Academic journal article Canadian Psychology

Matching Need, Supply, and Demand in Psychology: How Many to Do What for Whom?

Academic journal article Canadian Psychology

Matching Need, Supply, and Demand in Psychology: How Many to Do What for Whom?

Article excerpt

Matching need, supply, and demand for any skilled resource is complex, particularly in recent years when benchmarking has tended to focus more on what communities need rather than for what they are asking. The distinction between need and demand is particularly important for a discipline or profession like psychology where knowledge and expertise are both broad and deep. Communities may ask for what they perceive or under- stand to be available. What they need, if it is undersupplied or unavailable, may not be demanded. So do need, supply, and demand match in psychology? The answer to this question is both probably not and we don't really know. As the national association for the science, practice and education of psychol- ogy in Canada, the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA) has concerned itself with the supply of and demand for psy- chologists for many years.

In 2008, the CPA convened a Task Force1 to look at this issue. Key findings from the task force included: we are an aging profession, there is great need for our services, and there is a disconnect in funding and supply for applied and didactic training. Acting on the Task Force's recommendations, the CPA engaged the Canadian Institute of Health Information (CIHI), Statistics Canada, the Practice Directorate and the regulatory bodies of psychology in discussions regarding the need for common data sets about our psychological resource. We also developed new partnerships and built on existing ones such as those with Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT), Canadian Departments of Psychology (CCDP) and the American Psychological Association (APA). As a further follow-up, we organized and hosted a Summit in Ottawa, ON, on November 8-9, 2013.

The purpose of the Summit was threefold: (a) to hear from organi- sations within and outside of psychology about what we know about students, practitioners, scientists, trainers and faculty in psychology; (b) to identify the data needs and gaps that will enable the discipline and profession to better plan for its future and chart its contributions across Canada's many sectors; and (c) to develop a strategic plan and its associated activities to fill data gaps and hone psychology's ca- pacity to contribute to the health and well-being of Canadians. Over 75 participants gave of their time and covered their own expenses to attend and hear 16 different presenters speak on issues related to Canada's psychologist resource-both academic and practitioner. Issues discussed included: early career issues, internship demand and limited supply, training needs, continuing education, postdoctoral funding, filling knowledge translation gaps, barriers and opportunities to training and recruiting academics, and filling data gaps.

What Did We Learn About Psychology and Psychologists in Canada?

From a representative of CIHI, we learned that in 2011, there were 16,723 psychologists in Canada (71% of whom were female)-an increase of 46% since 1997. The proportion of psychologists per 100,000 Canadians was 48 in 2011, an increase from 43 in 2002. Our population is aging: whereas 26% and 25% are between the ages of 35- 44 and 35-54, respectively, 37% are over the age of 55. The number of students graduating from doctoral psychology programs is increasing at 156 in 2011 compared with 133 in 2005 (Goulet, 2013).

Data presented by a Statistics Canada representative of the 2011 National Household Survey showed that 20% of earned doctorate degrees in psychology were in clinical and 80% were in nonclini- cal. One-third of Canada's 17,260 psychologists have a PhD. Over 2/3 of earned doctorate holders who studied psychology worked as either psychologists (49%) or university professors (20%). New- foundland has the highest number of people per psychologist, whereas Quebec has the lowest-the latter is not surprising given that over half of Canada's psychologists are in Quebec (Ferguson, 2013).

We heard that in remote and rural areas there are significant health provider shortages and challenges, particularly as related to recruitment, retention and training (Malone, 2013). …

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