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UWindsor graduate students come out on top in psych internship competition

Clinical psychology doctoral candidate Jennifer Scammell was stressed out, waiting to learn if she got the internship she needed to successfully complete her degree. After an application process nearly a year long, including interviews at 10 potential placements across Canada, she got the good news.

“It was about eight o’clock in the morning and I had just woken up,” says Scammell. “I was lying in bed and I opened iPad to check my email. I read that I got into Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary and yelled Woo-hoo!

Each year, eligible students from across North America compete for internships through the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Center’s internship matching program. Though an internship is required for graduation, there are more students than placements.

This year, all 14 eligible UWindsor PhD students matched to a site in the first round. Joseph Casey, director of clinical training and associate professor in the Department of Psychology, says the news is a tribute to the quality of its students and training program, as well as a relief to all involved.

“The preparation for this starts months in advance with applications, gathering letters of reference and applying for interviews,” he says.

This year’s result is exceptional since 4,200 students compete for only 3,200 available positions, says Dr. Casey. Students submit an application to vie for interviews at institutions across North America. Once lined up, they must complete their interviews within a one-month time frame.

“I think I was home a total of eight days in January,” says Scammell. “Ten interviews across Canada were really overwhelming.”

In a process that mimics online dating, graduate students and institutions rank one another following completion of all interviews. A computer algorithm spits out the final matches and everyone receives notification by -mail on a date known as “match day.”

Tom Duda, a neuropsychology graduate student who works with children, says he didn’t get much sleep the night before match day. Duda was matched with Baylor College of Medicine - Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, Texas—his top choice.

“I ranked them first and they ranked me; it was one of those experiences that I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” says Duda. “I didn’t have as many interviews as my classmates, so to get a match at such an elite institution is incredible.”

Casey says UWindsor graduates have a great reputation in the profession and excel in the required Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology Exam. UWindsor ranked 14th out of 422 North American programs.

“We want to let the campus know the huge success of this program,” says Casey. “It’s good to let people know these wonderful stories about how well students are doing who are training at such a high level.”

pre-doc interns

Psychology professor Joseph Casey congratulates some of the doctoral students who landed internships (from left): Nicole Yarkovsky, Jennifer Scammell, Shawna Scott, Tom Duda, Ashley Danguecan, Cassandra Pasiak, Jenny Carstens and Ula Khayyat-Abuaita.