Student Wellness Initiative Toward Community Health

SWITCH Frequently Asked Questions

Student Wellness Initiative Toward Community Health

SWITCH
1528 20th Street West
Saskatoon, SK  S7M  0Z6
(306) 956-2518
http://switchclinic.ca  

What is SWITCH?  

SWITCH is a student-managed interdisciplinary wellness project based out of Westside Community Clinic (1528 20th Street West). The aim of the project is to provide after-hours health services to the residents of Saskatoon’s core neighbourhoods. Started in 2005 by a group of medical students from the University of Saskatchewan, SWITCH is now staffed by approximately 800 student volunteers and 60 professional mentors from a variety of post-secondary programs, institutions, and disciplines. 

On a typical SWITCH shift, student volunteers, under the supervision of professional mentors, provide a variety of services for clients. Our clinical team is comprised of professionals and students from the following disciplines: medicine, social work, cultural support mentor (Elder), pharmacy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech language pathology, nursing, clinical psychology, paediatrics, gynaecology, reiki, chiropractic, acupuncture, herbology, reflexology, iridology, and naturopathic medicine. Additionally, the following outreach services are provided: educational programming for adults and children, all-ages homework help centre, nutritious meals, childcare, and assistance with transportation. 

When and where will SWITCH operate? 

SWITCH provides its clinical and outreach services on Monday and Wednesday evenings from 5:30-8:00pm at the Westside Community Clinic (1528 20th Street West).  Volunteers

On each shift, there will be:

  • physician or nurse practitioner, social worker, cultural support mentor (Elder) and receptionist
  • interprofessional mentors from faculty or local agencies
  • interprofessional student volunteers from the UofS, UofR, SaskPolytech, SIIT, and FNU

Will mentors be paid? 

Mentors will be paid a $100 honorarium per four-hour shift. Mentors also have the opportunity to donate their mentor fees back to SWITCH for a charitable tax receipt.

Will mentors be covered by liability insurance? 

Mentors will be covered by CHSA's liability policy for general liability insurance. All mentors are responsible for their own professional liability insurance.

What will be my responsibilities as a mentor? 

The responsibilities as a mentor may include (but are not be limited to):

  • providing clinical supervision for students from your discipline
  • providing interprofessional guidance for students from other disciplines
  • maintaining and monitoring the policies of the Westside Community Clinic (charting, protocols, policies, etc.)
  • monitoring adherence to the SWITCH scopes of practice for each discipline
  • providing feedback to SWITCH about how to better operations
  • working with SWITCH staff and students to provide best practice interdisciplinary holistic health care for patients and an interdisciplinary educational experience for students

How do I get more information or sign up to become a mentor? 

Contact SWITCH at (306) 956-2518 or email: switchmentors@gmail.com or switchclinic@gmail.com

Guidelines for Summer Clerkships

General expectations for summer clerkships are as follows:

  • Taken following Year 1 of the program.
  • 15 weeks at 4 days per week, or equivalent, allowing one full day per week for research.
  • Minimum of 4 hours weekly supervision, of which at least 2 hours should be regularly scheduled individual supervision.
  • Exposure to a variety of clients and professional roles (assessment, therapy, consultation, program evaluation).
  • Informal mutual verbal evaluation after 2 months; formal mutual evaluation at the end of the placement.
  • Beginning with an orientation to the setting (e.g., meeting all professional staff; learning the agency's expectations concerning scheduling, appropriate clothing, etc. observing the work of professional staff; learning recording procedures and office requirements).
  • It is desirable to create a written agreement specifying the student's goals and planned clinical activities and the plans for group and individual supervision. A copy of this agreement should be given to the Director of Clinical Training.

The following expectations for practicum and clerkship training are derived from CPA accreditation criteria:

  • Practicum training should facilitate the development of the following important capacities:
  • understanding of and commitment to professional and social responsibility as defined by the statutes of the ethical code of the profession,
  • the capability to conceptualize human problems,
  • awareness of the full range of human variability,
  • understanding of one's own personality and biases and of one's impact upon others in professional interactions,
  • skill in relevant interpersonal interactions such as systematic observation of behavior, interviewing, psychological testing, psychotherapy, counselling, and consultation, and
  • ability to contribute to current knowledge and practice.

