Remediation/Grievance Policy and Procedures

APA (1979) standards state: "Faculty have special responsibility to assess continually the progress of each student.  Students who exhibit continued serious difficulties and do not function effectively in academic and/or interpersonal situations should be counseled early, made aware of career alternatives and, if necessary, dropped from the program.  There should be specific advisement policies and mechanisms (including grievance and due process procedures) to handle academic problems, conflict situations, and problems related to expectations, interpersonal relations, and other areas."  The following procedures have been established to meet the requirements of these APA guidelines at the postdoctoral level.

A. Problems detected by a Faculty Member
B. Problems detected by a Postdoctoral Fellow 

A. Remediation/Grievance Policy and Procedures for Problems with a Postdoctoral Fellow Detected by a Faculty Member.

It is recognized that problems in a postdoctoral fellow's professional or personal conduct can take many forms. For example, a supervisor may feel that a postdoctoral fellow has a marked deficiency in skills or motivation; a postdoctoral fellow may be unable to function professionally because of emotional or substance abuse problems; or a postdoctoral fellow may have a physical illness which precludes him or her from completing assignments or attending critical training sessions.  Clearly, each of these situations requires a different intervention.  Many of these stressors and demands may be beyond the fellow’s  control. Nonetheless, any of these issues may prevent the fellow from completing the training program, or make it impossible for him or her to function clinically for a period of time.  The mechanism for handling such problems must have sufficient flexibility to protect the program and the public, while providing the fellow with appropriate support and remedial training.

The procedures described below are followed by faculty who perceive that a postdoctoral fellow has any serious difficulty affecting his or her professional conduct, or that is likely to affect it in the future.  Basically, there are three general problem areas to which the following procedures apply (1) a postdoctoral fellow has a serious deficit in knowledge or skill(s); (2) physical or emotional difficulties that impair or compromise expected standards of performance; and (3) professionally inappropriate behavior.  (A procedure to be used by postdoctoral fellows who wish to challenge or appeal decisions of the faculty grievance is also included)

1) A Problem is Detected by a Faculty Supervisor:

The faculty supervisor and the postdoctoral fellow should discuss the problem and attempt to arrive at a mutually acceptable solution.  Such a situation is not unusual, and in the vast majority of instances would require no further action.

2) A Problem Remains Uncorrected, or the Faculty Supervisor and Postdoctoral Fellow are Unable to Reach an Acceptable Solution:

For postdoctoral fellows in the Clinical Psychology Program (CPP) and Research Fellowship Program (RFP), the Track Coordinator and Director of the Postdoctoral Fellowship Training Program (PFTP) are informed by the faculty supervisor and fully apprised of the problem. Prior to full review of the circumstances by the Track Coordinator and the Director of the PFTP, a third faculty member may be appointed to serve in an advisory capacity to the fellow.  This person will be selected by the Director of the PFTP, with input from the fellow.  The Track Coordinator, subject to the approval of the Director of the PFTP, gathers information from the concerned parties and from other faculty or postdoctoral fellows in positions to provide relevant information. Consistent with APA ethical guidelines, the Track Coordinator and Director of the PFTP should proceed in a manner so as to protect confidentiality to the fullest extent possible. If the Track Coordinator and/or Director of the PFTP can act as a mediator and suggest a method of resolving the problem, no further action is necessary.

For postdoctoral fellows in the Clinical Neuropsychology Specialty Program (CNSP), the faculty supervisor would inform the CNSP Director (or the CNSP Associate Director if the CNSP Director is the primary supervisor), and the fellow’s CNSP faculty advisor. 

The CNSP Director gathers information from the concerned parties and from other faculty in positions to provide relevant information.  Consistent with APA ethical guidelines, all faculty members proceed in a manner so as to protect confidentiality to the fullest extent possible.  

