Postdoctoral Internship Program
Overview of the Florida Department of Corrections
The Florida Department of Corrections is now the third largest state corrections system in the country and is considered a national leader in corrections due to its innovations and emphasis on quality. Health Services is an integral and constitutionally required element of the Florida Department of Corrections’ services, and is responsible for the physical and mental health care of all offenders in its care, custody, and control. To meet the mental health needs of all offenders we have several levels of care, including outpatient, and four levels of inpatient care: infirmary care, transitional care, crisis stabilization, and the Mental Health Treatment Facility (court ordered inpatient treatment).
Residents will have the opportunity to treat patients from across the full breadth of our inmate population. Our patients include minimum, medium and close custody as well as close management offenders. Residents may work with inmates with a variety of physical ailments and impairments, including chronic, progressive disorders, and visual, hearing, and ambulatory limitations. The residents will also care for incarcerated patients who suffer from a wide array of mental disorders, ranging from serious, chronic mental illness and progressive disorders, to transient crisis based disturbances. The full spectrum of mental disorders may be seen. However, the most commonly treated disorders will include the following: depressive, anxiety, psychotic, organic, cyclic mood, substance abuse and borderline, schizoid, schizotypal, antisocial and narcissistic personality. Neurodevelopmental disorders such as intellectual disability are also seen, and special efforts are undertaken to identify and care for these vulnerable offenders.
The patient population served is racially, culturally, and socially diverse. They self-identify as 50% Black, 46% white, 3% Hispanic, and 1% other. Our residents work primarily with adult males but will also work with some male youthful offenders. Some patients have been physicians and lawyers, while others have little education and have been homeless. Sixty three percent of our inmates have not achieved General Equivalency Diploma (GED) preparation literacy skills. Some are from other countries and speak other languages, with a significant proportion speaking Spanish. About 5% of inmates are non-U.S. citizens, with the largest number coming from Cuba, Mexico, and various Central and South American nations.
Multidisciplinary Team work is essential to successful work within the Florida Department of Corrections. A typical multidisciplinary team is employed for mental health service delivery that involves the integration of the patient with psychological, medical, and nursing staff. However, coordination and cooperation between mental health and security staff is another component to the interdisciplinary teamwork required to work within the Corrections System. As one might expect in a mental health service, our masters level staff, interns and psychology residents are clinically supervised by psychologists. However, the Warden is the ultimate authority at the institution and is responsible to see that required mental health services are provided and that the safety and security of the staff and inmates is maintained. Therefore, the Warden’s responsibility for our services is paramount. This interdependence of security and mental health is necessary and logical given that institutional security, public safety and proper care of our inmates are all key to the Florida Department of Corrections’ functioning.
The residency’s mission is to provide training that will produce licensed/licensed eligible psychologists who have the requisite knowledge and skills for successful entry into the practice of clinical psychology in correctional settings. Therefore, the residency endeavors to create solidly trained psychologists while affording opportunities for specialization in the role of psychology in corrections. The mission of the residency is consistent with and fits well within the Florida Department of Corrections’ mission as well as its vision, mission values and goals.
The Florida Department of Corrections’ vision, mission, values and goals are:
Inspiring success by transforming one life at a time.
Provide a continuum of services to meet the needs of those entrusted to our care, creating a safe and professional environment with the outcome of reduced victimization, safer communities and an emphasis on the premium of life.
We treat people as they should be treated, without demeaning, degrading, or devaluing any individual or group.
We demonstrate uncompromising ethical conduct in all our actions.
We face fear, danger and adversity, both physical and moral, to accomplish our mission, demonstrating commitment to do what is right, based on our shared values and moral reasoning, despite the potential of adverse consequences.
We put the welfare of the Nation, our state and others, both staff and inmates/offenders, before our own.
We practice empathy and recognize the challenges endured by inmates, offenders and their families and take actions to alleviate it, while supporting each other on and off duty as an FDC family.
Talent Development: We will invest in our members for their professional development, growth and success.
