A ground-breaking new career route for psychology graduates to enter the NHS is being launched in the North West Coast.
From January, NHS organisations will be able to offer training posts for the new role of Associate Psychological Practitioner (APP) and trainee APP.
The new course aims to help address the shortage of psychologists in the NHS and, if successful, it will be offered across the country.
A total of 50 places will be offered in an initial pilot project, with the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) delivering training towards a new Postgraduate Diploma Associate Practitioner Psychologist (PGDip APP).
The course was developed as a result of work led by the Innovation Agency and funded by Health Education England, to explore how to increase the number of psychology professionals in the NHS and create more entry points for graduates.
The plan to create a new career route was developed in partnership with NHS Local Workforce Action Boards (LWABs) in Cheshire and Merseyside and Lancashire and South Cumbria.
Innovation Agency Director of Transformation Carole Spencer said: “Psychology is one of the most popular and largest undergraduate degree subjects, but it is recognised that a significant proportion of psychology graduates who are interested in a career in health care find it unavailable to them as a career choice.”
Chris Samosa of Cheshire and Merseyside LWAB said: “Mental health services are a national priority, particularly during the pandemic, and this programme will help underpin the recovery of local systems and the workforce. The training posts will give aspiring professionals the grounding they need on which to launch their careers.”
Paula Roles of Lancashire and South Cumbria LWAB said: “We aim to help meet some of the immediate workforce challenges in priority areas of psychology. Some graduates may have a significant clinical course component in their degrees, but they do not have the relevant clinical experience, or placements to allow them to enter the workforce on graduation at the same level as, say, a staff nurse would. These new training posts will help to address this gap.”
Trainee Associate Psychology Practitioners will be appointed on one-year training contracts to deliver psychological service input in a mentored role across a range of services from adult mental health, through primary care and health psychology. This appointment will come with a registration on the PGDipAPP course at UCLan.
The course was developed by Dr Kathryn Gardner and Dr Mark Roy at the School of Psychology at UCLan. Dr Roy said: “The course philosophy is to develop core practitioner psychologist competencies that are central to effective clinical practice in all services, at the same time as allowing trainees to develop specialist expertise within their service speciality.”
Interviews are taking place this month for the first 50 places, with recruits due to take up their places in January. The course will be evaluated with a view to being extended nationally.
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