First Person: PAU’s Gronowski Center Trains Doctoral Students as Clinic Directors

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Excellence in teaching and clinical practice, as well as improving lives through service to our community, are core to PAU’s mission. The university’s Gronowski Center is a wonderful example of where these attributes are lived daily. Under the supervision of licensed psychologists, the Gronowski Center is staffed by PAU doctoral-level psychology students, who offer a range of counseling and psychotherapy services on a sliding scale basis to clients in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties. The students provide treatment for psychological disorders and emotional distress, from depression and anxiety to bipolar disorder, trauma and more. The Gronowski Center is also home to several specialty clinics, including La Clinica Latina and the Sexual Genders Identities Clinic.

Doctoral student Erin Furay is one of four senior clinic managers at the Gronowski Center. In her own words, she describes the experience of a clinic manager.

By Erin Furay
The Gronowski Center is PAU’s student-run community mental health clinic. Close to 100 student therapists provide services under the supervision of licensed clinical psychologists, some of them PAU alums. We are proud to provide services to hundreds of clients each week. Student employees like me learn skills critical to our future careers, and have the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of directing a graduate school training clinic. The Gronowski Center would truly not be as productive or run as smoothly without the invaluable contributions of student employees!

Students work at the clinic in one of two capacities. I am one of four senior clinic managers (CM2), and there are up to 20 clinic managers (CM). The CMs are responsible for the day-to-day tasks that running a clinic of this size entails, including checking in clients and processing payments, answering phones and relaying messages, and providing support to student therapists as needed. As a CM2, I work as a team with three other employees who were previously CMs. We manage the CM team, liaise between the CMs and student therapists and the directors, help to implement new policies and procedures, and provide support regarding any and all problems that may arise.

I spoke with several CM’s about working at the Gronowski Center to find out what drew them to a CM role and what they’ve learned. Furthering professional development in a clinical setting was a common response. Others wanted more experience with administrative work and the ‘behind the scenes’ of running a clinic. The ability to multi-task in a non-academic setting and to learn about important HIPAA guidelines and regulations were also cited.

They also noted learning skills that are applicable to their future careers—from running their own private practice, including bookkeeping, scheduling, payments, and client customer service to refining communication and time management skills, as well as how to work effectively with other professionals. Regarding professional development, CMs noted that they learned how to provide feedback in a respectful, professional manner and the importance of disseminating complex information with simplicity. Their work is also an opportunity communicate and collaborate with other professionals.

That the CM staff is diverse in ethnicity and experience and that they work in a team-oriented environment is also appreciated. It’s a great learning experience to help professionals build knowledge, skills, competence, and effectiveness in working clinic setting.

The Rewards and Challenges of Senior Clinic Managers
Our close-knit team of CM2s manages the larger CM team, meets with directors, implements policy, and helps with the training of students. The CM2 position requires us to navigate holding multiple professional and personal identities as we are working with friends and colleagues as well as managing a team of them, while serving at a clinic where the student therapists can also be our friends and/or colleagues.

It is incredibly rewarding to be able to help other students learn and grow as well as support the Gronowski Center. We are all passionate and dedicated to helping provide great client service and effective training to new clinicians. While rewarding, the CM2 position can be challenging. Our team of four relies heavily on one another for support in daily tasks and the challenges that arise from our dual roles. We are in a unique position to support the professional development of the CMs and student therapists—a role we take on with a great sense of responsibility as well as excitement. It is thrilling and rewarding to be in a position to mentor newer students in the program as they navigate the many new duties of their graduate school educations.

Training Ground for Future Clinic Directors
The CM and CM2 positions are very valuable training experiences for student employees to learn how to manage their time and responsibilities, understand what it takes to manage or direct a clinic in the future, and provides opportunities to strengthen the professional development of students. The Gronowski Center is uniquely positioned to not only provide therapeutic services to thousands of clients monthly, but also to be able to aid in the training of the future generation of clinic directors.

Please visit the Gronowski Center’s website for detailed information about services.

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