Inmate/Offender Programs: We will implement rehabilitative programs that support a continuum of services for inmates and offenders, resulting in a successful transition into the community.
Communications: We intend to promote a collaborative and transparent communications framework that engages all members and stakeholders.
Environment: We intend to provide healthy, sustainable and compassionate environments that are the foundation of our values.
These are consistent with the mission of the Florida Department of Corrections postdoctoral residency program which is to provide advanced training and educational experiences that prepare our residents to successfully work as licensed psychologists in correctional clinical settings. Together they ensure that residents are trained to provide quality mental health care to our patients in an ethical, proactive and secure environment. The Department of Corrections is invested in the residency program as a hallmark of excellence and as a “Train and Retain” program. The Department is involved in the training of a number of professionals including psychiatry residents and medical students. For this reason, rotations and other training opportunities are designed to enhance the students’ training and skills rather than for the convenience of other staff. The residency provides short-term and long-term benefits for the Florida Department of Corrections. An excellent training environment ensures high quality, in-depth patient assessment and care, and is considered professionally and intellectually stimulating for our staff. Additionally, a rewarding residency experience may lead residents to seek employment within the Florida Department of Corrections after graduation. Both factors provide impetus to create and maintain a high-caliber training program.
We have met our goal of obtaining membership in the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers. In October of 2018 our program achieved the goal of becoming the first APA accredited residency program in a correctional setting, receiving the maximum 10-year accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation. We anticipate our next site visit from APA to be scheduled for the Fall of 2027. For further information about accreditation please see the Commission on Accreditation website at http://www.apa.org/ed/accreditation/accreditation-roadmap.aspx or contact them at APA Office of Program Consultation and Accreditation 750 First Street, NE Washington, DC 20002-4242 Phone: 202-336-5979.
The residency consists of 2,000 hours over a one-year period. Nineteen hundred hours of the resident’s time is paid for and must be spent working in the Florida Department of Corrections Facilities or associated activities. An additional 100 hours, for which the resident is not paid, are required for completion of the residency. These hours allow the resident to participate in professional activities that are appropriate components of a residency, but that do not directly benefit the Department, the patients in its custody or any organization contracted by the State of Florida to provide patient care, and thus cannot be paid for by directive of the State. For example, the 100 hours may be used for attendance or participation in professional conferences, for research projects, EPPP study programs, licensure exams, interviews or for other professional activities. These professional activities must be approved ahead of time by the training director.
The Florida Department of Corrections will begin funding 4 residents each year. The training year runs from September 1st to the following August 31st. The training is comprised of two rotations each lasting six months in duration. One rotation is completed in an outpatient mental health setting at Zephyrhills Correctional Institution, Lake Correctional Institution, or the Lowell Correctional Institution Annex. The second rotation is on an inpatient mental health unit at Zephyrhills Correctional Institution’s 100 bed Mental Health Unit or at the Lake Correctional Institution Mental Health Unit. The residents may also provide consultation to other institutions with complex patients in need of psychological assessment and treatment recommendations as well as program evaluation and management suggestions. The residents will be supervised during the year by at least 2 different faculty supervisors who are licensed as psychologists in Florida.
The Residency program is sponsored, directed, and managed by the Florida Department of Corrections. The Department will be ultimately responsible for the content, design, control, direction, and organization of the program. The Florida Department of Corrections contracts with Centurion of Florida, LLC to provide comprehensive medical, mental health and dental services statewide. As a result, residents are employees of Centurion of Florida, LLC while they participate in the Department’s training program. This allows for the provision of employment benefits and the opportunity to network within an organization with a national presence in the provision of health care services in correctional settings. Centurion of Florida, LLC establishes and maintains human resource and employment processes to include distribution of salary, benefits, and human resources/personnel procedures.
Our residents are provided with the same resources as our licensed psychologists. This includes an office with a network computer and phone, and access to clerical support staff and office equipment (printer, copier, scanner and general supplies.)
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