Expectations for practica

  • Total time normally 7 to 9 hours per week; no more than 12 hours per week.
  • Including at least 2 hours per week of scheduled supervision (of which at least 1 hour is individual).
  • Including 2 to 5 hours of direct contact with clients per week.
  • Beginning in September and ending in April (24-26 weeks).
  • Beginning with an orientation to the setting (e.g. meeting all professional staff; learning the agency's expectations concerning scheduling, appropriate clothing, etc.; observing the work of professional staff; learning recording procedures and office requirements).
  • Informal mutual verbal evaluation mid-year; formal mutual written evaluation at end of practicum.
  • It is desirable to create a written agreement specifying the student's goals and planned clinical activities and the plans for group and individual supervision. A copy of this agreement should be given to the Director of Clinical Training.
  • Professional liability insurance in private practice settings:  If students in private practice settings do not already have liability coverage, they should obtain liability coverage prior to beginning the practicum.  Such liability insurance will be paid for by the practicum setting, exclusive of any required membership to obtain such coverage.  Reduced rates are available through student membership in the Canadian Psychological Association.

 

Process of matching students to practica

Information about available practica is made available to students (on the bulletin board in the mail room) in mid- to late August, and students are asked to rank order their top three choices by a date shortly before the beginning of the fall term. Matches of students to settings are made by the Coordinator of Practicum Training based on consideration of the following factors, among others:

  • the student's preference (many students are assigned to their first choice, all other things being equal)
  • the student's past placement and other experiences (normally, students are placed in settings that will broaden their experience in terms of client population, type of service offered, etc.)
  • the student's seniority (in the last practicum, efforts are made to provide missing or highly ranked experiences if possible)
  • personal circumstances of the student such as parenting or health issues
  • requests for assignment of particular students that may be made by agency practicum coordinators (e.g., when a specific previous training experience is required for a practicum).

None of these factors necessarily takes priority; instead, an effort is made to balance all of these so as to make assignments equitable across students in the long run.

The variety of practicum experiences made available through our program and the careful consideration given to matching students to placements are considered to be special strengths of our doctoral program in clinical psychology.

 

The following expectations for practicum and clerkship training are derived from CPA accreditation criteria:

Practicum training should facilitate the development of the following important capacities:

  • understanding of and commitment to professional and social responsibility as defined by the statutes of the ethical code of the profession,
  • the capability to conceptualize human problems,
  • awareness of the full range of human variability,
  • understanding of one's own personality and biases and of one's impact upon others in professional interactions,
  • skill in relevant interpersonal interactions such as systematic observation of behavior, interviewing, psychological testing, psychotherapy, counselling, and consultation, and
  • ability to contribute to current knowledge and practice.

All students are required to receive ratings of "meets expectations" or higher in all areas in order to pass the practicum. If a student does not meet this standard, remedial plans will be made by the Coordinator of Practicum Training based on the recommendations of the practicum supervisor. For example, the student may be asked to carry out additional supervised therapy and/or additional integrated assessments, or to meet a specified criterion such as error-free administration and scoring of a test, in order to advance to the next practicum.

 

Guidelines for a practicum training agreement between student and agency

To be created jointly as early as possible in the first month of the placement, or ideally prior to beginning a practicum placement.  The student is responsible for ensuring that this agreement is finalized with copies sent to the agency practicum coordinator and the university practicum coordinator.

  1. Student's name, address, telephone number, e-mail address
  2. Agency offering the practicum
    • Name of agency, department, program, site
    • Agency's practicum coordinator, telephone number, e-mail address
  3. Starting and ending dates (allow for 24-26 weeks -- the practicum should end no later than April 30)
  4. Days and hours of work (allow for 7-9 hours per week, with a maximum of 12 hours per week)
  5. Goals
    • Specify the major competencies, skills and values which the student hopes to acquire or develop during this practicum placement
    • Specify the ways in which diversity will be addressed in this placement (e.g., by exposure to clients from various ethnic or cultural backgrounds, religions, ages, sexual orientations, etc.)
  6. Intended activities
    • Expected number of clients of various types (assessment; treatment; individual, family, group, etc.)
    • Regular meetings which the student is expected to attend
    • Other activities
  7. Supervision
    • Names of primary and backup supervisors
    • Time and duration of supervisory meetings (see guidelines above)
    • Methods of supervision (live, video, audio, discussion, written feedback, etc.)
  8. Written work
    • Time frame for preparation of initial drafts (reports, progress notes, etc.)
    • Specify how feedback will be provided
    • Expected time frame for supervisor's feedback to student concerning written work
  9. Evaluation (see guidelines above)
    • Expected dates of mid-term/mid-year and final evaluation meetings
    • Indicate whether evaluation will be written or verbal
  10. Standards, guidelines, policies, and codes of conduct
    • Name any standards, guidelines, policies, codes, regulations, etc., that have been adopted by the agency and that may guide the student's conduct; certify that the student has been given copies of or access to these document.
    • In private practice settings: Identify any required arrangements for professional liability insurance.
  11. Problem resolution
    • Indicate procedures for managing and resolving student/supervisory issues which may arise during practicum.
    • Indicate name of university and agency persons to be approached for help in case of conflict with the supervisor or absence of the supervisor
  12. Signatures & dates
    • Student
    • Supervisor

