In Brief

APA wants to know what early-career psychologists-those within seven years of receiving their doctorate-hope to reap from association membership.

To determine their needs, and how APA can meet them, the association will conduct a first-ever APA survey of these professionals early this year.

"We want to figure out why people join, and why people drop out as well," says Nabil El-Ghoroury, PhD, who served as the 2006 chair of APA's Committee on Early Career Psychologists (CECP).

While many psychologists upgrade their membership once they receive a doctorate, a number drop their association membership about four or five years later, he says.

Knowing what early-career psychologists want will help APA maintain and grow its membership base, says El-Ghoroury, noting that between 15 to 18 percent of the association's membership fits the early-career demographic.

"Given the demographics of APA, it's important that we recruit and retain these early-career psychologists," he says.

Main concerns of early-career psychologists include financial and debt load issues, balancing work and family, licensure and career questions, APA early-career listserv postings suggest. Speaking from his own experience, El-Ghoroury says new professionals are often starting a family at the same time that they're meeting professional demands. Many are trying to buy a home while facing a hefty debt load from student loans, he says.

The survey will also help the CECP and APA understand the demographic makeup of early-career professionals, by seeking information on age, gender and career area, says Guerda Nicolas, PhD, the committee's current chair.

She and other ECP leaders note that, in addition to initiating the early-career listserv, the CECP has taken a number of steps over the past year to better serve early-career psychologists, including offering early-career relevant programming at APA's Annual Convention; providing downloadable information on career-related topics at Early Career Psychologists; and developing a "Building Bridges" brochure for new professionals.

To ease the financial commitment for early-career professionals in the first several years of full membership, APA also has introduced a dues ramp-up program, gradually increasing dues over eight years. Previously, the ramp-up period was five years.

As of Monitor press time, the survey format was still being discussed, but it will likely be print and Web-based, says Nicolas. Survey results should be available in time for consideration by APA leadership at the 2007 Annual Convention in San Francisco.

Check the Early Career Psychologists Listserv® for more information about the survey by late spring or early summer.

-C. Munsey