Changes in health resulting from the "Internship Process" in a cohort of professional psychology doctoral student applicants



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Graduate students enrolled in clinical, counseling, and school psychology doctoral programs are required to complete a one-year internship prior to graduating and earning their degree. Recently, an imbalance has grown between the number of internship positions and the number of applicants, with more applicants than available internship positions. This creates a period of intense stress and demand on prospective interns as they apply for, interview for, and receive word of pairing results to internship sites. This stress may negatively impact interns’ health and wellness over the application/interview period. To date, this remains an area that has not previously been studied. The current study utilizes a hierarchical, latent variable model of global health, with a global health factor comprised of five first-order factors: Physical health, mental health, spiritual health, social health, and stress (IS-Wel model; Hattie, Myers, & Sweeney, 2004). Using a time-interrupted series design, participants wore a physical activity monitor, completed semi-weekly surveys, and logged food intake via an online application across three phases lasting three, four, and three weeks, respectively.

Using partial least squares structural equation modeling (PLS-SEM), the model was analyzed for fit and predictive validity. Subsequently, means structures were assessed for significant changes across phases, as well as accounting for the influence of resilience as a covariate, within SPSS using a MANCOVA analysis. Paired-sample t-tests were further used to analyze specific areas and direction of change. Results indicated non-significant changes in health across phases, as well as a non-significant interaction between resilience and health by phase. These results indicate that prospective interns are able to effectively cope with the multiple stressors unique to this period of training.



Partial Least Squares-Structural Equation Modeling, Global health, Internship, Physical activity monitor, Resilience