Guidelines for professional behaviour

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 Care 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).
  • 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, texting, remaining silent and leaving the room to answer mobile phones (see next point). This list is not exhaustive; please monitor your own behaviour to make sure it communicates your engagement to the teacher(s).
  • Mobile phones must be switched off during teaching. If there is a situation in which you might have to be contacted urgently, you can do this via the office. Please consider the presence of active phones in teaching as inappropriate as it would be in a session with a client.
  • 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 are days that you are expected to be on campus that might not be your usual teaching days (research presentation days etc). There are even some days when you are expected to be elsewhere for teaching. The mechanism by which we communicate where you should be, and when, is called the annual plan. You will have electronic access to the annual plan via SharePoint on campus and via the VPN off campus (see ISS homepage for further information on the VPN). It is your responsibility to read it 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.

Behaviour on placement

Generally, trainees are expected to adhere to the HPC's guidance on conduct and ethics for trainees, the BPS Code of Conduct: Ethical Principles and Guidelines (2009), the BPS Code of Human Research Ethics (2014), 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 thoroughly the HCPC's guidance.

  • 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 the mid-placement visit and this forms the basis of discussions in this meeting. The form is then updates 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 office) 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.
  • 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. If there is a note on the door that says an office is closed, it means the office is closed to everybody, including you.
  • 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 process
Fitness to practise process
HCPC guidance on conduct and ethics for students
LCFT code of conduct for employees
LCFT disciplinary policy
LCFT disciplinary guidance
LCFT Managing unsatisfactory work performance policy