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Case 01. Competence in Professional Practice


Sandra Price, Ph.D. is the C.E.O. of a private research and consulting practice. Over the years she has gained considerable experience in conducting evaluations and needs assessments in a variety of social service areas--e.g., educational programs, services for the elderly, alcohol treatment services, and programs for the mentally impaired. A former client for whom she recently completed a study approached her for some additional consulting work. The previous study involved determining the needs for graduated living environments for the elderly in their rural community. Dr. Price recognizes the importance of maintaining a good reputation since much of her work comes from previous clients who have been satisfied. At this time, however, Dr. Price has pressing commitments to other clients/projects.

This new request, although it still related to the elderly population, was outside of the realm of her specific expertise. The client requested that Dr. Price gather data and make economic projections with regard to the need for skilled care facilities for the elderly. The data gathered needed to take into account the amount of skilled care currently in existence (and projected for the future) in the surrounding counties. Important decisions about capital expenditures would be made based on the results of this research. Furthermore, the study had to be completed within a two month time frame.


  1. What are the challenges of competence that this situation raises?
  2. Given the limits of her expertise, the time frame and her on-going client relationships, what should she do?
  3. If the client persists in wanting Dr. Price to do this work, what should she do?

Reflect on the above questions and form your own answers before clicking the Discussion key to review the commentary provided with this case.