The SVDIP program is committed to maintaining a harmonious working relationship with its interns and believes that this is best accomplished by maintaining open lines of communication, fair and consistent application of policies, rules and regulations and, when needed, a formal complaint process.
The SVDIP program has established a formal procedure for resolving intern complaints. Interns who believe that they have experienced an action that resulted from improper or inconsistent application of the internship policies, rules or procedures have the right to file an official complaint. Prior to filing a complaint, interns should attempt to resolve the issue with their supervisor. The intern’s human resource representative is available to assist in resolving the issue.
In the event that the issue cannot be resolved informally, a formal written complaint must be filed within 30 days of the disputed action. Complaints should be filed with the SVDIP Training Committee. The Training Committee will investigate the complaint and will render a written decision within 30 days of receipt of the formal documentation. Should the intern disagree with the decision rendered by the Training Committee, he/she is entitled to request that the SVDIP Board of Directors and/or the Clinical Director at the intern’s academic institution review the complaint. The Board of Directors and Clinical Director will review all documentation and the rendered decision will be considered final.
An intern dealing with substance abuse problems will be considered on a case-by-case basis and may be allowed to continue his/her assignment. The continuation of the assignment will depend upon the circumstances and is at the sole discretion of the SVDIP Chief Psychologist and Internship Director. Interns with substance abuse problems will be encouraged to seek treatment.
Board of Directors
The SVDIP Board of Directors is a committee comprised of three members from the surrounding community who agreed to provide mediation/decision making in the event that an unresolvable dispute between an intern and any member of the training staff arises. Members include:
- Elizabeth Bovin-Smith, MS, Executive Director, Alzheimer’s Association, Northeastern New York Chapter
- Katherine Baum, PhD, Licensed Neuropsychologist
- Lawrence Cherkis, Esq, Retired Attorney
Due Process Procedures
All interns receive a written statement of program expectations for professional functioning.
- Evaluation procedures are clearly stipulated, including when and how evaluations will be conducted.
- The procedures and actions for making decisions about problematic performance or conduct are outlined in written statements given to all interns.
- Graduate programs are informed about difficulties with interns.
- Remediation plans are instituted for identified inadequacies, and they include time frames for remediation and specify consequences for failure to rectify the inadequacies.
- All interns receive a written description of procedures they may use to appeal the program’s actions, and procedures they may use to file grievances.
- Interns are given sufficient time to respond to any action taken by the program.
- Decisions or recommendations regarding the intern’s performance or conduct are based on input from multiple professional sources.
- Program actions and their rationale are documented in writing to all relevant parties.
Definition of Problematic Behaviors Performance and/or Conduct
Problem behaviors are said to be present when supervisors perceive that a trainee’s behaviors, attitudes, or characteristics are disrupting the quality of his/her clinical performance and/or movement toward competencies; his/her relationships with peers, supervisors, or other staff; or his/her ability to comply with appropriate standards of professional behavior. It is a matter of professional judgment as to when an intern’s problem behaviors are serious enough to fit the definitions of problematic performance or conduct rather than merely being typical problem behaviors often found among trainees.
Problematic performance and/or problematic conduct are present when there is interference in professional functioning that renders the intern: unable and/or unwilling to acquire and integrate professional standards into his/her repertoire of professional behavior; unable to acquire professional skills that reach an acceptable level of competency; or unable to control personal stress that leads to dysfunctional emotional reactions or behaviors that disrupt professional functioning.
Internship Procedures for Responding to Problematic Behavior, Performance or Conduct
SVDIP has put in place procedures to guide its response to interns with problematic behavior, performance or conduct. Any negative evaluation or complaint will be reviewed and a determination made as to what action needs to be taken to address the problems. The intern will be notified in writing, no more then 30 days after an evaluation has transpired or a complaint has been received, that a review is occurring and that the Training Committee is ready to receive any information or statement that the intern wishes to provide with reference to the identified problems. After reviewing all available information, the Training Committee may adopt one or more of the following steps, or take other appropriate action:
- The committee may elect to take no further action.
