In March, the Council of Chairs of Training Councils' Practicum Competencies Workgroup released a report that outlines a core set of skills students are expected to gain in their practicum experiences.

The report emphasizes practicum students' responsibility to develop basic competencies in clinical practice. It also urges supervisors to guide students through the acclimation and learning processes.

"Students should embrace the fact that they're there to learn," says Robert L. Hatcher, PhD, director of the University of Michigan psychological clinic and co-author of the report with Kim Dudley Lassiter, PhD, director of The Ohio University psychology and social work clinic. "And they should seek out as much feedback as they can: Being open to feedback is the key to developing skills and competence."

The report claims students leaving an effective practicum should:

  • Feel comfortable with their role and skills. They should be confident that they are prepared for clinical work.

  • Be prepared for real-world responsibilities. Students should arrive to work on time, promptly take care of paperwork and, most importantly, understand the rules of their particular clinical setting.

  • Realize their limitations. Students should understand that they're learners, not experts, and seek consultation when necessary.

--Z. STAMBOR

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