A staff member who experiences concern about any aspect of an intern’s behavior is expected to discuss that concern directly with the intern and to inform the Training Director about the discussion.
Any time that any significant concern about an intern’s progress or behavior is brought to the attention of the Training Director, the importance of this concern and the need for related action will be assessed by the senior staff. In the event that it is assessed that remedial action is necessary, the intern will be asked to meet with the senior staff in order to discuss the concern and to reach an agreement as to what action should be taken. The intern may invite a colleague to attend this meeting in an advocacy role for the intern. The outcome will be a “Remedial Action Plan,” which summarizes the concerns that exist and outlines the remedial steps that the intern must take.
The purpose of the Remedial Action Plan is to provide the intern with a clear written statement of what behaviors are deemed problematic and to facilitate the intern’s ability to make the desired changes. The need to protect client and agency welfare will be incorporated into this plan when these issues are relevant to the problematic behavior. Examples of potential components of a Remedial Action Plan are:
The intern is required to more responsibly attend to professional duties such as completion of case notes, or attending schedule client and supervision sessions regularly and on time.
The intern is provided with additional supervision time, or the format and focus of supervision is modified in order to facilitate the development of therapeutic skills.
In cases in which it is determined that the welfare of the intern and/or the client has been jeopardized, the intern’s case privileges will either be significantly reduced or suspended for a specified period of time.
The Remedial Action Plan will be put into writing, with copies going to the intern and the intern’s file at the Center.
The senior staff will meet with the intern at a designated time (typically two weeks to one month) after the development of the plan to assess compliance with the plan and progress in the program. Failure to adhere to the plan or to make sufficient progress in the designated behaviors of concern will be evaluated for appropriate consequences and/or the need for modification of the plan.
Formal probation of an intern may be implemented when serious concerns emerge about an intern’s competence, professionalism, emotional stability, or ethics. Probation is both a time-limited and remediation-oriented consequence. The primary purpose of probationary action is to bring the intern to an adequately functioning state as a professional. As a result, the intern is placed on probation for a specified period of time during which her/his behavior will be closely monitored by the primary supervisor in consultation with the rest of the training staff.
The most common grounds for probation include:
The need to place an intern on probation will be decided upon by the senior staff, and after a review meeting with the intern and her/his supervisor. A written plan for remediation will be designed, as outlined in the section on remedial action. Faculty from the intern’s home program shall be notified in writing. Phone contact may also be initiated with the home program if it is appropriate to involve them in the remedial planning or if information is being sought as to the intern’s prior level of functioning.
Probationary status will be specified for a designated length of time and will include regularly scheduled evaluation sessions with the senior staff, intern, and supervisor. Termination of probationary status will:
- Be contingent upon demonstrated improvements in the intern’s functioning,
- Be determined by the entire senior staff, and
- Be communicated to the intern in writing by the Director of Training within two working days of the final decision.
The intern’s home academic program will be notified immediately of the decision to place the intern on probation and of the disposition following the probationary period. Failure to comply with remedial plan or to significantly improve the concerns leading to probation can result in a number of consequences to be decided by the senior staff.
Suspension or dismissal
In cases involving severe violations of the APA Code of Ethics, where imminent harm to a client is a salient concern, where there is a preponderance of unprofessional behavior, or where there is a lack of change in behaviors for which a trainee has been placed on probation, suspension of agency privileges or dismissal may be recommended consequences. In such cases, this decision will be made by the entire training staff and will be subject to approval by the Director of the Center. Written documentation will be given to the intern. The intern will be notified immediately and will be provided with a copy of the documentation and informed of grievance and appeal procedures. If the decision is made to suspend the intern, the Director of Training will send written notification of this action to the intern’s home academic department within two working days of the decision and also contact the student’s advisor by phone. Suspension would take the form of a required leave of absence from the Center; dismissal means that the intern would be terminated from the training program. In the latter case, the agency will make recommendations to the home program regarding further remediation and/or a career shift.
Definition of Impairment
Interns make significant developmental transitions during the internship placement period. Part of the training process involves the identification of growth and/or problem areas for the intern. A problem area is defined as a behavior, attitude, or other characteristic which, while of concern and requiring remediation, is not excessive or outside the domain of behaviors for professionals in training. Problems are typically amenable to management procedures or amelioration.
