Guidelines for Due Process Regarding Insufficient Competence of Interns
Intern performance is evaluated continually across the span of the internship. Interns and senior staff supervisors work together closely on many of the tasks in which a counseling center psychologist engages. Through the provision of co-therapy and co-facilitation, viewing digitally taped clinical sessions, and reviewing written records, attending meetings and working on committees/projects together, senior staff observes interns' intakes, individual and group therapy, emergency sessions, consultation and outreach work, administrative tasks, and professional interactions with other PACS staff and with adjunct training staff. Feedback is given on a continuous basis during individual and group supervision as well as in meetings initiated by staff and Interns. Formal evaluations by the senior staff of the interns' work are held five times each year.
The senior staff at UNH PACS is committed to interns having the opportunity to learn and develop new skills and to engage in personal/professional growth experiences. At the same time, it is the staff’s responsibility to inform an intern, as soon as possible, if there is concern over her/his performance. Often these concerns arise when an intern is functioning below the expected level of competency in one or more areas but clinical functioning and response to feedback is positive and improvement based on feedback is forthcoming. The lack of competency is not excessive or outside the domain of behaviors for professionals in training. Remediation is instituted as quickly as possible under such circumstances. Remediation may include:
- Increased supervision, including viewing additional videotape.
- Change in the format, emphasis, and/or focus of supervision.
- Recommendation of personal therapy.
However, if the supervisor feels that professional standards have not been integrated, professional competencies have not been demonstrated and/or emotional stability is not evident, he or she will initiate a higher level of response with more formal remediation procedures to be implemented for insufficient competence or problematic behavior. Insufficient competence or problematic behavior, is defined broadly as an interference in professional functioning in the major competency areas of professional standards and ethics, clinical and non-clinical skills, and the management of personal stress, psychological dysfunction and emotional reactions as they impact professional functioning.
A problem typically becomes defined as an insufficient competence when it includes one or more of the following characteristics:
- The intern does not acknowledge, understand, or address the problem when it is identified.
- The problem does not merely reflect a skill deficit that can be remediated through typical training procedures.
- The quality of services delivered by the intern or the interpersonal and professional relationships with other interns or staff are negatively affected by the insufficient competency.
- The insufficient competence results in the intern needing a disproportionate amount of attention or additional training by supervisory personnel.
- The problem is not restricted to one area of professional development.
- The intern's behavior does not change as a result of feedback, remediation efforts, and/or time.
- The problem behavior(s) and/or attitude(s) involves a violation of ethical and/or professional standards or any other behavior deleterious to client welfare.
- The problem behavior(s) and /or attitude(s) does not change as a result of remediation efforts, feedback and/or time.
Formal remediation procedures are as follows:
- The supervisor verbally informs the intern that formal remediation procedures will be implemented.
- The supervisor documents the deficient areas in a written evaluation.
- The supervisor shares the document with the intern.
- The supervisor gives a copy of the evaluation to the Director of Training (DOT). This copy is placed in the intern’s supervision file.
- The DOT will forward a copy of the document to the intern’s academic department.
- The DOT will meet with all involved parties.
- The DOT, after appropriate investigation and consultation, will make a decision which may take the following four forms:
- To dismiss the concern and declare the intern performing adequately.
- To present the intern with specific behavioral conditions for the continuation of the internship and a specific action plan for achieving this.
- To suspend the intern from some or all of his/her activities until specified steps are taken.
- To terminate the internship.
- The DOT will share a copy of the decision with the intern, the academic program and the UNH-CC Human Resources partner if appropriate. The DOT will place a copy of the decision in the permanent file of the intern. If the decision involves continuation in the training program, the DOT may assign a new clinical supervisor and meet with him/her to plan the monitoring of the conditions of the decision.
- A clear plan for evaluation of the formal remediation plan is created with supervisor and intern input. This plan will include an explicit timeline by which identified behavioral objectives will be achieved and the consequences for meeting or not meeting these deadlines. It will also include expectations of intern and training program staff through the remediation period. Finally, the plan will explicitly identify the frequency and type of feedback to be expected.
- An appeal may be submitted according to the due process procedures guidelines.
The basic meaning of due process is a course of formal proceedings carried out regularly and in accordance with established rules and procedures. Due process ensures that decisions about interns are not arbitrary or personally based. It requires that the Training Program identify specific procedures that are applied to all interns’ complaints, concerns and appeals.
Due Process Guidelines
- During the orientation period, interns will receive in writing the PACS expectations related to professional functioning. The DOT will discuss these expectations in both group and individual settings.
- The procedures for evaluation, including when and how evaluations will be conducted will be described. Such evaluations will occur at meaningful intervals.
- The various procedures and actions involved in decision-making regarding the problem behavior or Intern concerns will be described.
- PACSwill communicate early and often with the intern, the intern’s academic program, and the UNH-CC Human Resources partner if any suspected difficulties that are significantly interfering with performance are identified.
- The DOT will institute, when appropriate, a remediation plan for identified inadequacies, including a time frame for expected remediation and consequences of not rectifying the inadequacies.
- If the Intern wants to institute an appeal process, this document describes the steps of how the Intern may officially appeal this program's action.
- PACS due process procedures will ensure that interns have sufficient time to respond to any action taken by the program before the programs implementation.
- When evaluating or making decisions about the intern’s performance, the PACS staff will use input from multiple professional sources.
- The DOT will document in writing and provide to all relevant parties, the actions taken by the program and the rationale for all actions.
If the intern accepts the formal remediation plan, the action(s) is/are implemented and if the intern’s academic program is informed in writing. If the intern wishes to appeal the decision, s/he must submit a letter of addendum or disagreement with the supervisor's evaluation and/or recommendations to the Director of Training, requesting an appeal. The intern must file within 3 working days of receiving the written evaluation. A review panel comprised of the Director of Training and two non-supervisory personnel (i.e.. Senior Staff members, consultants to the training program, and/or the Vice President of Student Affairs) is convened to conduct an appeal no later than 5 working days after receiving the letter of disagreement. This panel submits its recommendations to the PACS Director who may accept or reject the recommendations, or request further deliberations. The ultimate decision is made by the PACS Director.
In the event that the Training Director is the intern's Primary Supervisor, the review goes directly to the Director of PACS. If the Director is the primary supervisor, the review and ultimate decision resides with the Training Director.