banner USF Home College of Arts & Sciences OASIS myUSF USF A-Z Index

USF Home > College of Arts and Sciences > Department of Psychology

Clinical Placements Policy and Procedures

General Purpose of the Policy and Committee

This page provides guidance for graduate students, faculty, and placement supervisors with regard to Placements. The Placement Committee oversees all psychology-related activities, including paid or volunteer clinical, research and teaching activities. The Committee’s primary objective is to ensure that students engage in experiences appropriate to their training and that they receive adequate supervision in those experiences. Both factors have significant implications for future professional activities, including, but not limited to, licensure. The Committee strives to ensure that Placement-based clinical training meets the standards of the Program and the needs of its students.

Placement Committee Functions

The practical functions of the Placement Committee are to facilitate the optimal arrangement for the procurement of student placements, ongoing evaluations of student placements (by the student and the placement supervisor), and provide a mechanism for the clinical area to oversee various placements and students who are occupying such placements. Although the term "Placement" below refers to both paid and unpaid positions, it is typical for unpaid positions to be referred to as externships.

Membership

The Placement Committee is typically composed of the Director of Clinical Training, the Placement Chair (typically the Director of PSC), an additional Clinical faculty member, and three Clinical graduate students.


Placement Policy and Procedures

Eligibility for Placements

Priority for paid placements or unpaid externships will be given to students who are in years 6 or below at the start date of the position. Students who will be in their 7th year or above in the following year, cannot apply for any placements until all of the more junior students are funded. Students in years 7 and above will be strongly encouraged to primarily consider teaching and research positions. Unpaid externships are available only to students in years 3 and above.

Placement Fair and Placement Application

Each Spring Semester, a Placement Fair will take place that consists of external agencies meeting with our students to discuss potential positions for the coming year. In general, this will occur in the last week of March. All students and faculty are strongly encouraged to attend this meeting.

A specified period of time (generally two weeks following the Placement Fair) will be designated each year for outside agencies to conduct interviews. Following the completion of interviews, a specified period of time will be designated for outside agencies to make offers and for students to evaluate and accept offers. Agencies and students should adhere to these dates for conducting interviewing and for selection activities.

Announcement of Available Placements

All available placements are listed in the Placement Book located in the Clinic Bullpen so that all students may have equal access to information about existing and new positions. Information regarding all current available placements - including contact person, phone number and whether or not the position has been filled - is contained in the spreadsheet at the front of the book. The Placement Book also contains individual entries for every placement, including detailed information about each one. These listings are monitored by the Placement Committee. Listings are based on the Placement Committee’s prior evaluations of the potential positions.

The only positions that will not be included in the Placement Book will be grant-related research positions with core clinical faculty members. In these cases, it is in the best interest of the faculty member and the student that the position be filled by a student who is actively working with the faculty member in the specified area of research. Apart from these cases, all available paid and unpaid positions must be listed in the Placement Book.

New Placements

Students have to inform the clinical faculty regarding any work or appointment to which they intend to apply outside of the department or not sponsored by the area (i.e., not part of our externship/placement system), including during the summer. The faculty have vetted the supervisors and placement sites that are currently sponsored by the program, to ensure the best possible training of our students consistent with our clinical scientist values. When new opportunities come up for students, please submit information to the faculty for review before you apply for these or commit to them. You can do this in one of two ways:

  • If students hear about potential paid/unpaid positions, they should have the supervisor at the potential placement submit information to the placement committee. Specifically, if it's a new placement/externship site (not in our placement system), and the site directors are interested in recruiting students from our program, the prospective supervisor or site must complete the Placement Information form online (http://psychology.usf.edu/grad/clinical/job_placement.aspx). The placement committee will review and consult with the clinical faculty.
  • If students are interested in working in a new site or appointment for which the placement information form is not relevant (e.g., summer camp, policy fellowship), please complete the Outside Work Request Form. The position will be reviewed by the clinical faculty and evaluated against program standards for clinical science training.

Approval to Apply

Students may not apply for any position that has not been pre-approved by the Placement Committee. In addition, each student must obtain permission from his/her major professor to seek employment with any specific agency. Students must discuss selected positions with the major professor before submitting Placement Application Approval Form which will be received by the Area Director, Placement Committee Chair, and the major professor.

Length of Placement

To insure equity and varied practicum experiences for all students, no student will be allowed to remain with one agency for more than one year. Exceptions to this rule may be granted, but only under highly unusual conditions. Petitions to do so must be submitted to the Placement Committee for consideration. This petition should consist of a brief written statement indicating the overall benefits to the student’s long-term professional goals that may be afforded by remaining in the current placement. The petition should also be accompanied by a letter of support from the major professor. These materials should be forwarded to the DCT, who will review the petition with members of the Placement Committee. The one exception to this rule is for students hired on faculty grants in that such conditions provide optimal circumstances for students to become well-versed in a particular research domain as well as providing opportunities for them to make progress on their own thesis and dissertation research.

