Can we dialogue about this?

Make yourself comfortable, ETSU’s psychology department, I want you to answer a few questions. I’ll start with this one: Now that you have reached the No. 1 ranking, out of 50 nationwide universities accredited by the APA, which were assessed by using a calculation of the EPPP pass rate, length of program, price and overall length of time for your Ph.D program in clinical psychology, how does it make you feel?

Well, relax. Before we can reach an answer, we need to locate the source.

ETSU’s Assistant Professor and Director of Clinical Training Dr. Jill Stinson defines clinical psychology as, “A fairly broad science that largely focuses on assessments and treatments and research in science regarding mental or behavioral health…these may be health concerns of adults, children, adolescents, couples and families across broad ages and diverse backgrounds.”

The EPPP, or the Examination for Professional Practice of Psychology, is the national licensure exam for doctoral students entering the field of psychology in the U.S. Stinson clarifies ETSU’s remarkable standing, “It [the EPPP] has about a 50 percent first-time pass rate nationally, and our program has a 100 percent pass rate.”

Impressive percentages aside, how does ETSU’s psych department do it? What makes them different than the other 49 schools being ranked, schools such as Temple University in 24th place and Louisiana State at 18?

“The level of attention to integration of coursework and practice…I think we work really hard to make the aspect of training, whether it is classroom training or experiential training with clients, shift into our overall mission and prepare our students for clinical psychology,” said Stinson.

With the bottom line in education being integrated health care settings, ETSU clinical psych students actually begin training by watching and shadowing psychologists in local family medicine practices, then actively practice and potentially demonstrate their skills to others. Hands-on training seems to be an important component in the department’s level of success.

Dr. Wallace E. Dixon Jr. is a professor as well as Chair and Graduate Program Coordinator for the Psychology Department. His specialty is developmental psychology and he came to ETSU in 2002 from Heidelburg University in Ohio, formerly called Heidelburg College.

“The very first thing that happened when I became Chair…the Tennessee General Assembly passed a law that basically required doctoral level licensure. Our Master’s students weren’t eligible to become licensed. I mentioned doing a doctoral program in clinical psychology to President Stanton and [the program was] proposed in 2005. We graduated our first students in 2012.”

Now that ETSU has reached number one for its Ph.D program in clinical psychology, I think we can get some real closure.