3) In the Case of Personal/Health Problems which Seriously Impair Professional Performance, the Supervisor should Request that the Postdoctoral Fellow's Clinical Activities by Suspended Immediately:

In taking this action, there must be a substantial likelihood that the clinical conduct or activities of the postdoctoral fellow would be detrimental to the patients under his or her care.  Discussion would involve the fellow, the Chief of Psychology at the hospital where the fellow is based, the Track Coordinator, and the Director of the PFTP, and for fellows in the CNSP, the CNSP Director (or the CNSP Associate Director if the CNSP Director is the primary supervisor).  The final decision regarding suspension of clinical activities would rest with the hospital's Chief of Staff, upon the recommendation of the Chief of Psychology and the Director of the respective training program.  Any decision to suspend clinical activities must be documented in the postdoctoral fellow's record.  Where appropriate, the Track Coordinator and/or the Director should assist the postdoctoral fellow in locating the proper resources to deal with the difficulty.  For example, the Track Coordinator and/or Director should aid the postdoctoral fellow in seeking referral for treatment as necessary.  The Training Committee should be notified about the situation and the corrective actions taken at its next regularly scheduled meeting.  All other actions regarding remediation, suspension or termination from the program, as well as appeals would be subject to the procedures outlined below.

4) Further Remedial Action is Deemed Necessary:

The Director of the PFTP or the CNSP will notify, in writing, the involved faculty member(s), chiefs of service, and track coordinator (if applicable) of the proposed remediation plan. The postdoctoral fellow also is informed in writing of the required actions that he or she must take, and the possible consequences for failing to do so. The written remediation plan should define specifically (in behavioral terms) the deficits or problematic behaviors in relation to expected standards of performance, required actions or changes, the faculty and time table involved, and method(s) of evaluation noting the criteria for successful completion. A copy of this correspondence will be placed in the fellow’s file. The Director of Training informs the Training Committee of the situation and the proposed plan at the next Training Committee meeting.

5) Postdoctoral Fellow Progress is reviewed at a Predetermined Interval to Ensure Compliance with the Remedial Program:

If the problem is judged by the Director of the PFTP or CNSP to be rectified, no further action is necessary, beyond a letter to that effect which is distributed in accordance to Step 4. The Training Committee is apprised of the outcome. If the problem has not been rectified: (a) further remediation is proposed and reviewed at an appropriate interval (return to Step 4 for documentation and distribution); or (b) recommendation for termination. Remediation plans may be granted a renewal or extension only once during the fellowship year. In no case, however, will an extension exceed the duration of the originally recommended time interval for remediation.

6) The Director of Training Recommends that the Postdoctoral Fellow be Terminated from the Program:

The Training Committee votes on whether a fellow shall be terminated from the program. The postdoctoral fellow is informed in writing of the outcome. This decision is forwarded to the Chairperson of the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior and to the Chief of Psychology at the hospital where the postdoctoral fellow is based.

7) Identifying another Faculty Member to Serve in an Advocacy Role for the Fellow:

In the CPP and RFP fellowships, if the Track Coordinator is also serving as the supervisor in charge of the remediation program, or if a conflict exists between the postdoctoral fellow and the track coordinator, then another faculty member will be identified by the Director of the PFTP to serve in an advocacy role for the postdoctoral fellow.

In the CNSP fellowship, if the Director or Associate Director is also serving as the supervisor in charge of the remediation program, or if a conflict exists between the postdoctoral fellow and the CNSP Director or Associate Director, then another faculty member will be identified by the Director of the PFTP to serve in an advocacy role for the postdoctoral fellow.

8) Appeals:

Disagreements should be immediately resolved among the parties whenever possible, as outlined.  Once formal remediation has been approved by the Training Committee, the involved postdoctoral fellow or faculty who disagree with the decision may appeal in writing to either the Director of the PFTP or CNSP.  The Director may attempt to mediate the dispute, or may choose to present the case to the Training Committee for further consideration.  The postdoctoral fellow has the right to appear before the Training Committee to appeal a decision.  The postdoctoral fellow may also solicit additional faculty to present on his or her behalf during this appeal if desired.  Consistent with Brown University policy, the hierarchy for filing appeals or grievances is as follows:  (1) Director of PFTP or CNSP, (2) Chairperson, Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior who will involve Departmental Appeals Procedures (see below), and (3) Hospital Grievance Committee of the institution in which the postdoctoral fellow is currently based. NOTE: Departmental Appeals Procedures require that the Chairperson appoint a three-person advisory committee to review the appeal.  In the case of the Fellowship, the advisory committee would consist specifically of three psychologists on the senior faculty who have no direct supervisory relationship with the postdoctoral fellow who has filed the appeal.  A written report delineating the committee's findings and recommendations must be submitted to the Director of Training within 30 days.