Process for students to resolve difficulties



A. Process for Concerns Identified by Faculty or Student Peers

Under conditions where a significant problem is identified by a faculty member or other student peer (i.e., conditions that compromise a student's ability to achieve the competencies required of a psychologist or to achieve progress milestones), a faculty member will discuss this concern with the student experiencing the problem. At this stage, it is possible the faculty member will also consult, confidentiality, with CEC to advise them of the concern and consult regarding recommendations for action.

If problems are not resolved, or are egregious, CEC will review the relevant information and make recommendations that will also be conveyed to the Graduate Committee for action. Example recommendations might include discussion of the functional and foundational competencies that are not being met and outlining specific steps to help the student meet them, regular meetings regarding the concern with their faculty advisor and/or the DCT, considering personal therapy, temporary discontinuation of practicum, a formal remediation plan, recommendation of a temporary leave from the program, or discontinuation in the program. CEC recommendations are designed with the following goals in mind: protecting client care, the integrity of our profession, and supporting our students though difficulties as much as possible. Recommendations are generally designed to provide the student with as many opportunities to address the concern as possible and more severe recommendations (e.g., discontinuation from the program) are reserved for particularly serious concerns (i.e., ethical violations) or concerns that have not been amenable to remediation plans.

Initial discussion of such confidential student issues will be among faculty only.  When any formal recommendation to the Graduate Committee is to be considered, the student being discussed may request to attend the meeting, and/or may ask a faculty member to attend the meeting on his/her behalf to ensure that his/her interest or point of view is represented. In addition, a graduate student representative or ombudsperson from outside the Department of Psychology may be present as an observer (at the request of the student being discussed), on the understanding that s/he will comment only on due process issues. Such a student representative or ombudsperson may be sought through the Graduate Students' Association or the College of Graduate Studies and Research, at the discretion of the student being discussed. Appeals of recommendations regarding suspension, remediation, probation, or termination may be directed in the first instance to the Graduate Committee, then to the Department Head, and finally to the Dean of Graduate Studies and Research.

*Standards cited from the Canadian Code of Ethics for Psychologists:

II.11  Seek appropriate help and/or discontinue scientific or professional activity for an appropriate period of time, if a physical or psychological condition reduces their ability to benefit and not harm others.

II.12  Engage in self-care activities that help to avoid conditions (e.g., burnout, addictions) that could result in impaired judgment and interfere with their ability to benefit and not harm others.

B. Process for Students to Deal with Personal Difficulties

1. Process for students to deal with difficulties relating to clerkship or practicum

In the event that students experience difficulties* while on clerkship or practicum it is important that they initiate discussions with the appropriate person(s) as soon as possible to resolve/address the situation. Students should first discuss the difficulties, if possible, with their field supervisor(s). It may be helpful to informally consult with faculty members, as preparation for this discussion. 

In the event that discussions with the field supervisor(s) do not adequately address the difficulties, students should then bring the situation to the attention of the On-site Practicum Coordinator (if applicable) for the agency, and then, if necessary, to the Department of Psychology's Practicum Coordinator and Director of Clinical Psychology Training (DCT). If the difficulties still remain unresolved students should then bring the situation to the attention of the DCT. This process may be continued, if necessary, by contacting the other individuals listed below in the order shown.  Care and planning should occur before discussing problems informally with persons not directly involved in your program or training. A student can unwittingly place a fellow student, colleague, or faculty member in a difficult situation by "informally" discussing a situation which the recipient may construe as something which they must ethically act on.  Remember, when you start a conversation with someone about a clinical training matter, who decides what is and is not a consultation becomes a shared responsibility between the speaker and listener.

 

Field Supervisor

On-site Practicum Coordinator

Practicum Coordinator

Director of Clinical Psychology Training

Graduate Chair, Department of Psychology

Head, Department of Psychology

Dean (or designate), College of Graduate Studies and Research


*The word “difficulties” is used in the broadest sense and may refer to difficulties with supervision, the number of hours, the activities engaged in, etc. or personal difficulties.

