Dear Clinical Training Directors, Supervisors, and Site Coordinators,

March 13, 2020
 
As you know, the COVID-19 pandemic is a dynamic situation that is impacting our communities dramatically. One of many of the impacts is to our practicum students and sites who are diligently serving clients throughout this time. We would like you to know what PAU is currently doing to address clinical training processes during this time. At this point, PAU has made the move to placing residential classes online for the next few weeks in an effort to be part
of the containment solution. Currently, these changes have no direct implication for the student’s requirements as an intern on your site. All clinical students have some specific regulatory requirements that are part of accreditation and state rules graduation and subsequent license eligibility.
 
We do not want to make any decisions that will impact student eligibility to participate in their practicum. The student and the site will have to make an individual decision about providing clinical services at your site. we recognize that therapists and clinical practitioners are responsible for the care of their clients/patients. Each individual practicum site manages how they are handling the COVID-19 outbreak and should inform students/interns of its process, much in the same manner PAU will continue to do. Health services do not characteristically stop due to outbreak situations. Hospitals and those institutions involved in patient care typically stay open. Similarly, students who are placed in school-based practicum or internship sites should follow procedures and plans set in place by school districts. If schools remain open, we anticipate that PAU students will continue in their capacity as trainees and work with site supervisors to ensure they understand safety protocols and preparedness plans.
 
While we are in talks with the BBS (licensure) and CACREP (accreditation), we cannot guarantee that these entities will provide any flexibility in terms of the number of direct hour requirements and these decisions that could impact student graduation timelines. We are very
aware of the difficulty of this decision-making process and we are closely monitoring BBS and CACREP directives. We will send information out to you as soon as it is received.
 
Further:
1) PAU has established a specific COVID-19 clinical training committee that meets every
morning to address questions and concerns that are coming from students, sites, and other
entities that are directly related to clinical training as well as to strategize for future impacts on
our students in regard to clinical hours, supervision, and graduation. Dr. Donna Sheperis,
Associate Chair for Clinical Training for the Master’s in Counseling program, is a member of
that committee and has been meeting and will continue to meet daily to represent our program,
students, and sites.
2) The Master’s of Counseling Clinical Training Team, Drs. Donna Sheperis, Jennie Ju, Cristen
Wathen and Sarah Kimbel, Director of Clinical Training Management Supports, are meeting
weekly and communicating daily throughout this time period to work for our students and with
the university to meet these needs.
As a CACREP accredited counseling program, students are required to meet standards set by the
CACREP board regarding practicum and internship hours. This standard is 100 hours for
practicum (40 face to face/direct and 100 indirect) and 600 for internship (240 face to face/direct
and 460 indirect). See standards below.
 
We are brainstorming how we can support students with this reality and are looking at options for them to extend their internships with as few complications as possible. This takes coordination with your sites and the PAU university community and we ask your input in crafting plans that will help your site and our students serve your clients. For your counseling (LPCC) and marriage and family (LMFT) students, the BBS has made allowances for telehealth. https://bbs.ca.gov/pdf/coronavirus_statement.pdf We would like to work with sites that are interested in learning more about moving to telemental health with clients and have resources that can be offered to sites wanting to move in this direction. Please reach out to Dr. Donna Sheperis ( dsheperis@paloaltou.edu ). if you would like to know more. At the same time, we recognize that this is not an option for all clients due to access issues and that it may not be appropriate for school based placements or other sites.
 
Please send any questions and concerns to Dr. Cristen Wathen (cwathen@paloaltou.edu) for residential practicum students and to Dr. Jennie Ju (jju@paloaltou.edu) for online practicum students. We are also providing you with a copy of the letter emailed to all practicum students
regarding the COVID-19 response at PAU. We will work together to come up with creative solutions as we navigate this challenging time.
 
Thank you for your continued support of PAU’s students. Your work is valued and appreciated. We also send thoughts to you and your agencies as you navigate this scenario in your personal and professional life. Please take care.
 
Sincerely,
Dr. Donna Sheperis
Associate Chair for Clinical Training
Dr. Jennie Ju
Clinical Training Coordinator – Online
Dr. Cristen Wathen
Clinical Training Coordinator - Residential
 
 
 
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