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Goals and objectives

The goal of the doctoral internship at The Hospital for Sick Children is to prepare developing professionals with the skills, abilities, and knowledge base to work within the scientist-practitioner model. Interns will gain experience with children of all ages who present with psychological problems related to congenital, perinatal or acquired medical conditions, or mental health issues.

Through their internship experience, students are expected to develop an increased awareness of, and acquire skills with respect to diagnosis, assessment, consultation, treatment, and professional and ethical issues. These general goals are met through weekly supervision within each rotation, and bimonthly meetings with the Internship Coordinator and selected staff. Specifically, during this internship, interns will be exposed to the following issues:

Ethical considerations and professional conduct. Discussions will refer to the Canadian Code of Ethics for Psychologists, the APA Ethical Principles of Psychologists, and the Standards of Professional Conduct as tools to explore real and hypothetical situations that challenge health care professionals.

Jurisprudence. Psychologists in Ontario are regulated by legislation that governs the practice of psychology. These laws and their regulations will be reviewed with special consideration given to how they affect professional practice. Situations in which the law and the code of ethics might conflict will also be discussed.

Role and unique contribution of psychologists in a paediatric medical setting. We will address ways in which psychologists can work effectively within the culture and behavioural expectations of a tertiary/quaternary care Paediatric medical setting will be addressed. This will provide a contrast to the ways in which psychologists work within mental health and adult settings.

Effective communication with medical staff, colleagues, patients, and families. Different types of communication are required when dealing with various parties: professional staff, patients, families and other 'consumers'. Methods for communicating information appropriate for different parties will be addressed.

Evidence-based care within a scientist-practitioner model. The best care is that which is proven to be most effective and cost efficient. Interns will be taught to determine the best methods for assessment and intervention, based upon valid research and outcome studies.

Continuing education as an ongoing component of professional practice. Interns will learn the responsibility of self-directed learning as a life-long process. They will be encouraged to seek additional educational opportunities throughout their careers.


In addition to the above general goals, interns are expected to meet the following specific objectives:

  1. Develop knowledge about the physical and psychological effects of specific medical conditions, treatments and procedures and their implications for family and individual adjustment and neurocognitive risk within a developmental context.
  2. Interview children and parents to obtain relevant information in a professional, competent, sensitive and comprehensive manner.
  3. Use a problem-solving, hypothesis testing approach to interviewing and assessment.
  4. Accurately administer, score and interpret a variety of standardized psychological tests accurately (including a minimum of IQ, achievement, and behavioural measures).
  5. Extract relevant information from a medical chart regarding patient history, current medication and treatment, natural history and risks for developmental dysfunction in relation to the specific assessment question.
  6. Communicate assessment results, diagnosis, and intervention plans and their implications for academic achievement, social-emotional adjustment, and behaviour. This must be done in a written or oral format that is sensitive, respectful, and accessible to the children, parents, medical staff and school personnel, as appropriate.
  7. Translate assessment results into practical, functional and effective recommendations for academic, psycho-social and behavioural intervention.
  8. Select and provide appropriate and effective psychological interventions (e.g., cognitive behavioural, play, family, and individual therapy).
  9. Conduct clinical research in a Paediatric medical setting that is scientifically and ethically sound, and sensitive to developmental issues.
  10. Use supervision in an open, constructive manner. Know when to seek additional supervision. This is meant to teach an approach to professional practice that will be ongoing throughout an individual's professional life.
  11. Be sensitive to the complexity of issues involved in teamwork. Learn to work effectively within a multi-disciplinary team setting, keeping the needs of the patient and family foremost.
  12. Be aware of, and respond appropriately to, multi-cultural and ethnic issues (e.g., choice of tests, use of translators, values, etc.).
  13. Demonstrate the ability to discuss in supervision those behaviours, personal characteristics, and concerns that might aid or interfere with one's effectiveness as a psychologist.
  14. Demonstrate the ability to establish appropriate professional and collegial relationships (e.g., seeking consultation appropriately, providing consultation effectively to peers and staff, respecting privacy and confidentiality, and functioning as part of a team).
  15. Manage personal stress, one's own adjustment and/or emotional responses in a way that does not result in inferior professional services to the client or interfere with job responsibilities.
  16. Demonstrate a desire to learn through self-reflection and continued academic involvement (e.g., reading, seminars).
  17. Demonstrate knowledge of one's own limits of competence, one's strengths and limitations as a psychologist.