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The Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University/ Charlie Norwood Veteran Affairs Medical Center

(This is an APA Accredited Psychology Internship)
 

ADAPTATIONS TO THE TRAINING PROGRAM IN RESPONSE TO COVID-19

We are very committed to intern safety during this COVID-19 pandemic.  We have made many adaptations to daily training activities so that our interns feel safe and comfortable during their internship experience.  While attempting to insure intern safety, we are also working hard to maintain the complete richness and quality of the internship experience.  We communicate regularly with the interns individually and as a group to assess their current situations, concerns and preferences.  We respond to issues as they arise in an open, transparent and supportive manner.  

There are, of course, institutional constraints that limit personal choice.  For example, even though an intern may prefer to be working from home, they may need to work onsite during a given day in order to meet clinical or administrative requirements.  When this is the case, we are committed to ensuring that the intern has a safe work space that allows for social distancing and other safety concerns and related measures.  We encourage interns to be assertive and proactive if they encounter working conditions or patient contacts that make them uncomfortable, and we support them in that process.  Currently, all our work sites require masks of all faculty, staff, students, trainees, and patients.  Onsite COVID-19 testing for students, staff, and employees of Augusta University Health is currently available with expedient results.   

When the COVID-19 pandemic first appeared and our state had a stay-at-home order in April 2020, we quickly moved all clinical work and didactics to telehealth and internet platforms and sent interns home.  They continued to work from home productively, keeping track of their activities and hours while we maintained the same levels of clinical supervision and support for them.  The 2019-2020 class of interns reported being satisfied with these arrangements and the modifications with respect to their training experiences.  As community infections stabilized, some interns returned to clinical sites on some days.  Others were able to continue their work at home.  Similarly, faculty at the Charlie Norwood VAMC and Augusta University (AU)/Medical College of Georgia (MCG) initially largely shifted to telehealth, but then also moved to a mix of telehealth work at home and at their work sites.  Faculty at East Central Regional Hospital (ECRH) have performed certain aspects of their jobs virtually, but many of the patients treated at that site must be seen in person.  As of August 2020, our current 2020-2021 intern class is doing mostly telehealth with limited face-to-face work, working onsite in offices at our respective institutions. Additionally, interns are being given the option of working from home whenever feasible or necessary. The interns consistently report feeling safe and comfortable with their current situation.  Interns have private offices at the VAMC.  At AU/MCG and ECRH, the interns have shared work spaces with appropriate social distancing.  Typically, only one intern at a time occupies a shared work space and work spaces that are shared are cleansed properly after they are used.  All work sites also have flexibility for working remotely as needed.   

The VAMC, AU/MCG and ECRH have specific organizational policies related to COVID-19 safety and responding to COVID-19 symptoms, or possible exposures to COVID-19 positive individuals.  Interns and faculty are following these procedures.  If we have learned one thing thus far, it is to be flexible and be prepared for things to change.  We continue to make an effort to respond quickly to changing conditions, whether they be institution-wide or in response to changed circumstances with a particular clinic or with a specific patient.  Although it is difficult to predict what the working conditions will be for the Class of 2021-22, we guarantee that we will adapt and do our best to keep everyone safe while also making sure that interns have a rich learning experience while accumulating the requirements for successful graduation and licensure.

INTERVIEWS

We will be conducting all intern applicant interviews via video or telephone during December 2020 and January 2021.  In prior years, most applicants came for in-person interviews, but this is not practical for this interview season.  Our application review and selection process will remain unchanged otherwise, and our website will place greater emphasis on providing prospective interns with more information about Augusta and the surrounding area.


The Medical College of Georgia-Charlie Norwood Veterans Affairs Medical Center Psychology Internship (MCG-Charlie Norwood VAMC Psychology Internship) was formed in 1982 and has been accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA) since 1983. The APA Commission on Accreditation is recognized by both the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation as the authority for professional education and training in psychology.  The internship was most recently accredited for 10-years with the next site visit scheduled for 2029. *

This doctoral internship program is also a member of the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC).  The administrative, financial, and educational support of the internship is equally shared by MCG/Augusta University and the Charlie Norwood VAMC. The Internship was formed with the guiding principle that synergy could be achieved by pooling resources and interrelating the respective institutional education efforts in regard to psychology internship training with a focus on interdisciplinary health care settings. With the broader institutional missions of the Medical College of Georgia/Augusta University and the Charlie Norwood VAMC aimed at providing outstanding educational and clinical service programs involving health professionals, biomedical scientists, and educators at the undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate levels, this psychology internship has had a breadth of training opportunities in interdisciplinary contexts. Our training model focuses on four primary facets of training in the development of professional psychologists: (1) Training in the implementation of essential practice skills in key field settings; (2) Training in an empirical approach to practice (fostering attitudes of empiricism and reflection); (3) Training in the provision of care for underserved populations and areas; and (4) Training of recovery-oriented care that emphasizes the processes of Connectedness, Hope and optimism about the future, Identity, Meaning in life, and Empowerment.  A distinguishing characteristic of our training efforts has been our focus on producing professional and racially/ethnically diverse psychologists who are well prepared for and seek out careers that are directed toward integrated approaches to health care issues and who aspire to cultural competence in their practice.  Consequently, the MCG-Charlie Norwood VAMC Psychology Internship has combined solid grounding in core clinical psychology skills with emphasis training in the areas of medical psychology and health behavior care.  Integral to all required rotations and track experiences are joint educational and clinical service activities with primary care physicians, psychiatrists and other physician specialists, nurse practitioners, social workers, and other allied health professionals.  Furthermore, core competencies that are taught include skills specifically relevant to the provision of mental health care in medical settings: (1) the application of clinical assessment and treatment in medical settings; (2) the ability to function effectively as a member of an interdisciplinary team; and (3) the development of consultation strategies in medical contexts.  Consistent with overarching principles of professional psychology training the curriculum of MCG-Charlie Norwood VAMC Psychology Internship is intended to provide sequential and cumulative opportunities for the development of and demonstration of core competencies. Furthermore, we strive toward diversity among our trainees and faculty and a training environment that is supportive of diverse individuals and achievement in cultural/diversity competence.  

Matching by Emphasis Tracks

Intern applicants are matched according to emphasis track interests. This allows Interns to accumulate a specific expertise that is consistent with their long-range career interests and enhances their marketable upon graduation.  Interns are selected on the basis of an emphasis training track in which the training will occur during a 4- month rotation and each Wednesday of the week (for the entire year). Note that when applying via APPIC – for the academic year 2020-2021, Interns will see and select from six Track choices:

  • Child and Family Track
  • Forensic Track
  • Clinical Health Psychology Track
  • HIV & LGBTQ Health Disparities Track
  • Psychology of Women Track
  • Trauma Psychology Track

Interns may apply for any or all of the tracks on their APPIC match forms.

The program begins in early July and carries an annual stipend of $26,166. We currently fund 8 interns and anticipate funding 8 interns for the Class of 2021.

Application deadline: November 13, 2020
Starting date: July 1, 2021

(Last revised 9-20)

* For any additional information regarding the accreditation status of the internship contact the American Psychological Association, Office of Program and Accreditation, 750 First Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002-4242 (Phone 202-336-5979). http://www.apa.org/ed/accreditation/index.aspx