Calling people "non-qualified(s)"

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Calling people "non-qualified(s)"

Post by PinkFreud19 » Thu Aug 08, 2019 10:39 am

I have always found the term "non-qualified" to be quite jarring as a way of referring to people in roles that are pre-doctoral level, namely assistant psychologists and trainees.

"We need at least two 'qualifieds' to run the group; 'non-qualifieds' don't count!"

"Yes but he's a 'non-qualified', any questions should be directed to me instead"

"'Non-qualifieds' should not stray further than ten metres from a qualified member of staff at any time"

"No non-qualified nuns knew none of the non-non-qualified nans"

The above quotes may be made up and subject to the use of hyperbole

When I have been referred to as a "non-qualified", I feel that it implies that my five years of hair-pulling academic labour have spat out a few certificates that do not really mean anything. Furthermore, it can feel embarrassing to be labelled a "non-qualified" in front of other allied professionals, who may not understand the psychology training route and may just assume that you are a random that the department have pulled off the street.

For balance, it's understandable why this choice of phrase is used. As humans, we are linguistically lazy when naming things, it seems. We like to shorten terms and cut down those superfluous syllables whenever possible, hence nicknames and other shortenings. Having to say even my own name in its full three-syllable entirety feels like I'm completing an ironman competition. Perhaps it's the same in this case.

I was once told I was being offensive to Canadians and South and Central American nations for referring to US citizens as "Americans" because it implies that the continent of America belongs solely to the US. You have to draw the line somewhere and adopting the alternative of "United States citizens" every time is bordering on silly.

So what do you guys think? Is it fine to say? Have you heard anyone use this phrase before?

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Re: Calling people "non-qualified(s)"

Post by Spatch » Thu Aug 08, 2019 8:23 pm

In he teams I have worked in it’s been fairly standard, but applied to a range of professionals. So non-qualified would refer to student nurses, HCAs, APs, medical students, technical instructors, or basically anyone who didn’t have the level of autonomy or accountability that comes with being a full member of a profession. I don’t think it was to single out psychology.

And strictly speaking other professions don’t recognise our pre-qualifieds in the same way as we may not recognise theirs. Much like we probably see medical students or similar -Often as supernumary, and needing close supervision and direction. If anything goes wrong it’s the qualifieds that are liable, so for me it’s natural for that demarcation to be made clear. I don’t think that’s laziness, it’s a rank distinction. I can't see it’s necessarily embarrassing, in the same way that it’s not embarrassing for a corporal to be told he is not an officer yet still be valued.

Also I am not sure if it is up to other professions to recognise your academic work or validate your CV, the same way my clinical team or manager doesn’t give a hoot about my phd or publications. They hire me to do a job and fulfil their legal obligation - not chivvy my ego. If I started sounding off that I have more degrees than my divisional director, it’s going to end very badly for me...

I would ask what do you think as an appropriate way to be collectively addressed? What is a commensurate level of respect an AP/med student/volunteer to be given? Why is this embarrassing?

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Re: Calling people "non-qualified(s)"

Post by PinkFreud19 » Thu Aug 08, 2019 11:17 pm

I appreciate the view, Spatch.

Your perspective has softened my opinion of the term, thank you. To answer your question, I suppose I would probably just say "non clinically qualified", which is a subtle difference but clarifies that it's referring specific to the professional practice as a psychologist, rather than not having qualifications in general.

Regarding embarassment, I suppose it's a concern that my opinions, contributions, and decision-making would be taken less seriously if I am named 'non-qualified' quite publically in front of the other professionals.The fact that this is a term shared by other professions is helpful to know, and alters this view a bit.

Perhaps I was just being a little sensitive here. As always, I welcome contrary views so that I know bad ideas don't remain unchallenged!

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Re: Calling people "non-qualified(s)"

Post by hawke » Fri Aug 09, 2019 8:20 am

I have found it quite liberating to be called this! I moved from a job with "senior" in the title, where I was expected to be the expert and felt a bit isolated and trapped between management and front line staff. It's quite nice to have a "trainee/non-qualified" title to permit me to be in the learning perspective once again, and to pass the responsibility buck at times. I've also found it frees me from the baggage that comes with the qualified Psychologist team, and people treat me more like an equal which is great for forming relationships with staff. Staff are more honest with me about their practice and I can go in with open-minded curiousity rather than authority. I also find it quite satisfying to earn people's respect that they perhaps weren't expecting to give a trainee. Over the years I've learned that academic success means nothing in the clinical world, and real respect has to be earned at a personal level in each new job irrespective of your job title or seniority.

