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Comprehensive Clinical Examination

Introduction

photo of a sopp faculty memberThe purpose of the Comprehensive Clinical Examination (CCE) is to assess the student's competencies in general psychological practice, to identify areas of strength and weakness in performance that may inform and guide the student's internship program, and to provide feedback to the faculty on the performance level of students and success of the curriculum. The examination is focused on an assessment work sample and an intervention work sample, but the review panel may examine the student on a full range of general practice knowledge, skills, and attitudes that also include the competency areas of relationship, research, management, supervision, consultation, education, diversity, and advocacy.

It is important for candidates to address elements of their own personal characteristics and background, which influence all aspects of their clinical practice. Therefore, in addition to discussing the theory, research, and practices which guide their clinical work, students should also discuss how their own characteristics influence their work, with special attention paid to issues of diversity throughout the exam.

Policies & Procedures

Professional Statement

The student provides typed responses to the three (3) areas on the student’s Professional Statement Form. Responses should not exceed three and a half typed pages.

Assessment Work Sample

Please see the Assessment Portfolio Policy and Procedures for complete details on the selection and criteria for the assessment work sample and the CCE. 

  1. Students must have at least four (4) test batteries in their Assessment Portfolio in order to sit for the CCE. At least two of the reports prepared prior to the CCE must represent the sole work of the students and the Case Review Form must identify these two reports. These batteries must be on file with the Office of Academic Affairs (OAA) at least two weeks prior to sitting for the CCE (typically this is completed in the Spring of 3rd Year).
  2. The assessment work sample consists of an integrated report (as defined in the Assessment Portfolio) as well as copies of all test protocols and test data.
    • An integrated report includes identifying information, reason for referral, history/background, mental status, diagnosis, recommendations, and findings from at least two tests from one or more of the following categories:
      • Formal personality measure (objective and/or projective)
      • Intellectual or cognitive measure.
    • Information from these sources is synthesized into a comprehensive report (typical length of four-eight pages) that provides an overall picture of the client.
  3. Only those assessment instruments that include a formal scoring and interpretation scheme should be considered for inclusion in the test battery.
  4. Both the student’s sole work report and the supervised version of the same report are required for the CCE. The trainee is responsible for providing copies of the supervised sole work sample to the OAA.
  5. Students must identify which sole work from their Assessment Portfolio they wish to use for the CCE. The OAA will copy the unsupervised student work for distribution to panel members.
  6. An Assessment Overview Statement of about 500 – 750 words should be prepared to help the examiners contextualize the assessment work sample. For example, the student can briefly discuss the role of psychological testing at the site from which the assessment case is drawn, how the case came to be assigned to the student, or any other information that might help to frame the case and that is not included in the actual test report.
  7. The report should represent the student's best work and must include written integration of test findings. The submitted assessment reports must be signed by the supervising psychologist and the student.
  8. Four (clear/clean/legible) photocopies of test protocols and test data, must be submitted to the OAA along with four copies of the assessment report. All personal client identifying information must be deleted from the report and test protocols.
  9. The client must sign and date the Release of Information form indicating he or she understands the evaluation (with identifiers deleted) will be shared with faculty for educational training.

Intervention Practice Sample

  1. The student should select a practice sample from among one’s field practice clients, making sure to have obtained informed consent from the client. The work sample should be one unedited video recording or audio recording of an intervention "hour" between the trainee and the client. Four copies of this unedited video or audio recordings are required.
  2. Along with these four copies of the intervention "hour" work sample, the student must also submit four copies of an intervention write-up that includes:
    1. Client identifying information
      Presenting problem, history of the presenting problem
      Brief psychosocial history
      Clinical Formulation based on one or more theories of behavior/personality
      DSM-V axis diagnosis derived from the clinical data
      Treatment Plan for the course of intervention
    2. Strengths and weaknesses of the overall course of intervention including determinations of progress, process, and outcome.
    3. Strengths and weaknesses in the process, content, and outcome of the recorded session. Note the number of sessions and place in this sequence of the recorded session, e.g. #5 of 7or 5/7 sessions. Diversity issues involved should also be clearly elaborated. The discussion should relate to the treatment plan from a) above.
    4. Linkage with relevant theoretical and empirical literature regarding the treatment, the presenting problems, and the biopsychosocial context. Include a Reference List for all citations used.

This entire section should be no more than 2500 words in length.

Case Selection

The CCE assessment and intervention samples should come from the student’s practicum site, unless extenuating circumstances prohibit this. The work samples should have routine supervision on site, except the sole assessment work sample, and cannot be presented in Practice Tutorial. Use of a CCE case from any other facility requires a written rationale to the Associate Dean who will consider permission for use of an alternate site case after review of the rationale and consultation with the current practicum site supervisor and PT instructor.

The intervention work sample may be an individual couple, family or a group. If the case includes multiple persons, each person must sign an appropriate Release of Information. The assessment and intervention sample may not be on the same client.

