Integrating Research Into Postdoctoral Training in Health Service Psychology: Challenges and Opportunities

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Abstract

Scientific training remains central to education and practice in health service psychology; however, few guidelines exist regarding how research could or should be integrated into clinically focused postdoctoral training programs. We review sources of guidance regarding the role of research in postdoctoral training, drawing on historical trends and current specialty guidelines. We present preliminary data from the first year of the Universal Psychology Postdoctoral Directory to illustrate how existing training experiences describe research requirements and/or available opportunities. We review the numerous challenges of integrating research into clinically focused health service psychology training and illustrate the potential benefits for trainees themselves and the field as a whole, drawing parallels with medical education and residency training models. Lastly, we describe 3 potential models for integrating research into training at the postdoctoral level. These include capitalizing on existing research training resources, utilizing an implementation science framework to ask systems-based questions to evaluate models of care, and utilizing program evaluation and quality improvement frameworks to illustrate clinical service challenges, opportunities, and potential solutions. A clearer roadmap for research training in health service psychology at the postdoctoral level may enable us to better prepare the psychology workforce for the diverse roles trained professionals will play in this era of health care system transformation.

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