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Re: Calling people "non-qualified(s)"

Post by Speaker » Fri Aug 09, 2019 9:27 am

I've never really had a problem with being called non-qualified as an AP as in the teams I've worked in such phrases have been used to clarify the appropriate boundaries between roles. I've never known it to be used in a derogatory fashion as the majority of professionals appreciate the fiercely competitive nature of clinical psychology. If it was ever used in a derogatory/condescending fashion I'd raise it in the appropriate venue, e.g. supervision.

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Re: Calling people "non-qualified(s)"

Post by PinkFreud19 » Fri Aug 09, 2019 9:32 am

Just to clarify, because I think I accidentally removed this sentence from my post, I am fine with being told I'm not clinically qualified as a psychologist. That's just an undeniable fact and there was no way that I should have been given the same level of responsibility as a CP. I'm also fine with non clinically qualified.

It's more the shortening to "non-qualified", because it's a bit ambiguous. Not qualified to be an AP (which you need qualifications for!)? Without qualifications at all? As I said though, maybe I was being a little sensitive here.

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Re: Calling people "non-qualified(s)"

Post by Ekorn » Fri Aug 09, 2019 10:18 am

I used to work in a medium secure forensic mental health service, and nursing assistants/support workers were referred to as unqualified nurses. Being called unqualified did not bother me, and it didn’t suggest that we were incompetent in our roles. Most qualified staff valued our contributions, opinions, and decision-making as we spent the most time with patients and had good rapports.

Actually, the boundaries between qualified and unqualified became blurry during my employment. This was a strategy for the service to cope with high staff turnovers and lack of qualified staff. It created confusion and instability, as you were constantly getting mixed messages about what you were allowed to do. It was especially detrimental to the wellbeing of new staff. Everyone was put under too much pressure as staffing levels continued to deteriorate. For instance, there was no nurse allocated to a shift on my ward. The ward had 3 permanent experienced support workers. We were told our ward could not run without a qualified nurse, which makes sense as we should have 2 qualified and 2 unqualified on shift (which we never had anyway). I had to swap with a qualified nurse from another ward I was not familiar with (leaving that ward without a qualified, and I was left alone on several occasions). A few days later, my ward had no qualified nurse and was left on only a fairly new support worker and a bank staff.

It became clear that some senior staff (e.g. some operational managers and team leaders) viewed unqualified nurses as unworthy of common decency and bare minimum levels of respect. Being talked down to, shouted at for petty things, and ignored were not uncommon in my experience. Some people even said that unqualified lacked education, and that you could get 10 support workers for a penny. Following serious assaults on staff some brushed it off as “it was only a band 2/band 3”. I really liked my job and worked there for >3 years, but the lack of leadership, senior management, and chronic dangerously low staffing levels made me leave.

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Re: Calling people "non-qualified(s)"

Post by Spatch » Sun Aug 11, 2019 9:47 pm

Over the years I've learned that academic success means nothing in the clinical world, and real respect has to be earned at a personal level in each new job irrespective of your job title or seniority.
Amen. I recall one CMHT I was working in, where it was a really charismatic, caring and intelligent medical student (a non-qualified in the OPs terms) who was probably the most dynamic force in the whole team. Everyone really listened to her, respected her and valued her skills and she more than held her own in the team meetings. As a non-permenant member of staff on rotation, she was ranked under the HCAs, but it really wasn't like that at all. It really isn't about the rank, it's about the person.
I'm also fine with non clinically qualified. It's more the shortening to "non-qualified", because it's a bit ambiguous. Not qualified to be an AP (which you need qualifications for!)? Without qualifications at all? As I said though, maybe I was being a little sensitive here.
I think you have to be careful with "non-clinically "qualified, because there are contexts as this actually sounds like you are saying the person is a qualified psychologist, but just not in a clinical capacity. This can often indicate a research psychologist who is attached to a clinical service, but could concievably indicate say an educational psychologist collaborating with CAMHS or similar. When I was doing my post-doc before my DClinPsy, the psychologists in the university based research team were divided as clinical and non-clinically qualified (which I was at the time).

I would acknowledge that you do need an undergrad psych degree to be an AP, but even then this is not viewed as a "clinical" qualification like undergraduate nursing, medicine or OT. There are very different requirements between purely academic degrees like psychology and clinical qualifications (that may not even be at Degree level like old school nursing). These are subject to things like fitness to practice, SOPS, SETS, comptency based assessment and necessitate theory-practice based learning, which psychology degrees simply don't have.