Time Commitment to Placements

Complete adherence to this policy, including full reporting of all work hours, paid or unpaid, is expected of our students.

Students are discouraged from working more than a total of 24 hours per week across paid or unpaid positions, and require approval to do so. This includes paid and unpaid research, clinical, and teaching activities that are outside the student's primary laboratory (please note, for the purposes of this form, a .50 FTE appointment is defined as 16 hours/week). Any extra work above 24 hours (paid or unpaid) per week that the student undertakes requires the Extra Hours Request Form (see Clinical Placements Policy and Procedures on our program website). The purpose of this request is to inform faculty of student extra hour activities and for the faculty to provide the most appropriate recommendation to ensure student success in the program. Upon completion of this form, the following steps should be taken:

  1. Meet with major professor to discuss the extra hour request and receive approval.
  2. Email completed form with major advisor approval to the DCT (with major professor cc'ed).

In most cases, such requests will be evaluated by the faculty through an email exchange initiated by the DCT. In the event that a concern is expressed during this process, the major professor will have to attend and present the student's request during the next clinical faculty meeting for further discussion. The decision to approve such requests is made by the whole clinical faculty, not just the DCT or major professor, and is made based on the specific case of the student progress and training goals.

Although paid and unpaid research positions not involving direct clinical services (e.g., data analyst, position conducting literature reviews) do not fall under the purview of the Clinical Placement committee, these positions are still reported as hours worked. For example, formal positions outside your primary mentor's laboratory such as clinical intake assessor, primary therapist (on a clinical trial), data analyst, or project director should be reported if takes you over 24 hours per week of total work, although these positions are not governed by the Placement Committee. Hours associated with informal research collaborations across laboratories (e.g., data analysis and manuscript write-ups, co-investigators on a research project) do not require reporting. Therefore, all formal clinical and research positions (paid or unpaid) outside a student's primary laboratory are considered working hours as defined in the extra working hours policy below.

Note: The Psychology Department does not approve any total paid work above 30 hours per week, and they require approval for paid work at USF involving 20-29 total hours of paid work per week (including a combination of positions in the USF system). Students can use the Extra Hours Request Form to first obtain approval from the clinical faculty and then to seek departmental approval for paid work over 20 hours per week.

Acceptance of Placements

After the student has decided to accept a specific placement’s offer (during the Spring Placement Period), he or she notifies the Placement Committee of that decision by way of the Placement Acceptance Form located in the Clinic Bullpen Room. This form should be returned promptly to the PSC Administrative Specialist. At nontraditional times of year, placements may be accepted via an e-mail to the Placement Chair (who will notify Ms. Truax for proper record keeping).


Student Responsibilities

In addition to the foregoing policies and procedures, graduate students are required to engage in a range of behaviors which facilitate the optimal management of the placement of students with external agencies.

Required PSC responsibilities

Students who are working in placements must also recognize that their required clinical work within the PSC continues at the same level (minimum number of clients depending on year in the clinic) and standard. The PSC is the Program's means of providing for training in competent, professional, and ethical practice, as well as the application of empirically-supported/evidence-based treatment. Hence, the PSC training requirement for students in years 1 thru 5 is not affected by students seeking or working in outside placements. In addition, the quality of work within the PSC serves as one indication of students' readiness for outside placement, as well as the potential for working extra clinical hours (see below).

Malpractice Insurance

Students are required to obtain malpractice insurance through an insurance company sponsored by the American Psychological Association (APA): APA Membership Services, 1200 17th Street NW, Washington, DC 20036; phone number (703) 247-7760. For further information on APA insurance, call 1-800-296-7847 or 1-202-955-7780 or go to www.apait.org. Students are not permitted to see clients without this coverage, and all students should begin to obtain this coverage in the Fall of their first year. Evidence of insurance should be submitted to the Clinic Administrative Assistant.

New Placements

If a student hears about a potential placement, it is his/her responsibility to directly contact the Placement Committee, which will then interact with individuals responsible for the creation of the new position. If an agency contacts the student about a new position, the student should inform the agency of our administrative procedures for handling new positions (Completion of the Job Placement Information Form and pass along appropriate contact information).