9) In the Event of Professionally Inappropriate Behavior, A Supervisor may Initiate Procedures Leading to the Suspension of a Postdoctoral Fellow as Follows:

For CPP and RFP fellowships, the supervisor should notify the Track Coordinator and Director of the PFTP immediately and apprise them of the problem. For CNSP fellowships, the supervisor should notify the CNSP Director (or the CNSP Associate Director if the CNSP Director is the primary supervisor) immediately and appraise them of the problem.  If a suspension is in order, the Director of the PFTP or CNSP will bring the issue to the Chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior and the Chief of Psychology at the hospital where the postdoctoral fellow is based.  The final decision regarding suspension of clinical activities would rest with the hospital's chief of staff, upon the joint recommendation of the Chief of Psychology and the respective Director of Training.  Any decision to suspend a postdoctoral fellow, as well as the terms of the suspension, must be documented in the postdoctoral fellow's record.  All other actions, including the postdoctoral fellow's right to appeal, are subject to the procedures outlined above.


B. Remediation/Grievance Policy and Procedures for a Problem with a Faculty Member Detected by a Postdoctoral Fellow.

Trainees are instructed to call grievance issues to the attention of their supervisors, track coordinator (if applicable), or directly to the Director of the PFTP or CNSP.  Depending on the severity of the situation, the procedures outlined below will be followed.  Basically, there are three general problem areas to which the following procedures apply (1) a faculty member has a serious deficit in knowledge or skill(s); (2) physical or emotional difficulties that impair or compromise expected standards of performance; and (3) professionally inappropriate behavior, including insufficient attention to the training needs of the trainee.

1) A Problem is Detected by the Trainee:

The faculty supervisor and the trainee should discuss the problem and attempt to arrive at a mutually acceptable solution.  Such a situation is not uncommon, and in the vast majority of instances would require no further action.  The Training Director for both the PFTP and CNSP maintains a record of verbal complaints that have not been officially lodged against a supervisor.  If the Director detects a pattern of complaints over time, then he/she can intervene.

2) A Problem Remains Uncorrected, the Faculty Supervisor and Trainee are Unable to Reach an Acceptable Solution, or the Problem is of such Severity that Additional Contact between Trainee and the Faculty Member is not Advised:

The Track Coordinator (if applicable) and/or the Director of the PFTP or CNSP (or the CNSP Associate Director if the CNSP Director is the primary supervisor) is contacted by the trainee and fully apprised of the problem.  The Track Coordinator (if applicable) and/or the Director of the PFTP or CNSP gathers information from the concerned parties and from other faculty or trainees in positions to provide relevant information.  Consistent with APA ethical guidelines, the Track Coordinator (if applicable) and the Director of the PFTP or CNSP will proceed in a manner so as to protect confidentiality to the fullest extent possible.  If the Director of the PFTP or CNSP can act as a mediator and suggest a method of resolving the problem, no further action is necessary.  For the CPP, in cases where the faculty member in question is the Track Coordinator (if applicable) then the Training Director of the PFTP picks a 3rd member of the Training Committee to form the subcommittee reviewing the matter. 

If mediation is not possible or successful, a subcommittee consisting of the Director of the PFTP or CNSP, the Track Coordinator (if applicable), at least one other supervisor, and one additional member of the Training Committee is convened.  The subcommittee then makes a determination whether any disciplinary action is necessary based on criteria outlined in the Faculty Handbook regarding incompetent performance of professional duties or neglect of academic duty.

