The problem is that a site preceptor has a number of responsibilities, according to the GW SHHS Practicum Site Preceptor Guide:
- Visit the Practicum Website http://www.gwumc.edu/sphhs/studentres/practicum/index.cfm and Register. (See Register: for instructions)
- Review and approve the Student’s Practicum Plan
- Negotiate payment/stipend with Student, if applicable
- Engage student in work and provide constructive feedback and guidance to the student
- Provide guidance for professional conduct
- Complete the following on the Practicum Website:
a. Midpoint evaluation form in conjunction with the student
b. Final site preceptor evaluation of student and practicum
- Address student’s reports of problems, including site safety issues and/or harassment
And now it looks like GWU has taken notice.
Someone from the communications office left the following comment at Autism News Beat, Respectful Insolence and The Poxes Blog:
The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services is still investigating the claims in this article. However, the article gives the impression that Mark Geier was teaching or advising a GW student who was doing a practicum at SPHHS. In fact, Mark Geier was facilitating the use of a non-GW database the student used while doing his/her research, which was not part of a practicum. The student in question was being supervised by a faculty member at the university and the student’s contact with Mark Geier was limited mainly to accessing the information in this database.Clearly the three posts ruffled some feathers. However, this attempt at PR damage control doesn't really help the university. Whoever wrote that is trying to imply that Geier did not serve in any teaching, advising or supervisory role. This is at odds, however, with the role of a site preceptor, who is charged with reviewing and approving the student's practicum plan, engaging the student in work and providing constructive feedback and guidance, providing professional guidance to the student, and evaluating the student and the practicum. Those all certainly seem like "teaching" and "advising".
GW School of Public Health
Office of Communications
But what is this about Mark Geier facilitating access to a database outside of George Washington University? If his past problems with confidentiality when it comes to patient databases is any indication, one wonders what "facilitation" Geier provided. What information did he make available?
Then there's the mention of the student being supervised by a faculty member. I wonder if the faculty member supervising him was Heather Young, who collaborated with Mark and David Geier on two studies looking at thimerosal (one in 2008 and one in 2010) and whose 2008 paper with the Geiers was submitted as expert evidence
In the end, the comment from the GWU spokesperson notwithstanding, Mark Geier, as a site preceptor, was in a position to "teach" and "advise" a graduate student, even if he was not employed by the university; many preceptors have no affiliation with the university. That the university allowed this to happen and did not properly vet his qualifications, or lack thereof, let alone take into account the disciplinary actions being taken against him in numerous states at the time the student was doing their practicum, is unconscionable. Their abject failure in this instance calls into question the overall quality of their practicum program. Have they allowed anyone else to be a site preceptor who was not only not qualified, but antithetical to the promotion of public health?