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A note to PhD interns in CA about COVID-19

March 19, 2020

Hello everyone:

The last time I reached out to all the PhD interns in California, it was about the fires, way back in fall.  What an action-packed internship year you've had!  These experiences are not fun to go through, but they will teach you an amazing amount that you will bring forward with you in your professional career.

Philosophy aside, we want to reach out to interns in California with some guidance, in case you are in an area that has been or will be placed under a shelter-in-place order.  In that case, the guidance we gave to practicum students in the Bay Area earlier this week will also apply to you.  Here it is:

In compliance with any public health order instructing residents of a California county to shelter at their place of residence, we are directing all graduate students in Palo Alto University (PAU) clinical psychology or counseling degree programs who are in clinical training sites in those counties not to participate in clinical activities at the physical locations as long as the order remains in effect. As unlicensed students in training, PAU students are not exempt “mental health providers” permitted to leave their residences in order to work at “healthcare operations."  PAU students, however, may participate remotely in clinical training activities, using appropriate video conferencing and other telecommunication means, while remaining at their place of residence.

A general guideline is that interns should not prioritize hours accrual over their health -- we are at an acute stage of the COVID-19 outbreak, and as time goes on there will be opportunities to resume training as agencies adapt to the new circumstances.  During the acute phase, you may also be able to accrue some hours while you are not on site if you complete tasks such as didatic training, remote supervision, and report writing, as well as any other projects the internship allow you to complete remotely.  We have every belief that you will be able to complete your internship and your degree.

Here’s an example:  Interns who started in September 2019 likely have approximately 1,100 hours to date.  If those interns aim for a minimum of 1,500 hr, that means they would need to accrue about 400 hr more, which equates to about 10 weeks of training (or about 2.5 months).  All current interns should have more than 2.5 months left to accrue these hours (and anyone who started training earlier than September likely has more than 1,100 hr to date). 

We hope that you stay safe and healthy, and we have every belief that you will be able to complete your internship and your degree.  Let us know if you have questions or concerns.


--Genevieve Arnaut, PsyD, PhD
(pronouns: until English pronouns become gender neutral, any pronoun is acceptable)
Director, Office of Professional Advising & Development
Palo Alto University
Allen Calvin Campus, 1791 Arastradero Road
Palo Alto, CA 94304
p: 650-433-3845
f:  650-433-3888