Trainees' experiences with peers having competence problems: A national survey

  • Shen-Miller D
  • Grus C
  • Van Sickle K
 et al. 
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Trainees with problems of professional competence (TPPC) are a significant phenomenon in psychology education and training. Although most faculty and students are able to identify at least one TPPC over a 5-year period (Forrest, Elman, Gizara, & Vacha-Haase, 1999), investigations have typically focused on trainers; trainees' perspectives are relatively unexplored. We used survey research to assess perspectives on TPPC from 321 trainees in counseling, clinical, school, and combined psychology programs from masters' through predoctoral internship training levels. Questions targeted (a) training on TPPC and awareness of program policies, (b) general beliefs about faculty/supervisor/peer awareness and action related to TPPC, (c) specific experience with TPPC, (d) characteristics of the experience with a TPPC, (e) impact of program dynamics, (f) faculty/supervisor/peer actions with specific TPPC instances, (g) making a decision to take action, (h) personal and systemic impact of taking action, and (i) not taking action. Results revealed that 44% of students were aware of a TPPC. Participants were confident that trainers were aware of TPPC, yet less certain that trainers would address TPPC. Similarly, participants held more confidence that their peers were aware of TPPC than they were that peers would take action. Although more than half of participants reported taking action, a majority did not draw on their training when doing so. Common action strategies included consulting with faculty/supervisors and peers, venting with peers, or approaching the TPPC. Implications for training are discussed, including attention to training related to TPPC and understanding faculty and student roles. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2011 APA, all rights reserved)

Author-supplied keywords

  • Education
  • Insufficient competence
  • Professional competence problems
  • Psychology training
  • Trainee impairment

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  • David S. Shen-Miller

  • Catherine L. Grus

  • Kristi S. Van Sickle

  • Rebecca Schwartz-Mette

  • Evelyn A. Cage

  • Nancy S. Elman

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