NB: I don't want you to give you the impression I am giving you a hard time for feeling the way you do. The psychology route is tough, and it sucks that undergrad psychology degrees are not held to the same degrees of esteem as something like undergrad medicine. I also know that some teams can be very unsupportive hierarchical and dismissive and may not embody the values that everyone matters. The distinctions between types of qualification are not clearly made, and even I didn't know the ins and outs of Higher Education England/NHS/HCPC until long after I qualified and started working as a supervisor/ trainer/manager.
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Re: Calling people "non-qualified(s)"

Post by miriam » Sun Aug 11, 2019 11:47 pm

As far as I can remember, I have neither used nor heard this term. However, it is really important to distinguish the level of autonomy, training and insurance coverage that an individual has, particularly in a service where there are a variety of professionals with different levels of training and autonomy. Saying you are below the bar of having an autonomous professional qualification is very protective in terms of accountability and should stop you being given tasks outside your remit or competence. It isn't designed to pander to or crush egos, it sounds like a term designed to be used when considering minimum shift coverage or levels of responsibility within a service.

Plus, nobody outside psychology understands the sequence of titles we use and the professional implications of them. Assistant psychologist sounds like one rank below the psychologist, whilst trainee sounds like a student according to most lay people (and quite a lot of professionals). The clinical vs non-clinical distinction isn't meaningful to them, which is why the whole practitioner psychologist thing is such a sham, and the HCPC fails so spectacularly to protect the public in so many critical ways (eg in who can be an expert witness, or who can provide private therapeutic or pseudo-medical services to vulnerable people).

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Re: Calling people "non-qualified(s)"

Post by Peach » Mon Aug 12, 2019 6:12 pm

It's not a term I think I would use at least not now anyway and I can understand why you found it jarring. Not everybody has an academic route to training, I've known numerous trainees who are qualified in their own right such as a CBT therapists, counsellors etc and so I would not disrespect them by referring to them as 'non qualified'. The term Trainee/student or Assistant could just as easily be used in place of non qualified to appropriately indicate level of training and experience and more importantly reflects accurately what their role is. Language matters.
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Re: Calling people "non-qualified(s)"

Post by Such_a_lovely_girl » Sun Aug 25, 2019 12:46 am

I'm just completing the pg dip children's IAPT qualification whereas I am known as trainee. The only time I have been referred to as non qualified is working as a HCA, by nurses, and yes it is a nasty term. So that is why I won't be doing that in a hurry (also no need as there are band 5/6 IAPT posts now viable)

It is an insulting term

Being known as trainee, or placement student, suits me just fine. I also think, I have had to record God only known 50 hours of my practice live (120 hours overall) so to say, my name is ............and I am the unqualified seeing you today, doesn't install confidence

Just saying, pecking order and all, HCA's are two a penny as the OP alludes to. I dont agree with that one bit. But if anyone is going to refer to you as unqualified, it will be a nurse shift leader designating duties who doesn't know you well. Show your worth and you get magically upgraded to a strong dependable HCA. With time. But that in itself I find a little patronising but not to the extent of being referred to as unqualified, or as equally flattering, "the bank staff"

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Re: Calling people "non-qualified(s)"

Post by lingua_franca » Sun Aug 25, 2019 2:26 am

I was referred to as a non-qualified all the time when I was a HCA. The term was used by both nurses and by other HCAs. It didn't bother me then and it wouldn't now. I just took 'qualified' to mean someone with HCPC registration who had general responsibility/oversight for my work, not as disparagement of me or my work.
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Re: Calling people "non-qualified(s)"

Post by ChrisCross » Sun Aug 25, 2019 8:41 am

I tend to agree with others who have suggested using language such as student/trainee/HCA in place of 'non-qualified.' I think there's something to be said about the 'othering' nature of this term, which I personally feel is unhelpful. It reminds me of terms like 'non-heterosexual' or 'non-white,' which leave me with similar uncomfortable feelings. I do think it's important to distinguish between staff in terms of their roles & responsibilities but would be cautious about using language which has the potential to be received as pejorative.

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Re: Calling people "non-qualified(s)"

Post by Prosopon » Sun Aug 25, 2019 4:13 pm

Personally I don't like the term "non-qualified" as I think it undermines the wealth of experience these people are likely to have. I'm lucky that when I was a HCA on a mental health ward, I worked in a team where HCAs were extremely valued. We were referred to by our job title, and not "non-qualified". I loved working within that team as nobody was "precious" about their role, and we all valued each other's experience and contributions. Unfortunately teams like that seem to be rare.
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