Background

Trainee clinical psychologists work in a variety of different contexts and are subject to many, sometimes conflicting, demands in terms of their roles and responsibilities. It is acknowledged that the role of the ‘developing professional’ on placement in the NHS can jar with a more student-type identity within the university. It has therefore been agreed that it would be helpful to have a document outlining what is considered to be appropriate professional behaviour in the different contexts in which trainees find themselves. The purpose of the document is to clarify expectations, it is not meant to serve as a commentary on trainees’ current behaviour. However, if an individual repeatedly acts in an unprofessional manner this will be recorded and the appropriate measures taken (see monitoring section below). As a general standard it is important to acknowledge that the training programme functions best when all individuals, staff and trainees, adopt a cooperative and respectful approach.

It is also important for trainees to note that as employees of Lancashire and South Cumbria Foundation NHS Trust, they are subject to the levels of professional behaviour outlined in this Trust’s policy documents.

Behaviour at University

  • The aim of our carefully thought out teaching programmes is to help you gain your core competencies and develop into qualified practitioners. To help achieve this, your presence at teaching sessions is expected. Unauthorised absences are always followed up. If you need to take annual leave, please arrange this with the administration office team in advance. A record of this will be kept and a request may be refused if it is recognised that significant levels of teaching are being missed. Obviously, some teaching sessions will be missed due to illness or exceptional circumstances but frequent one-day illnesses on statistics teaching days will be noted (please see the absence from work policy).
  • If you are aware there will be a need to leave teaching early on a particular day you must make a request to discuss this with your clinical tutor or the Clinical Director. This leave will need to be authorised by the Clinical Director. There are legitimate reasons for needing to leave early such as medical appointments and attending interviews. If you suddenly become aware you will need to leave teaching unexpectedly you need to try and discuss this in person with your clinical tutor or the Clinical Director. If no one is available you must call the absence phone and report that you have had to leave work unexpectedly. Your call will be returned as soon as possible. It is not permitted to leave teaching early without seeking authorisation. Authorisation cannot be given by individuals facilitating the teaching session. Where teaching is being delivered remotely, i.e. via Microsoft Teams or equivalent and trainees are having to contend with conflicting demands, such as carer responsibilities, this should be discussed with your clinical tutor and appropriate adjustments can be made.
  • Teachers work hard to prepare and deliver the curriculum. Please respect this and engage in the session. Your feedback regarding teaching is sought in a number of ways and we are always attempting to improve the quality and coherence of the teaching programmes. If you are unhappy about components of a session, this can be acted upon at a later date; please do not express your dissatisfaction through disengagement. Question asking, participation in exercises, comments and debate, all make for a richer learning experience for those involved. Some examples of not being engaged are being late, being otherwise engaged and remaining silent/not contributing to the chat function during virtual sessions. This list is not exhaustive; please monitor your own behaviour to make sure it communicates your engagement to the teacher(s). As stated above, where teaching is being delivered remotely, i.e. via Microsoft Teams or equivalent and trainees are having to contend with conflicting demands, such as carer responsibilities, this should be discussed with your clinical tutor and appropriate adjustments can be made. However, there will still be an expectation of ongoing engagement with teaching sessions when in attendance.
  • It is the trainee’s responsibility to check the teaching timetable when it is published to identify any days which may be problematic with regards to caring responsibilities. If any teaching days are identified as likely to be problematic–trainees are asked to raise and discuss with their clinical tutors as soon as possible and in advance of the day(s) as to how to best manage them. Options available are as follows:
    • Taking annual leave – this can be booked in hours rather than full days
    • Making a request to leave teaching early for a proportionate and reasonable amount of time (for example leaving teaching in time to meet the usual nursery pick up if on a 7.5 hour placement day). This needs to be explicitly agreed in advance with the clinical tutor
    • Where teaching is being delivered remotely, i.e. via Microsoft Teams or equivalent and trainees are having to contend with conflicting demands, such as carer responsibilities, this should be discussed with your clinical tutor and appropriate adjustments can be made.
  • It is important that any request is made in advance and explicitly agreed before the teaching day. The trainee is responsible for organising any agreements. If a trainee is absent without an agreement being in place then the trainee could be considered to be in breach of their contract as technically they are working for less hours than they are being paid for.
  • If a trainee needs to leave teaching (or placement) early because of an urgent need (e.g. child becomes ill) then trainees can request carers leave at short notice. This needs to be made via the absence phone.
  • Laptops, mobile phones and other devices must only be used for the purposes of the learning experience, for example accessing PowerPoint slides and note taking. Any use of electronic devices not related to the learning experience could lead to a concern form being submitted.
  • Each individual begins the course with different levels of experience and confidence. Everybody has something unique to offer their colleagues and this should be valued and respected. Listening to each other’s thoughts, questions and comments is important and mostly beneficial.
  • There may be some days when you are expected to be somewhere other than Health Innovation One for teaching. The teaching timetables, available on Moodle, detail where you should be and when. You will have electronic access to the annual plan via Outlook. It is your responsibility to check the timetables and get all the relevant dates in your diary. If you are not where you are supposed to be, it will be noted and you will be asked to provide an explanation. You will have to take unauthorised absence as annual leave.
  • After consultation with trainees and staff the following guidance for the use of cameras during remote teaching have been agreed. Trainees should have their cameras on for small group discussion, larger group feedback and certain exercises when requested by the teacher. Cameras can be turned off (if preferred) for PowerPoint and other types of presentations. If trainees are having technological issues that is fine, just let the teacher(s) and your cohort know via the chat. We really encourage contributions in all our teaching sessions. We are happy if that comes in the form of a verbal contribution but also happy for people to use the chat function. We recognise how difficult it can be to communicate on Teams and want to facilitate ways that people can contribute in a way that they are comfortable with.