- The committee may issue a warning notice that formally states that the committee has reviewed the negative evaluation and it has been brought to the intern’s attention and that the intern in combination with his or her supervisor(s) will work to rectify the problem in a specified time frame.
- The committee may issue a probation notice that formally states that the intern in question will be systematically monitored for a given amount of time in order to address, change, and/or otherwise improve the problem. This notice will include a description of the problem in question, specific steps to rectify it, the amount of time the intern has to rectify it and the procedures the committee will use to assess if the problem has been corrected.
- Following the administration of either a warning or a probation notice, the Internship Director will meet with said intern to review the notice. The intern may elect to accept the conditions or may challenge the committee’s actions as outlined below. In either case, the Internship Director will inform the intern’s sponsoring graduate program, and provide a copy of the notice which details the nature of the inadequacy and the steps put forward to correct it. The intern shall receive a copy of the letter to the sponsoring graduate program.
- Once the Training Committee has issued a warning or probation notice, the status of the problem detailed in the notice will be reviewed either at the next formal evaluation or in the time frame set by the notice.
Failure to Correct Problems
When the steps set forth in a notice do not rectify the problem after the allotted time, or if the intern seems unable or unwilling to alter his/her behavior, the Training Committee may choose to conduct another review. After this review has taken place, the intern will be informed in writing that the issue(s) have not been adequately addressed during the period set forth by the notice. The committee may then elect to take any of the following steps, or other appropriate action.
- If a warning notice was issued initially, the intern may then be placed on probation.
- If a probation notice was issued initially, it may extend the probation for a specified time period.
- It may suspend the intern with or without pay whereby the intern is not allowed to continue engaging in certain professional activities until there is evidence that the problem behaviors in question have been rectified.
- The Internship Director may request a review by outside, non-supervising psychologists if there is a question regarding the intern’s successful completion of the internship.
- It may inform the intern and the intern’s sponsoring graduate program, that the intern will not successfully complete the internship if his/her behavior does not change. The Committee may specify those settings in which the intern can or cannot function adequately. If by the end of the training year the intern has not successfully completed the training requirements, then the Training Committee may inform the intern and the intern’s sponsoring graduate program that the intern has not successfully completed the internship.
- It may inform the intern and the intern’s sponsoring graduate program that the Training Committee is recommending that the intern be terminated immediately from the internship program. The intern in question will then be terminated immediately from the internship program.
Challenges to Grievance Procedures
Interns who receive a Warning or Probation Notice, or who otherwise disagree with any Training Committee decision regarding their status in the program, are entitled to challenge the Committee’s actions by initiating a grievance procedure. This is done independently of the Training Committee’s actions as described in the Failure to Correct Problems section above.
If the recommendation is made that the intern be terminated, it is at the discretion of the training committee when the intern would be terminated. An appeals process can take place either during the suspension from the internship or following termination. Within 5 working days of receipt of the Training Committee’s notice or other decision, the intern must inform the Internship Director in writing that he or she is challenging the Committee’s action. The intern then has 5 additional working days to provide the Internship Director with information as to why the intern believes the Training Committee’s action is unwarranted. Failure to provide such information will constitute a withdrawal of the challenge. Following receipt of the intern’s challenge, the following actions will be taken.
- The Internship Director will convene the Board of Directors to meet to review all facts pertaining to the issue. The intern retains the right to hear all facts and the opportunity to dispute or explain his or her behavior.
- The Board of Directors will conduct a review hearing in which the intern’s challenge is heard and the evidence presented. The Board of Directors’ decisions will be made by majority vote. Within 5 days of completion of the review hearing, the Board of Directors will prepare a report on its decisions and recommendations and will inform the intern and the intern’s sponsoring graduate program of its decisions.
Intern Complaint/Grievance about Supervisor, Staff Member, Training or Training Program
Interns are employees of the Clinical Neuroscience Research Associates (d/b/a The Memory Clinic) and, as such, are entitled to the avenues open to all employees concerning problems that may come up during their internship year. In general, employees are encouraged to discuss concerns, complaints, and grievances with their immediate supervisors, and to take those concerns up the supervisory chain of command if the situation is unresolved after discussion with the immediate supervisor. All unresolved grievances will be addressed in the manner described above.