Preparation of Documents

All written material should be double-spaced and typed in a size 12 point, easily readable font. The type should be dark, clear, and photocopy well. Leave uniform margins of 1 in. (2.84 cm) at the top, bottom, left, and right of every page of text. Each page should be consecutively numbered and include your name on a header or footer.

For all sections of the CCE, the writing style should be thorough, yet concise, and follow the highest standards for professional, written communication. Consult the APA Publication Manual, 5th Edition for helpful guidelines on grammar and style. Chapters Two and Three of the manual may be especially helpful. Any citations, references, quotations, etc. should follow APA format. For text length, 250 words is considered one page.

Submitted materials should be in the following order:

  • Cover sheet with student name, date and name of panel members
  • Professional statement
  • Assessment overview
  • Supervised sole work assessment report
  • Test protocols and test data
  • Intervention write-up
  • Reference list for any citations used.

Deliver each copy of materials to the OAA in a standard large envelope. Do not bind pages or place them in a folder. Number all pages, including test protocols and data, consecutively. Include releases of information with only one set of materials and designate this set on the outside of the envelope. Be sure your name appears in the upper left hand corner of each envelope and on each page of submitted materials.

The Review Panel

The Panel consists of three members. These members will include SOPP fully-affiliated faculty members, SOPP staff psychologists, psychology field supervisors and/or clinical faculty members. Students’ current supervisors are not eligible to sit on the Panel. A student’s PT instructor or dissertation chair may serve on the Panel. A SOPP fully-affiliated faculty member will serve as chair of the review panel. The OAA will make the final approval and assignments of all panel members considering the domain of practice of the proposed samples.

The trainee must arrange the time and place of the evaluation acceptable to all panel members. All practice sample materials will be sent to panel members by the OAA. To assure the delivery of evaluation materials to panel members, at least two weeks before the examination date, students must submit their materials to the OAA at least three (3) weeks, 15 business days prior to the examination date confirmed with panel members. Examination dates can be coordinated any time after panels are announced to allow for the evaluation to be held during the spring or summer semester. See Section K for time lines.

Evaluation Considerations

The evaluation format is not rigidly fixed. It is expected that the work samples will elicit a wide range of issues related to a number of professional competency areas. The panel can apportion time and develop questions in relation to the practice samples and the panel’s judged need to further evaluate particular competencies. Generally, after a brief introductory "warm-up," the panel starts with a review of the assessment sample followed by a review of the intervention sample. About an hour, sometimes longer, is devoted to the assessment sample, with about an hour devoted to the intervention sample. Another hour of time is distributed among the early introduction warm-up and a focus upon professional/legal issues, diversity issues, scientific issues, career development and follow-up issues. Most of this third hour is distributed at the end of the evaluation. Immediately following the evaluation, the student leaves the panel but remains in a nearby waiting area. Following a  discussion/rating by the panel, the student returns to the panel for a brief feedback session. The total time for the exam is rarely more, and is sometimes less, than three hours.

The CCE Outcome: Evaluation & Feedback

Panel members use a set of criteria and rating scales to evaluate the examinee’s performance (copies of the criteria and rating scales are attached). When panel members have completed the rating scales, the examinee is asked to return for feedback and recommendations, if any. A copy of the evaluation summary form is provided to the student from the OAA.

Successful completion of the CCE is required for advancement in the program and eligibility to apply for internship. One of the goals of the CCE is to inform the student, the faculty, and practicum and internship sites of the student’s professional strengths and weaknesses. Depending on when the CCE occurs, the OAA will share a summary of the results of the CCE, especially recommendations for further training, with the student’s current or next practicum site and/or the internship.

A maximum of two re-examinations is allowed; the third failure results in dismissal from the program.

The examination panel will independently review and rate the student’s materials. Following the oral examination and discussion, the panel will provide a consensus outcome ratings for the CCE. This outcome rating can be Failure, Conditional Pass, Pass, or Pass with Distinction and is recorded on the summary form and signed by each panel member.

Pass

A student passes the CCE when the committee finds that the student’s assessment sample, intervention sample, psychological knowledge and values demonstrated in the oral review, and professional role development are acceptable. Pass with Distinction is reserved for exceptional performance in submitted work for assessment and intervention and in the oral review. Pass with Distinction can only be awarded on an initial examination. Pass with Distinction cannot be given on examination after a Conditional Pass or a Failure. The panel chair is responsible for getting the completed Comprehensive Clinical Examination Summary form (Original Examination) to the OAA within seven (7) working days of the examination. The OAA will provide a copy to the student. Individual panel member worksheets will accompany the summary form. Students do not receive a copy of these worksheets.