Behaviour on placement

Generally, trainees are expected to adhere to the HCPC’s guidance on conduct and ethics for trainees, the BPS Code of Ethics and Conduct  (2018), the BPS Code of Human Research Ethics (2021), and also to bear in mind that the needs of clients are paramount at all times. Trainees are encouraged to familiarise themselves with all these documents before going on placement; however, it is imperative that trainees read the HCPC’s guidance thoroughly.

  • Clinical tutors monitor trainees’ progress and the experiences provided by the placement through mid-placement visits. It is important to note that the trainee’s professional behaviour and attitude relating to the above issues are reviewed and discussed, as well as their clinical competencies.
  • The Placement Contract (drawn up between trainee and supervisor) maps onto the core competencies in the Supervisor’s Assessment of Trainee (SAT) form. Supervisors complete the SAT form prior to placement visits and this forms the basis of discussions in this meeting. The form is then updated and completed, and submitted long with a log of placement experience and the placement audit form (PAF) as a formal evaluation of the trainee’s performance near the end of the placement. Again, personal and professional skills are among the ‘core competencies’ being evaluated.
  • Trainees are accountable to their clinical supervisor whilst on placement. Consequently, trainees must keep their supervisor informed (and the course via the absence phone) if they are off sick. Please refer to the guidance on sick leave procedures and reporting absences.
  • It is the trainees’ responsibility to inform their supervisor of any teaching that falls on a placement day. Supervisors must be informed promptly, i.e. as soon as the trainee is informed of the teaching dates or any changes to teaching dates. If a problem arises through a change in teaching date, this needs to be brought to the attention of both placement supervisor and the trainee’s clinical tutor. Trainees should inform supervisors at the start of training of any teaching which is scheduled to fall on a day usually reserved for placement activity.
  • Adjustments to hours on placement: requests to work outside of the typical 9-5 working pattern can usually be made (e.g. working 8-4) but they still need to cover the hours the trainee is contracted to do. They also need to fit with times when the service is open and be in negotiation with the placement supervisor and clinical tutor. Where all, or the majority, of a trainee’s placement activity is being undertaken remotely (i.e. at home), then flexible working patterns must still be negotiated with the placement supervisor and the clinical tutor.
  • The course staff do recognise the competing demands of the programme and the importance of supporting trainees’ personal and professional development. There are many different ways in which trainees can gain support during the course. However, it is the trainees’ responsibility to access and take up this support and to let somebody know if they are experiencing difficulties.
  • Given that the needs of clients are paramount at all times, if the trainee experiences any difficulties on placement, s/he should, if possible, approach their supervisor in the first instance or their individual clinical tutor for advice and support.

Contact with all staff involved in the provision of training

  • The overarching aim of the programme is to help trainees develop during training so that they meet the HCPC’s standards of proficiency. The role of staff is to help make this happen. Much is invested in supporting trainees through the many demands of the programme. This works best when all interactions are professional, respectful and courteous.
  • If you decide to contact a member of staff by e-mail, s/he will normally respond as soon as they are able. Some staff members work full time on the programme and will often be able to respond promptly. Other staff members have other professional commitments and do not have daily access to their e-mails. Please practise patience and direct any truly urgent queries to an appropriate member of staff; telephone contact, rather than email contact, may be more appropriate.
  • If you receive an e-mail from any member of staff that requires a response, it is expected that you respond promptly. Much important information is communicated this way and those trainees who do not respond put extra stress on programme systems. Every trainee has a Lancaster university e-mail account that can be accessed easily both whilst on campus and via the internet. The programme also maintains a Moodle e-learning web resource which trainees are expected to access regularly. Any trainees who consistently fail to respond to e-mails will be considered to be acting unprofessionally.
  • Staff do try to be as available and friendly as possible. Often, impromptu meetings are possible and staff will try to help trainees with any queries/difficulties. However, staff are not always available for many reasons and, where possible, trainees should try and arrange an appointment with the appropriate member of staff in advance.
  • The administration team are extremely busy and this needs to be respected. They are consistently helpful and friendly but this should not be abused – for example they are not able to provide you with administrative support for tasks you can complete yourself. If you have a query, make sure it is something that you really cannot find out yourself before asking them.
  • Please make sure you cannot find the answer to a query yourself before asking a member of staff. No member of the research team has memorised the APA guidelines. They have to look things up as well!

Monitoring

These guidelines exist to aid the smooth running of the programme and help all trainees to progress steadily. We hope everyone involved with the course is committed to promoting a culture of good communication, respect and courtesy, on which many of these guidelines are based. After reading this document trainees should be clear what they can expect from staff and what is expected of them in terms of their professional behaviour across different contexts. It is not expected that these guidelines will be regularly transgressed. However, the following procedures are in place should they be required:

  • Concern about trainee behaviour process
  • Persistent and/or major examples of unprofessional behaviour would be dealt with through the programme’s Fitness to Practise process

Absence from work policy and annual leave procedure
Concern about trainee behaviour
Fitness to practise
HCPC guidance on conduct and ethics for students
BPS code of ethics and conduct
BPS code of human research ethics
LSCFT code of conduct for employees
LSCFT disciplinary policy
LSCFT disciplinary guidance
LSCFT Managing unsatisfactory work performance policy