 

2. Process for students to deal with difficulties relating to research

In the event that students experiences difficulties* relating to their research or to the process of research supervision, it is important that they initiate discussions with the appropriate person(s) as soon as possible to resolve/address the situation.  Students should first discuss the difficulties, if possible, with their primary research supervisor.  It may be helpful to informally consult with other faculty members as preparation for this discussion. 

In the event that discussions with the primary research supervisor do not adequately address the difficulties students should then bring the situation to the attention of the members of their research/thesis committee. If the difficulties still remain unresolved students should then bring the situation to the attention of the Director of Clinical Training.  This process may be continued, if necessary, by contacting the other individuals listed below in the order shown.

Care and planning should occur before discussing problems informally with persons not directly involved in your program or training. A student can unwittingly place a fellow student, colleague, or faculty member in a difficult situation by "informally" discussing a situation which the recipient may construe as something which they must ethically act on.  Remember, when you start a conversation with someone about a clinical training matter, who decides what is and is not a consultation becomes a shared responsibility between the speaker and listener.

Primary Research Supervisor

Member(s) of Research Advisory Committee

Director of Clinical Psychology Training

Graduate Chair, Department of Psychology

Head, Department of Psychology

Dean (or designate), College of Graduate Studies and Research


*The word difficulties is used in the broadest sense and may refer to difficulties with supervision, availability of resources, number of hours engaged in research, type of activities engaged in, etc. or personal difficulties.

C. Policy and Procedures for Student Remediation, Suspension, or Program Discontinuation

As noted above, students can be expected to face personal and professional challenges during the long journey of completing a Ph.D. from a clinical psychology program. There are helpful administrative procedures within existing Graduate Program and CGSR policy and many issues can be resolved on an informal basis. However, for particularly serious cases in which client care is adversely affected or students might be required to discontinue the Clinical Psychology training stream, the following policy has been adopted by the CEC. It is anticipated having such policy and procedures formalized will to help enhance fairness and rigor in decision making, reduce the stress and burden on students and faculty, and increase efficiency of such processes.

The guidelines presented below concerning suspension of clinical activity, steps to remediation, and requirement for discontinuation are either adopted directly from, or informed heavily by, the APA accredited clinical psychology program at Clark University, Worcester Massachusetts, with permission: https://www.clarku.edu/departments/psychology/grad/clinical

Suspension of Clinical Activity

Because clinical psychologists often work with vulnerable individuals, it is critical that students take their clinical responsibilities seriously, fulfill their clinical obligations, and generally conduct themselves in a professional manner. Repeated failure to do so could lead to suspension of clinical work. In general, there exist three ways in which students may be suspended from conducting clinical work. Fortunately, these cases are not common.

  1. Any student who is found to engage in unethical behavior will immediately be suspended from conducting clinical work or practicum training. These include, but are not limited to, the student’s use of inappropriate language or actions with clients, unprofessional behavior, violation of university rules, or violation of provincial jurisprudence or professional practice guidelines, all of which demonstrate the student is not meeting professional standards. 
  2. Students who receive multiple unsatisfactory reviews may be suspended from conducting clinical work/training for one semester. During this semester, the student will meet regularly with the DCT and the clinical supervisor to chart a corrective course of action (see section below on Remediation Procedures). Should the DCT deem that the student is eligible to return to clinical work following the suspension, the student will be considered on clinical probation. Clinical probation is a status under which any further unsatisfactory reviews may result in permanent prohibition of clinical training. In such extremely unusual cases, the clinical faculty would meet with the Department Head to discuss subsequent steps, which may include requiring the student to withdraw from the clinical program and/or the graduate program in general (see below).
  3. Students who have demonstrated poor performance in their academic work by virtue of having been assigned Probationary Status by the department may not conduct clinical work until such status has been corrected. This Probationary Status can be assigned to students for a variety of reasons, including receiving a failing grade in any class, making poor progress in the completion of their program of studies, presenting an inadequate or incomplete independent research project, or making poor progress in their dissertation research.

A student who has had to terminate a practicum for professional, ethical, or competence-based concerns  or has had to perform remediation on a practicum for will be required to disclose their evaluation and resolution of this matter to potential future practicum supervisors. Such disclosure would be done with the support of the practicum coordinator/DCT.

Remediation Policy and Procedures

Students who receive an unsatisfactory annual review or who have been suspended from conducting clinical work are required to meet with the DCT, and possibly their research advisor, in order to identify a specific set of remediation procedures that must be followed. On some occasions, a student may be asked to meet with the DCT to set up remediation procedures to address concerns about a student’s behavioral, academic, or ethical performance even if they do not reach the level of warranting either an unsatisfactory review or suspension of clinical work. For example, a student who receives a marginal evaluation in a particular course or who is making marginal progress in an MRA competency, or about whom the CEC has identified concerns may be asked to set up a remediation plan to address the concerns about that particular performance. In all cases, due process is utilized in resolving concerns about a student’s behavioral, academic, or ethical performance.