Evaluations of Placements

Students are required to evaluate their placements at the end of the year (this does not include placements with a student’s advisor). These Job Placement Evaluation Forms will be placed in your mailbox by the Placement Committee and should be returned to the Clinic Administrative Assistant in a timely manner. Please indicate on the form attached to your ratings whether you would like to make your ratings available to other students. Your evaluation of the supervisor will be detached from your ratings form and will be viewed only by faculty members of the Placement Committee. A separate Placement Review Book will be compiled which will include the information about the placement as well as your overall ratings of the placement in general (minus supervisor ratings.)

For new placements, students should provide feedback (verbally or by e-mail) on a weekly basis for the first month of the placement and then on a monthly basis thereafter with their advisor. At the end of a semester, the placement should be reviewed with the placement chair/committee. Any issues raised at prior reviews, should be shared with the placement chair.

Reporting Placement Concerns

If there are any issues which the student feels need to be discussed regarding his or her placement, the student should contact members of the Placement Committee immediately. These issues may include a variety of circumstances, but the key issue is the student's concerns and/or distress regarding some component of the placement. These factors may include, but are not limited to, overload in terms of work assignment; inappropriate work assignments; sexual harassment; lack of training, inadequate supervision.


Training Guidelines for Placement Positions

The Placement Committee notes that there are a variety of placement positions, with some emphasizing clinical training and others emphasizing research training. Nonetheless, it is important to devise minimum guidelines to insure that all students receive adequate training in these aspects of psychology. Therefore, the following requirements for “minimum training” are offered:

Minimum training requirements for a “clinical” position

  1. assessment experience (consisting of test administration, scoring, interpretation and report writing) and supervision
  2. therapy experience (individual, family, behavioral parent training, couples, and/or group therapy)
  3. involvement in clinical team meetings (if available)
  4. clinically relevant research or program evaluation

To meet the minimum requirements, a 16 hour per week placement should offer experiences in at least two of the above. Positions less than 16 hours per week need only meet one of the first four criteria. In addition, all clinical placements must provide two hours of face-to-face supervision (individual or group) per 16 hours of clinical work. One half of this supervision must be provided by a licensed psychologist, who must oversee the remaining supervision. Supervision in positions that are fewer than 16 hours per week should be prorated accordingly.

Research training (for on-campus assignments also)

  1. involvement in the formulation of a research plan
  2. involvement in research meetings
  3. data collection
  4. data analysis
  5. project write-up or presentation

Three of the above options should be offered for a placement to meet the minimum training requirements for research. However, if the site also offers access to at least one aspect of the above described clinical training components, that component could serve as one of the three necessary components for the minimum training requirement. (It should be noted that “data entry” does not count toward a minimum training requirement for the research position.)

Teaching Assistantships

One hour of face-to-face supervision per week is required (group or individual). If the student is involved in teaching, part of this supervision should include instructions in teaching skills.


Guidelines for Evaluation

Criteria for new placements

New placements will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

  1. Supervision by an individual approved by the Placement Committee. One half of the face-to-face supervision must be provided by a licensed psychologist, who must oversee the remaining supervision. If a placement and supervisor have already been approved and the supervisor creates a new position that is determined by the Placement Committee to be substantially similar to the original position, then the new position will be considered approved through blanket approval to the supervisor.
  2. No more than 16 hours work per week, with consideration of scheduled departmental colloquia and training events.
  3. Specific placement description, consisting of an adequate discussion of the responsibilities (approved by the Placement Committee for posting).
  4. Meets minimum training requirements as outlined above.
  5. Competitive salary/benefits (determined by the Placement Committee).
  6. Acceptable student ratings at the end of the first year of a new placement and potentially upon review at five years for established positions.
  7. Required for new and existing placements: Placement supervisors willing to provide evaluative feedback regarding student performance to the Placement Committee at the end of the placement year. These evaluation forms should be returned to the Clinic Administrative Assistant. They are reviewed by the Placement Chair before being filed in a student's confidential file. The Placement Committee is also trying to move away from this system to a web based system where the Placement Supervisor's Evaluation of the Student Form is completed electronically on the USF Clinical Placement Website. Completion of this form would trigger an e-mail to the Placement Chair. The Placement Chair would then have an electronic record of the evaluation of the student without needing any paper forms. This form could then be shared electronically with the DCT.
  8. In general, commercial private practice settings will not be approved.
  9. Agencies who provide supervision by licensed psychologists from APA-approved programs will be given high priority for approval.
  10. Agencies will be asked to include a description of the role of the psychologist within the placement setting: e.g., how the psychologist functions, responsibilities, level of authority, etc.
  11. Whether the training experience and supervision is congruent with the program’s clinical scientist orientation, as indexed by factors such as drawing upon psychological research to support clinical decisions, and the use of empirically supported assessments and interventions.