Missouri psychologists can now count pre-internship training hours toward licensure

New regulations bring Missouri in line with APA’s Model Licensure Act.

By Hannah Calkins

Psychology graduate students in Missouri are now allowed to count more of their predoctoral training hours toward licensure. On July 14, Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (R) signed Senate Bill 501, which stipulates that students can begin accruing the hours of training required for licensure during their pre-internship work, such as in practicums. This will allow them to accrue the remaining required hours through their internship and other predoctoral experiences, and make them eligible for licensure shortly after their doctorate is conferred. Missouri is the 17th state to allow students to count pre-internship hours.

The regulation change reflects the APA Model Act for State Licensure of Psychologists (PDF, 111KB), which was revised and adopted in 2010 and allows for sequential, organized, supervised professional training to “be completed prior or subsequent to the granting of the doctoral degree.”

Students who accrue all their required hours of training predoctorally and are eligible for licensure earlier in their careers are more appealing to employers — especially independent practices which have limited ways to bill for postdoctoral trainees who are not yet licensed, says Deborah Baker, JD, director of legal and regulatory policy in the APA Practice Organization.

“Because third-party payers may not cover services provided by supervised, unlicensed persons, hiring postdocs can be challenging for private practices from an economic perspective,” Baker says. Still, most states require students to split their training between an internship and postdoc, though there has been some momentum in changing state licensure requirements since the APA Model Licensure Act was last updated. A national advocacy effort is underway to support the slow, state-by-state work of eliminating the postdoc requirement altogether.

To that end, APA’s Office of Early Career Psychologists has developed the State Psychology Licensure Toolkit, which provides news and updates, case studies, advocacy resources and other support to mobilize psychologists and students.

“We envision a time when all jurisdictions will count the significant, formative practicum hours that students complete prior to internship,” says Eddy Ameen, PhD, director of APA’s Office of Early Career Psychologists. “Doing so recognizes that internship graduates are equipped for practice as independent professionals, allows states greater ability to retain interns and recruit early career psychologists, puts more licensed providers into healthcare settings — often where there are shortages — and gives new psychologists better access to the means for repaying student debt.”

If you are interested in getting involved in this effort, Ameen invites you to complete this brief interest form by Nov. 1.