less plentiful than specialized programs. But here are a few that can help future clinicians navigate the
changing health-care landscape.