Patient Perspectives and Experiences are strongly valued within the Psychology Internship Program through the Menninger Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences at Baylor College of Medicine. This is apparent in the attitudes and values of the members of the training program and demonstrated by our inclusion of better understanding patient perspectives and experiences as one of our five primary training goals.
Further, our program is committed to recruiting internship applicants from different backgrounds, recognizing that all faculty, staff, and trainees’ experiences and perspectives add richness and depth to the training program. The internship training program also emphasizes promoting and maintaining an open and supportive training environment, adopting a genuine curiosity and willingness to learn about each other’s lived experiences to facilitate an environment of mutual respect and appreciation.
Recruitment and Training
Our internship training program strongly values recruiting and training interns from different backgrounds who have an interest in working with patients who come from diverse, under-represented, and disadvantaged backgrounds. The training program recognizes the need to increase the number of psychologists available to meet the psychological needs of a society that is becoming increasingly diverse.
We are pleased with our success in recruiting applicants from all over the United States and in training interns from an array of backgrounds. Our program is also very willing and able to accept interns who identify as foreign nationals, with an infrastructure that is not always in place at smaller institutions.
Emphasis on better understanding Patient Perspectives and Experiences
Given the diversity of the patient populations served by psychology interns in our program, it is imperative that interns receive high-quality training and supervision that encourages trainees to understand their patients in the full context of their lives. Our program provides broad-based training within a scientist-practitioner model, has a substantial clinical emphasis, and incorporates the scholarly and scientific background of psychology. Within these specific contexts, interns are encouraged to develop sensitivity to patient perspectives and experiences, which is explicitly one of our program’s training goals.
Our internship includes training in better understanding patient perspectives and experiences by providing interns with a vast array of clinical experiences, but also through didactics and supervision. Information about access to different patient populations is included in the description of each primary training track, and our psychology internship program strongly values the development of interns’ sensitivity to their patient’s lived experiences.
With regard to didactics, our Topic Seminar Series includes a broad range of topics (i.e. assessment, treatment, consultation, & ethics/professional behavior), and interns are encouraged to examine these topics with consideration for biological, psychological, and social context. Further, specific seminars focused on clinical work with specific populations are offered. As part of their primary tracks, interns may also attend specialized seminars/conferences that address or relate to work with a specific patient population. Additionally, as a part of their core didactics interns attend a monthly Patient Perspectives and Experiences Case Conference that focuses on case discussions of issues relevant to our patients’ experiences.
While having a strong emphasis on patient perspectives and experiences in the training program is vital to helping interns become better qualified to provide clinical services to patients from different backgrounds, our program also recognizes the value of offering additional support systems to facilitate the professional development of interns who come from all different backgrounds, including those from under-represented groups in psychology. The training program believes that in addition to having nurturing training environment with supportive faculty and staff, having additional mentors who are accessible to interns can be particularly helpful for interns from different backgrounds.
The Texas Mental Health Equity Mentorship Network, a regional extension of the American Psychiatric Association’s National Minority Fellowship Program, was established with this in mind. Its primary goals are to help create educational, mentoring, and career opportunities for mental health trainees and/or faculty who are members of under-served or under-represented minority groups and to support programming to assist with the elimination of health/mental health disparities. Psychology interns who come from under-served and under-represented groups, who have an interest in being mentored, will have an opportunity to join a “Mentoring Family” through TMHEMN that is comprised of medical students, psychiatry and psychology trainees, junior and senior faculty, and community practitioners. These interns will have opportunities throughout the course of the training year to network with peers and mentors within psychology and to establish supportive networks locally and nationally that will help sustain them as they move forward in their careers. Past mentees are also strongly encouraged to become mentors after they complete their internship and remain a resource for current and future network members.