External Clinical Placements
A student’s first clinical assignment is always in our own outpatient clinic. Clinical assignments in our clinic continue for at least two semesters. Track 1 students begin seeing clients during their first fall semester. Track 2 students begin seeing clients during their first spring semester and continue to see clients in our clinic throughout their first summer and second fall before beginning off-site externship rotations.
In our clinic, you are no longer titled, identified, or treated as a student. In our clinic, you are an Associate Clinician. Our clinical learning experiences are all about your growth as a professional, a clinician, and as an independent decision maker. We approach clinical instruction as two adults (Associate Clinician and Clinical Instructor) sharing the responsibility of providing evidence-based services for our clients. Our expectations are high and achievable.
Following in-house training, associate Clinicians complete two clinical externships. The externships are roughly half -time appointments at an affiliating clinical site. Historically, almost all of our graduate students were placed in externships that were completed in the central Virginia region and they also came to campus for their courses at least two days each week. Beginning with Fall 2020, students will complete their coursework online while engaging in externship placements that are located beyond a commuting distance from Charlottesville. We work with students to establish contracts with agencies in areas where the student will be living during off-site placements. Each externship is a semester-long assignment.
One externship is completed in a school system; the other externship is completed with adults, usually in some type of medical setting. Every student completes one of each.
The final semester is a full-time 16-week clinical internship somewhere in the United States. Internships consist of school systems and medically based settings throughout the United States. Because only a few options exist for internships in the Charlottesville area, students are encouraged to think broadly about locations in which they would like to seek an internship. We work with students to establish contracts with agencies in the areas in which students would like to live during their internship.
Every returning intern completes a structured assessment of their internship site (e.g., How many patients did you see? What types of clinical populations did you work with? What was the cultural diversity of the clientele? How helpful was your supervisor? What were living conditions like? Do you recommend the site to other students?). In this way, current students help to provide important information and insights for future students.
We ask students to engage in discussions with our off-site placement coordinator(s) throughout their programs of study to help establish external placements that appeal to them. Sometimes a student is interested in a placement site based on the site assessment information provided by a previous student. Sometimes students select a completely new site where we haven't previously placed a student. Their choice might be driven by closeness to home, or perhaps the city or state they intend to live in, or perhaps a certain type of facility because that's the type of facility in which they would like to begin their career.
Affiliating Practicum Sites
We maintain contracts with schools and medical sites in the central Virginia region. We also maintain contracts with many other facilities across Virginia, as well as in other states, to meet the needs and preferences of our students. If we do not have an established contract in a geographic location in which a student would like a placement, we work with that student to help establish a placement possibility.