The general remediation procedure is outlined as follows. Please note that this is not necessarily a strictly linear process. For example, some steps might happen simultaneously or be repeated.

  1. Matter brought to attention of Director of Clinical Psychology Training (DCT)
  2. Concerns shared with student and relevant parties most directly affected. Clarification sought on the matter and all versions of events are obtained.
  3. Evaluate if informal resolution of matter is appropriate or if may require a formal response
  4. Matter discussed with CEC in camera
  5. Consultation with Graduate Chair, Department Head, College of Graduate Studies and Research and other relevant parties, as needed
  6. Decision made by CEC if a formal response is required. If formal response is required, CEC decides on feasibility of remediation vs suspension or discontinuation from clinical training
  7. CPA Code of Ethics, Saskatchewan College of Psychologists Professional Practice Guidelines, and College of Graduate Studies and Research policy on student academic and professional conduct are consulted to guide decision making.
  8. Remediation plan drafted by CEC or options for the student to consider if required to suspend or discontinue clinical training will be formalized.
  9. CEC decision and rationale is written up as a formal document/letter to be shared with the student. Should the student’s status change, specific expectations that the student must meet before the student is reconsidered for reinstatement to full status in the program will be clearly outlined in the letter.
  10. The letter will be written by the DCT, in consultation with the student’s faculty advisor, and the Department Head. The letter will include:
    1. A description of the issues to be addressed
    2. A plan for addressing each issue
    3. A description of any previous efforts to address or prevent each issue
    4. Criteria for determining that the issues have been remedied or resolved
    5. A timeline for review
  11. The DCT, in conjunction with the student, determines the nature, type, and frequency of subsequent reviews.
  12. If the student, having notification of the faculty member(s)’s recommendations, believes the procedure to be unjust or the decision to be unfair, or that new information could lead to a different decision, he/she may present an appeal in writing to the DCT.
  13. If a student is to be suspended from participation in training, he/she must be notified in writing. The letter will state the time frames and limits of the temporary suspension and its rationale. A copy of the letter is to be maintained in the student’s permanent file.
  14. In the case of remediation the student’s progress on the plan will be monitored by the CEC.

Student Discontinuation from Clinical Program

Student requirement to discontinue from the clinical program could occur for one of the following two reasons:

1. Inability or unwillingness to satisfactorily address concerns raised in an unsatisfactory review through the remediation process (see above). This is also in keeping with College of Graduate Studies and Research policy for the Requirement to Discontinue:

http://www.usask.ca/cgsr/policy-and-procedure/requirement-to-discontinue.php

2. Conduct that is deemed so egregiously unprofessional or unethical that remediation is not appropriate. When such situations arise, program faculty must review the student’s behavior at the next available program meeting. Prior to this meeting, the faculty member involved (e.g., supervisor or DCT) will notify the affected student as to the issues and concerns. The student may choose to work with this faculty person, or another faculty person, to present information to the faculty. Information may be presented in verbal or written form. Upon request through the DCT, the student may be invited to appear before the CEC to present her/his side of the issues.

After presentation of information by all parties involved, the CEC, in consultation with the Graduate Chair and Department Head will then determine whether the student’s behavior warrants a recommendation to the College of Graduate Studies and Research for formal discontinuation. If the student is not dismissed, the faculty must specify the specific contingencies for retention including the behavioral change necessary (see section on Remediation Procedures), the criteria and process to be used in evaluating progress, and the dates by which change must be evidenced. The student’s advisory committee will be responsible for monitoring the remediation program and bringing information back to the faculty within the guidelines and timelines established. Failure to satisfactorily complete the remediation program will result in discontinuation of the program.

Grievance Procedures

In general, students who feel that they have not been treated fairly should follow the grievance procedures through the University of Saskatchewan’s Graduate Students’ Association (GSA). Students are encouraged to make efforts to resolve the problem with the relevant faculty member through informal discussion. In the event that the student feels that such discussions have not led to a fair outcome, the student should then consult with the DCT. If the student remains unsatisfied, he or she may ask the Graduate Program Chair to convene a meeting of Graduate Program coordinators in an effort to resolve the matter. Students who believe that they have not been treated fairly through such procedures may also bring their grievance to the Associate Dean of the College of Graduate Studies and Research.