While it is a professional judgment as to when an intern’s behavior becomes impaired rather than problematic, impairment can be broadly defined as interference in professional functioning which is reflected in one or more of the following ways:
If the intern is in disagreement with any aspect of the remedial action, probationary, suspension, or dismissal procedures, s/he may utilize the designated intern grievance procedures. The intern may grieve the validity of concerns that have been raised, the requirements of a Remedial Action Plan, and/or the process used during the remediation procedure.
At any time during the year, an intern may take issue with a staff member regarding a particular behavior or pattern of behaviors, or with the entire staff regarding policy or procedure. It is expected that the complainant will take the concern directly to the person(s) with whom s/he takes issue and that the parties will work to resolve the concern in a manner satisfactory to both.
In the event that the intern feels dissatisfied with the outcome, the following grievance procedures are established to aid in the resolution:
If the intern has a problem with a supervisor, seminar leader, or staff person which s/he has been unable to resolve through discussion with that person, the Director of Training will meet with both parties to provide mediation and resolution of the problem. The senior staff will also be notified of the situation. If the Director of Training is the party with whom the intern has issue, then the Director of the Center will meet with both parties to provide mediation and resolution. The intern may also invite another staff member or colleague to attend this meeting to serve in an advocacy role, or to present information supporting the intern.
If resolution still has not been achieved, the intern may request a three-person committee, composed of two senior staff members or adjunct supervisors and one other colleague chosen by the intern, be assembled. This committee will, in a timely fashion (not to exceed 30 days), gather information regarding the grievance, inform the intern of its findings, and offer recommendations to the Director of Training (or the Center Director if the Director of Training is involved in the issue). Should the intern contest the decision, he/she can take the issue to the Director of the Center who will review the information and make a final decision.
The decision of the Director may be grieved through out-of-agency mechanisms internal and external to Pace University. An intern who desires an out-of-agency hearing with the University will be directed to take his/her case to the Dean for Students, the University Ombud’s office, or some other appropriate office (such as the Office of Equal Opportunity), for further investigation and resolution according to University policy.
- The intern is required to complete additional readings, to complete additional coursework, or to attend relevant workshops in order to supplement knowledge in deficient areas.
- Increased monitoring of the intern’s performance is instituted by measures such as additional review of case notes and therapy tapes by the primary supervisor and/or other designated senior staff.
- The intern is required to obtain therapy in order to address personal issues that are seen as interfering with her/his professional development or behavior.
- Failure to make adequate progress in a Remedial Action Plan.
- Consistent lack of responsibility in one’s professional duties at the Center.
- Significant emotional instability or impairment that interferes with the ability to deliver adequate services to clientele or to work with other professionals.
- A serious breach of the ethical standards of APA or the laws of New York.
- Continuation of the probationary period.
- Provision of a negative evaluation of the intern to the home program and other appropriate parties.
- Extension of the training experience at Center. In situations where the intern’s behaviors and/or skills need remediation, and where the trainee has made some progress toward change, but where sufficient progress has not been made prior to the end of the training program, the intern may be allowed to extend her/his stay at the Center in order to complete the requirements. This decision is completely at the discretion of the Center staff. In some cases, the intern may be recommended to complete part or all of a second internship. In any case, the intern must demonstrate a capacity and willingness for full remediation, and the home program will be notified and consulted.
- Notification to the home program that the training program has not been successfully completed with a possible recommendation that the home program require the intern to complete additional training experiences prior to moving forward in their program. The Center is not responsible for the provision of the additional training.
- Suspension or dismissal.
- An inability and or unwillingness to acquire and integrate professional standards into one’s repertoire of professional behaviors.
- An inability to acquire professional skills in order to reach an acceptable level of competency.
- An inability to control personal stress, psychological dysfunction, and/or strong emotional reactions.
- More specifically, problems will typically become identified as impairments if they include one or more of the following characteristics:
- The intern does not acknowledge, understand or address the problem when it is identified.
- The problem is not merely a reflection of a skill deficit that can be rectified by academic or didactic training.
- The quality of services delivered by the intern is seriously impacted and not at an acceptable level for the Center.
- The problem is not restricted to one area of professional functioning.
- A disproportionate amount of attention by training staff is required.
- The intern’s behavior does not change as a function of feedback, remediation efforts, and/or time.