Psychology’s Core Knowledge, Scientific Subfields, and Health Service Specialization: Preparing a Competent Workforce—Recommendations From the Opening Doors Summit

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Even though those earning graduate degrees in psychology have high employment rates in both traditional and emerging careers, early career psychologists often note the transition from doctoral education to attainment of first job as the segment of the education and training pipeline during which they faced the most barriers and challenges. To address these issues, the American Psychological Association (APA) presidential initiative that culminated in the Opening Doors Summit identified shared steps that students and postdoctoral trainees, training communities, and the discipline of psychology can take to facilitate pipeline transitions and entry into a satisfying first job. This article describes how an education in the field of psychology should combine instruction in core knowledge of the discipline with a focus on scientific subfields or applied specialization in order to prepare a competent workforce. This approach to education and training is presented within a competency framework aimed at helping graduate students and postdoctoral trainees advance their knowledge, skills, and attitudes. Because these competencies should be fostered in a developmentally appropriate manner, we separately focus on the transition into graduate school and the transition into an internship/postdoctoral training/first job. Specific recommendations for students, training communities, and the discipline of psychology are detailed which, when followed, can facilitate career attainment and success.

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