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So You’re Calculating Your Hours

This week I am writing from out of town as I search for apartments for my internship year. I am pleased to announce that I signed a lease yesterday afternoon, on a pet friendly one-bedroom with a huge kitchen, 5 minutes away from my site, and everything is falling into place.

Returning to my series on the application process, our next step is to discuss calculating your practicum hours. Hopefully you planned ahead and tracked your hours over the past few years, so most of the work has already been done for you. Most programs require that you have hours logs signed off on by your practicum supervisor at the end of each placement, and your DCT has to verify whatever you input in your APPI. Below I list my personal nuggets of wisdom for this step of the process.

  1. Make the most of each of your placements. From well before you apply for internship, you will be tracking your hours. When I completed an externship in a therapeutic school setting, I made a plan for myself at the beginning of the year to get as much as I could and immerse myself as fully as possible in that clinical environment. If I was filling out paperwork and heard that a student was having a difficult time, I chose to prioritize accumulating client hours and spend time helping that child. This often lead to me staying after the end of the school day to complete my other work, and at the end of the year I had significantly more hours from that placement than I would have otherwise had.
  2. Follow the APPIC guidelines to calculate your hours as accurately as possible. When you prepare your application, APPIC provides you with very specific guidelines as to how to count each of your hours. You might have to do some math, since they tweak the categories every year (my second year applying, some hours that had been categorized as therapeutic client time were re-classified as assessment based on the descriptions I read on the site). Having a high number of hours is important, but sites will be able to tell from talking to you if you are exaggerating your experience. Sell yourself…but stay honest.
  3. When in doubt, ask! You can’t go wrong if you do what your supervisor/adviser/DCT tell you to do. I sometimes brought home my assessment reports to revise, and I did this for months before my adviser told me that I could count this time even though I was not physically at my practicum site. In hindsight it does make sense – I was spending time writing an assessment report, after all. There tend to be a lot of rumors and misinformation about how to calculate hours, so I kept a line of communication open with my supervisors and adviser to make sure that I was tallying my hours based on what they told me.
  4. Don’t psych yourself out too much. Like I said, there is a lot of misinformation about how to calculate hours, and everyone has a slightly different system. If you discuss your hours with too many different people, you will over-think, and a relatively simple process suddenly becomes overwhelming. Keep it simple, because it does not need to be overly complicated. After all, whatever computer program you have been using to track your hours has done all of the math for you, and all you need to do is copy over the totals.

We are almost through the different components of the application. Next week I will touch on letters of recommendation. For now, I need to start packing!

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