Based on the subcommittee review, one of the following recommendations is proposed:

a.  No disciplinary action

 b.  Reprimand with a remediation plan, e.g., monthly meetings between track coordinator (or equivalent) and faculty member; addition of a new supervisor/mentor to the training plan. Note: If trainee does not feel comfortable continuing with the supervisor, an alternate supervisor will be assigned to the trainee.

c.  Suspension of privilege to recruit and supervise a trainee for a minimum of one year or until there is sufficient evidence that the situation has been resolved.     

3) If a Remedial Plan is Recommended: Progress is Reviewed at a Predetermined Interval to Ensure Compliance with the Remedial Program:

If the problem is judged by the Director of the PFTP or CNSP and Track Coordinator (if applicable) to be rectified, no further action is necessary, beyond a letter to that effect which is placed in the faculty member’s file in the Training Office.  The Training Committee is apprised of the outcome.  If the problem has not been rectified:  (a) further remediation is proposed and reviewed at an appropriate interval; or (b) recommendation for suspension of trainee supervision privileges.  

4) In the Case of Personal/Health Problems which Seriously Impair Professional Performance, the Director of Training may Request that the Faculty Member's Clinical Training Activities be Suspended Immediately:

Discussion would involve the trainee, the Track Coordinator (if applicable), the Director of  the PFTP or CNSP, and others where appropriate.  The final decision regarding suspension of clinical training activities would rest with the Track Coordinator (if applicable) and the Director of the PFTP or CNSP.  Any decision to suspend clinical training activities will be documented in the faculty member’s file in the Training Office.  Where appropriate, the Director of the PFTP or CNSP should assist the faculty member in locating the proper resources to deal with the difficulty.  The Training Committee should be notified about the situation and the corrective actions taken at its next regularly scheduled meeting.  All other actions regarding remediation, or suspension of clinical activities would be subject to the procedures at the faculty member’s institution.   

5) If a Faculty Member has had his/her Privileges Suspended Twice, the Director of Training Recommends that the Faculty Member be Terminated from the Training Program Faculty:

The Training Committee votes on whether the faculty member should be terminated from the training program faculty, majority rules.  The faculty member is informed in writing of the outcome.  This decision is forwarded to the Chairperson of the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Chief of Psychology at the hospital where the trainee is based, and the Chair of the Appointments and Reappointments Committee.  

6) Appeals:

Disagreements should be immediately resolved among the parties whenever possible.  Once formal remediation has been approved by the Training Committee, the faculty member who disagrees with the decision may appeal in writing to the Director of the PFTP or CNSP.  The Director may attempt to mediate the dispute, or may choose to present the case to the Training Committee for further consideration.  The faculty member has the right to appear before the subcommittee which made the recommendation and/or Training Committee to appeal a decision.  The faculty member may also solicit additional faculty or trainees to present on his or her behalf during this appeal if desired.  Consistent with Brown University policy, the hierarchy for filing appeals or grievances is as follows:  (1) Director of the PFTP or CNSP, and (2) Chair, Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior who will involve Departmental Appeals Procedures (see below).  NOTE: Departmental Appeals Procedures require that the Chair appoint a three-person advisory committee to review the appeal.  In the case of the PFTP, the advisory committee would consist specifically of three psychologists on the senior faculty who have no direct relationship with the faculty member who has filed the appeal.  A written report delineating the committee's findings and recommendations must be submitted to the chairperson within 30 days.

 7) In the Event of Professionally Inappropriate Behavior, the Chairperson may Initiate Procedures Leading to the Suspension of a Faculty Member as Follows:

The Director of the PFTP and CNSP is apprised of the problem.  If the Director feels that a suspension is in order, the Director of the PFTP or CNSP will bring the issue to the Chairperson of the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior and the Track Coordinator (if applicable).  The final decision regarding suspension of clinical activities would rest with the hospital's chief of staff, upon the joint recommendation of the Chief of Psychology, and the Chair of the Department.