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Professional Standards

The National Organization for Human Services has established standards for ethical behavior in the field of human services. Students are expected to know and follow these standards. In addition, individuals who work in the field of mental health must know and follow the Colorado Mental Health Statutes

The Department of Human Services has established a Professional Review Policy to provide guidance and a process to support student success in the classroom and in the field.

Human Services Professional Review Policy

In order to achieve a degree in Human Services, students are required to meet academic, personal, professional, behavioral, and ethical standards that go above and beyond the ability to pass academic classes. The goal of the Department of Human Services is to support student academic success as well as success in the field and in graduate school. The following expectations and procedures are designed to provide guidance to support student success in the field of Human Services.                                               

Academic Expectations: The student must maintain ethical behavior in their academic performance. Work must be original to the student. Appropriate use of citation is required for all papers. Students must maintain a C or higher in all Human Services classes within the major. Written and oral skills must be clear, organized, grammatically correct, and set a professional tone. Academic dishonesty will be reported to the Office of Judicial Affairs. 

Behavioral Expectations: The student must display professional conduct in the classroom, the Human Services Office, in field placement sites and during interactions with other students, staff, and faculty. Students are expected to attend and participate in class, and be punctual. Students are expected to be able to accept and work with constructive feedback, making any changes necessary if behavioral concerns are addressed by staff, a faculty member, or by the Student Review Committee.

Personal and Professional Expectations: Students must take responsibility for their actions, be able to work independently, show diplomacy, set appropriate boundaries, operate effectively under professional ethics and codes of conduct, and demonstrate personal characteristics conducive to working in the counseling and human service profession.

Given the rigorous nature of the standards in the field of Human Services, the Department developed the following procedure to support student success.

Department faculty are encouraged to give feedback to students on an ongoing basis throughout their educational career at MSU Denver. If a faculty member has a concern about a student's behavior, academic performance, or professional demeanor, the faculty member will meet with the student to discuss his/her observations as well as strategies for positive change. Students are expected to meet with Human Service faculty members upon request and to respond to the feedback in a professional manner. If the student is in violation of the Student Code of Conduct, the behavior will be reported to the Office of Judicial Affairs. 

If the issue is not resolved, the student refuses to meet with the faculty member, or faculty continue to note concerning behavior or issues, the Chair of the Student Review Committee (SRC) and the Department Chair will be notified. The Chair of the SRC will contact the student to set up a meeting between the student, the faculty member(s) who expressed a concern, and at least one other faculty member who will facilitate the meeting. The focus of this meeting is to discuss the concern in a supportive environment and to assist the student to strategize ways to improve performance in the area of concern. The review meeting is intended to be informative rather than punitive. Students are expected to participate in review meetings. However, if a student refuses to participate with department faculty in this process, the meeting will be held and the SRC will develop recommendations relating to the concern expressed by faculty. In both cases, the student will receive a letter and/or email following the meeting that will summarize what was discussed at the meeting and will include departmental recommendations to support positive change.

If the recommendations are not followed and/or the behaviors seem to be ongoing, a follow-up review meeting will be convened. This meeting will include the student, a faculty member to chair the meeting, any faculty who have expressed concerns about the student's behavior, and three professionals who are not members of the Department. The three additional professionals will include a representative from the Dean's office and may include faculty from departments like Social Work, Psychology, Women's Studies or other similar disciplines, a professional from the student's concentration area, or a Field Supervisor. The three external participants will serve as a recommending body to the Department. They will send a written recommendation to the Department Chair and SRC Chair following the meeting about what next steps should occur in the process. These next steps may include, but are not limited to:

•Developing a Behavioral Contract with expected outcomes and consequences clearly outlined

•Requiring counseling or some other form of appropriate intervention

•Removing a student from a specific class

•Requiring the student to meet certain expectations prior to engaging in field work classes

•Dismissing the student from the major. In this case, the student will be referred to Academic Advising to review major options or the Center for Individualized Learning to develop an individualized degree.

The Department Chair will review and implement the recommendations. The student will be informed via letter and/or email regarding the recommendations. Students are welcome to meet with the Chair for clarification on next steps in the process. Students who have concerns about the recommendations can write a letter of appeal to the Dean of the School of Professional Studies. The Dean's decision will be final.

In addition, students will go through a formal Professional Readiness Review as part of the course requirements for HSP 2070, Pre-field Seminar. The Professional Readiness Review defines professional expectations that students must meet in order to be effective in the classroom and in the field. This process is intended to create a space for open and honest feedback and dialogue about student performance and appropriateness for the field between students and faculty in the Department of Human Services.

Professional Expectations

Reliability:  The student can be counted on. S/he is consistent in terms of attendance and punctuality and follows through on tasks and assignments.

Demonstrates a positive attitude: The student is enthusiastic about the field of Human Services and, in particular, field work and class activities, and is able and willing to cooperate with faculty, field supervisors, co-workers, other interns, other students, and the public.

Demonstrates self-awareness: The student is willing to examine his/her own feelings, values, and behaviors and is aware of his/her own strengths and challenges as well as the potential impact of his/her personal style on others.

Accepts and uses feedback for improvement: The student is responsive to feedback and responds in a professional manner (without defensiveness). S/he incorporates the feedback into future performance.

Demonstrates ethical awareness and behavior:  The student demonstrates an understanding of ethical issues and a knowledge of the Ethical Standards for Human Service Professionals established by NOHS. The student does not engage in activities that are contrary to the ethical standards and is able to use critical thinking skills and ethical decision making when situations are not clear-cut.

Demonstrates cultural sensitivity:  The student is aware of the impact of cultural diversity (in the broadest sense of the term) and is able to act in a meaningful manner that demonstrates an understanding of the importance of cultural competence. 

Demonstrates professionalism: The student presents him/herself in a professional manner verbally, in writing, and on a nonverbal level. S/he is groomed and wears clothes that are appropriate to the context.

Demonstrates an ability to effectively handle conflict and problem solve: The student utilizes communication to effectively manage conflict, is able to access appropriate resources for assistance with conflict or life issues, and uses critical thinking skills to solve problems.

Demonstrates emotional/mental stability: The student demonstrates emotional and mental stability. If the student has a mental health issue, is in recovery, or has an unstable life situation, s/he is aware of his/her issues and is taking appropriate steps to manage the impact of the issues on his/her behavior and performance.