From an administrative standpoint, the program is supervised by the Internship Director of Clinical Training, who oversees and implements intern recruitment and selection, matching of interns to faculty preceptors, and coordination of clinical and research experiences. The Director of Clinical Training is responsible to the Chief of the Mental Health Service for productive operation of the training program. Each intern selects a preceptor from available staff psychologists for year-round consultation and support to ensure a balanced range of clinical experiences. The function of the preceptor is to guide the student in the choice of clinical assignments, to assist in development and implementation of research activities, engage in professional development, and to aid in problem-solving throughout the internship year. Intern and supervisor evaluations are documented sixtimes annually, and written reports are forwarded at least annually to university training directors. The Director of Clinical Training, in concert with the preceptor, insures that internship experiences successfully meet an intern’s training needs.
The Training Year
Graduate students accepted for psychology internship training arrive at the SLVHCS for a full year beginning in July Incoming interns receive a full orientation during the first two weeks of the training year, including opportunities to meet with staff, review training options, and select a preceptor from among available staff psychologists. A working plan specifying three four month rotations is developed for each intern during the second full week of the training year. Rotations may be half time rotations or full time rotations. Interns may participate in rotations at community based outpatient clinics as well as in the New Orleans clinics. Rotation options are detailed in following sections of this brochure.
Interns electing to complete an APA accredited Clinical Specialty option in the Traumatic Stress Recovery Program will commit the equivalent of up to two full rotations to the specialty area. These rotations include those supervised by: Drs. Arseneau, Cuccurullo, Franklin, Hamilton, Vigil, Vaught, and Walton.
In addition to ongoing rotations, interns establish a long term project to be completed followed throughout the year. This may consist of cases that are generated during initial rotation assignments early in the training year, but may also be selected to reflect other training interests or specific case types requested by the intern. Supervision for each long-term case normally will be provided throughout the year by the supervisor initially assigned to the case. In some instances, longer-term group activities may be substituted in part for individual cases. It may also include projects such as assessment or program evaluation.
Interns are encouraged to participate throughout the year in some type of research or educational project associated within an area of interest. Interns may pursue applied or experimental studies by participation in an ongoing staff project or by executing an independent but supervised research effort under the direction of a staff member. Selection and structuring of research projects and/or research collaboration begins during the first month of the internship year, and staff members guide interns in completing their investigative goals by providing necessary assistance in obtaining materials, subjects, and other support. Current VA research resources include an expanded virtual library and computer facilities.
Interns receive a minimum of two scheduled hours of individual supervision per week during a full time rotation from the staff psychologist formally assigned to the rotation. In actual practice, the amount of real supervision is typically much greater due to daily supervisor trainee interactions in joint sessions with patients, etc. In total interns receive four hours of supervision per week. Although the specifics of such ongoing supervision experiences will vary depending upon rotation, a relatively high level of routine working contact between staff psychologists and interns is characteristic of all rotation options. The intern cohort also meets for an hour or more each week as a group with the Director of Clinical Training.
Each intern chooses a preceptor from our staff of 18 psychologists for the training year. The preceptor’s role is to help the intern negotiate the internship program, integrate feedback from various supervisors, and plan for post-internship goals. Interns have an average of two hours per month of supervised contact with their preceptor.
Formal evaluations of intern performance are completed at the three, six, nine, and twelve month points of the training year. Supervisors complete the General Clinical Competency Assessment Form, providing ratings of the intern's performance in key areas as well as narrative statements regarding strengths and weaknesses of the trainee or other relevant comments. Interns read and sign these evaluations. These materials become a part of the intern's permanent file kept by Mental Health Service, which is available to the Training Committee.
If evaluations of an intern indicate that he/she has an educational or skill deficiency that compromises the quality of professional performance, it is the responsibility of the intern's primary supervisor to discuss the deficiency with the intern, define the problem, and suggest procedures for remediation (e.g., special instruction, experience in a new training setting, etc.). The intern's preceptor may also be involved in this discussion. If the problem cannot be resolved by the primary supervisor or preceptor, he/she will consult the Director of Clinical Training with the intern. If the difficulty is of a serious nature, the Director of Clinical Training will convene a meeting of the Training Committee to describe, evaluate, and seek resolution for the problem. These procedures will be in accord with established guidelines for confidentiality and protection of the intern's right of due process.
Compensation and Benefits
Interns receive a stipend of $23,974 for the 2016-2017 training year, paid biweekly. Interns also are eligible for the full range of health and life insurance options available to all Federal employees. As with staff psychologists, professional liability coverage for all mandated intern activity is provided by the Federal Tort Claims Act. Benefits include 13 vacation days, 13 sick days, 10 federal holidays, approved educational and professional leave, and health insurance. Additionally interns are able to utilize authorized absence for workshops and presentations