Conditional Pass

In the case of a Conditional Pass, the student is required to revise or provide additions to materials submitted or to redo an oral exam. In these cases the panel feels that the student’s basic knowledge, skills, and attitudes are adequate but require a refined and more thorough presentation. The panel will make a recommendation to the Associate Dean, who will decide whether the entire panel or a subgroup will review in the case of a Conditional Pass. A Conditional Pass Form will specify the requirements for the revision or addition. A student is considered to have passed the CCE if the materials submitted for a Conditional Pass are found acceptable. Otherwise, the student fails, and the conditions regarding failure, outlined below, apply.

The panel chair is responsible for getting the completed Conditional Pass Form along with the completed Comprehensive Clinical Examination Summary form (Original Examination) to the OAA within seven (7) working days of the examination date. The OAA will provide copies to the student. Individual panel member worksheets will accompany the summary form. Students do not receive a copy of these worksheets.

Within the time frame established, the student is responsible for completing the requirements on the conditional pass form and submitting them to the OAA for distribution to indicated panel members for review. The panel chair is responsible for coordinating the review and getting a completed Comprehensive Clinical Examination Summary form (Conditional Pass) to the OAA within seven (7) working days of the review date indicated on the conditional pass form. The OAA will provide a copy of the form to the student.

Failure

Students who receive an outcome rating of Failure are required to submit a new assessment and/or a new intervention sample. A retake of either part of the CCE constitutes a reexamination which will include an oral. The oral examination for either part of the CCE, taken alone, will not exceed 1½ hours. Prior to re-examination, students are expected to remediate areas of weaknesses identified by the CCE panel. The Re-examination Form will specify the area(s) for the new work sample, recommended remediation, and any other requirements for the re-examination. The panel will also make a recommendation to the Associate Dean, who will decide on the use of the same committee or a new committee for the re-examination. The panel chair is responsible for getting the completed Re-examination Form along with the completed Comprehensive Clinical Examination Summary form (Original Examination) to the OAA within seven (7) days of the original examination date. The OAA will provide a copy to the student. Individual panel member worksheets will accompany the re-examination and summary forms. Students do not receive copies of these worksheets.

The student is responsible for arranging a date, time, and place for the re-examination. Procedures for the preparation and submission of materials to the OAA, discussed above, and in the CCE Time Lines table below, apply. The CCE must be passed by August 31 of the academic year in which the original CCE was taken in order for students to be eligible for internship review. A student is considered to have passed the CCE upon re-examination when the consensus rating of the panel members is passing. As with an original CCE examination, the panel chair is responsible for getting the completed Comprehensive Clinical Examination Summary form (Re-examination) to the OAA within seven (7) working days of the examination. The OAA will provide a copy to the student. Individual panel member worksheets will accompany the summary form. Students do not receive a copy of these worksheets.

In rare cases, the panel may decide on a failure prior to the oral examination, if the members’ independent and consensus ratings agree that submitted materials are too weak to move forward. In these cases, the chair and the Associate Dean will notify the student. The oral examination time will be used to give feedback and remediation recommendations for the re-examination. Within 14 days of the examination, the Associate Dean, student, and panel representative will meet to review and confirm reexamination plans. Students are automatically dismissed from the program at the time of the third failure.

Case Materials

At the end of an oral examination or after review of conditional pass materials, all work samples, and related documents must be returned to the OAA for appropriate disposal.

Timelines

Internship Eligibility

The Comprehensive Clinical Exam is a major evaluation of each student’s level of integration and application of clinical and academic knowledge to the practice domain prior to the student’s last year in the program and the start of clinical internship. The CCE also must be passed by August 31 of the academic year before the student intends to apply for internship. The CCE is a critical element which contributes to eligibility to apply for internship. Students who have not passed the CCE by August 31 of a given summer must wait until the following year to apply for internship. Students are, therefore, urged to work diligently on their CCE materials once they have been assigned a panel, and to schedule their oral exam as early in the year as they can, given the goal also of preparing strong materials and a strong oral defense. If there is a need to retake an exam, earlier scheduling will allow time for such re-examination to occur and to be passed before the August 31 deadline.

Submission of CCE Materials and Scheduling of the Oral Exam

As stated earlier, all students who are either entering the third year of a standard program, or who are entering the second year of an accelerated program will be assigned CCE panels by early spring semester of that academic year. CCE guidelines, policies, and procedures will be distributed to these students along with panel assignments.

Proposed CCE Time Lines
Activity Due Date
Information Meeting with Associate Dean Early Spring Semester
Candidate Information Form to Associate Dean, OAA After Information Meeting
CCE Panels Assigned Early Spring Semester
Student preparation of CCE Materials Throughout academic year
CCE Exam Dates (schedule 3 hours) Spring/Summer Semester
Student Materials to OAA At least 3 weeks, 15 business days, prior to exam
Student Materials to Panel Members 2 weeks, 10 business days prior to exam by OCT
Results of the exam returned to OAA along with all materials and rating forms

Within 7 days of exam

Meeting with Associate Dean, OAA and Panel representative to review remediation or re-examination plan. Within 14 days of exam
Deadline for all CCE’s to be passed Deadline for all CCE’s to be passed