Tracking your hours!

Last month we talked about the importance of keeping track of your hours and your ratios to better determine your needs for supervision. I have to admit, for me, tracking my hours was one of the best and worst parts of the intern experience. Somehow, while I was in school, 3000 hours did not seem like that many. I know, I was in denial. I had it all calculated, 1300 hours gained pre-degree, get another 1700 hours divided by 40 hours a week and I would be done in less than a year! Hilarious huh?


As I graduated and started to become more aware, the reality sunk in. It started to feel like it would take forever! That is often the worst part of the process. Not really knowing just how long the process is going to take. The stress of that somehow seems to remove the ability to do math, causing interns aplenty to recalculate again and again only to come up with different numbers. Often, causing them to just avoid the calculations all together. Any avoiders here?


If you can get past the avoidance, it is awesome to see those hours completed tick up, get validation that your ratios are on track, and to see your time clock tick further down. In the effort of helping us all find the stress-less path to licensure, I will review the options for tracking your hours. If you have already submitted your hours the hard way, read further about the latest and greatest options so you can pass along the information to those that come after you.


First, there are spreadsheets. Many aspiring, geeky therapists have developed spreadsheets in Excel over the years. With some knowledge and expertise, you can tweak your spreadsheet to calculate your ratios, automatically add your weekly hours of experience, and even provide you with a running countdown of how many hours you have left in each category.


The BBS even has an Excel spreadsheet available for free on their website. However, it only takes totals from each supervision site, but does not provide a place to add up weekly and monthly hours. The best part of this option is, it is free. However, if you do not have a comfort level with Excel or with formulas, you will probably still be a little stressed interacting with it. In addition, at the end of the process, you still have to get together all of your forms and figure out how to translate what is on your forms, and the Excel spreadsheet to the summary of experience form that your supervisors need to sign. For me, just filling out the paperwork to submit to the BBS when I had finished my hours took me at least 20 hours when everything was said and done. If you have only one site and one supervisor you have worked with, it is more straightforward.


Second, there are downloadable software programs that you load on your computer. I know that one of the study guide makers used to provide one for free, and Arsene ( also makes one. To be blunt, I chose Excel over the free one provided- it was extremely confusing, did not have any instruction or assistance, and did less for me than my Excel spreadsheet did. Arsene's program is much more versatile, has a free trial download, and after you buy it it automatically fills in forms for you to print out. The cost for this program is $49.95. The drawbacks are that it downloads to your computer, it does not show any updates on the site, (which is a problem because the BBS is changing regulations regularly), and if your computer crashes- the program and your data goes with it! You could always back up your computer regularly, but how many of us actually do that?


The most recent player to enter the game is An MFT Intern with some software savvy developed a program that does everything we have talked about and more, and it web-based. This means that you do not download anything to your computer (meaning it works with PCS, Macs, and you don’t have to disable firewalls), the software is updated automatically and regularly (even has the new telecommunications information included), and is backed up daily for you- so your information is secure and stored redundantly. This means your information can't be lost due to a hard drive crash! This program starts at $34.95 a year, but the price goes down if you buy more than one year at a time. It also has a free trial so you can see if you like it. Drawbacks? If you do not have regular internet access it could be problematic to input and track your hours. Pros, nothing to download, lets you know your supervision ratios, and spits out all of your forms completed with your information when the time comes.


(As an aside, I did talk to the maker of when doing my research (so I could get a test login, and they have some amazing plans in the works to make the tracking of hours even better!)


I hope that these brief reviews help you to be aware of options for tracking your hours, and make the process of collecting your hours less stressful and more fun! What is my personal favorite? hands down!