KCU-PsyD students take part in annual practicum fair

By Haley Reardon Jan 19, 2024
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Demand for mental and behavioral health providers is expected to grow by 22 percent by the year 2031—much faster than the average for all other occupations. As the United States experiences a severe shortage of mental health professionals, Kansas City University (KCU) offers a doctorate of clinical psychology (PsyD) program to meet the growing need.

The time spent on campus and in classrooms is brought to life for KCU PsyD students during three year-long practicums where they work seeing real patients in the community under a clinical supervisor.

Practicums consist of supervised, experiential activities that occur off-campus in health service settings to supplement and integrate what students have learned in the classroom with practical experience. At KCU, practicums allow students to develop and demonstrate the necessary competencies to prepare for internship. Recently, the University hosted a practicum fair to provide an avenue for PsyD students to give presentations focused on the training they have received while also allowing their fellow students in the program to begin learning about the next year’s training opportunities.

Students visited a number of booths representing practicum training opportunities at inpatient psychiatric hospitals, schools, outpatient therapy facilities, community mental health centers, prisons, medical offices and hospitals. “In the PsyD program, there are three levels of training sites. One of the objectives of the fair is to connect less experienced students with those who have advanced through the practicum process so they can learn firsthand about potential experiences,” said Amy Sickel, PsyD, director of clinical training and assistant professor of Health Service Psychology.

Students who participated in the practicum fair not only learn from one another, they had extensive support from PsyD faculty and staff as well who invest countless hours ensuring their success. The team holds workshops to help students create effective curriculum vitae, hone their presentations and prepare for potential practicum interviews.

Following the event, students ranked their most preferred sites and began preparation to apply for their year-long placement. Third-year PsyD student Sarah Taylor says the practicum fair offers constructive feedback and valuable information about internship opportunities. “The practicum fair is always very helpful because students can get a great deal of information about sites. I was able to learn more about internships that interested me; but I also discovered that one of the sites I was most curious about wasn’t exactly what I thought it was,” she said. “Both types of information are extremely important when the time comes to apply for internships. I’m looking for a competitive opportunity that combines both therapy and assessment. The practicum fair allowed me to identify my best options and strengthen my applications.”

For Katie Rennie, third-year advanced standing PsyD student, the practicum fair has been beneficial each year of her studies. “This year, I thoroughly enjoyed being able to advise and guide my junior peers to help them determine the best fit for the training experiences in which they are interested,” she remarked. “It was nice to be able to give informed opinions to fellow students and share that professional development moment with them.”

Learn more about KCU’s PsyD program and how to become a doctor of clinical psychology here.

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