Field FAQs

 


ADVANCED FIELD PLACEMENT

To ensure that field placements in employment settings achieve high educational standards, approval for field placements must be obtained from the Director of Field Education. Faculty may also be involved in this process. Students should note that it is possible that only part of the competencies, practice behaviors, and guidelines can appropriately be met in the employment setting and so an additional setting (in the same agency or another agency) will need to be identified. In such cases, the student will identify how these will be met in additional setting (s).

Further information may help to clarify this policy: It is possible to do your practicum in your place of employment and continue to do your current job tasks. However, there is a requirement that your job tasks contain learning behaviors that demonstrate the practice competencies identified in the CSWE standards. If the student’s current job tasks qualify as these learning behaviors, then the student will have the responsibility of putting those tasks into a learner’s role through journaling, having supervision done, implementing an in-service, etc. It is necessary for the student to please keep in mind that it is important that the student, field instructor, and field director have an understanding of which aspects of the student’s current job description or responsibilities will qualify as valid areas for practicum experience.

For Advanced Placement, students need to have their hours completed by the end of the summer session. For Foundation Placement, students need to be finished by the beginning of their advanced semester.

Students will receive a final grade for field once all areas of social work competencies have been met.

There are limited faculty members within the School of Social who offer to provide social work supervision. Because this is limited, not everyone is guaranteed supervision through the University.

Students should work with their field supervisor to come up with a feasible schedule that works for both the student and agency.

Travel time, to and from practicum placement, is not to be included in the field hours.

Field placements begin during the fall or winter semesters after the necessary classes and field forms have been filled out. Along with those requirements there is also an evaluation process completed to make sure students are competent in their learning before beginning their practicum placements.

Field education is the cornerstone of professional social work education. Field Education is the internship portion of a Social Work Program and is a critical component of each student's program. Students work with experienced social work professionals in a variety of settings to complement classroom theory and research.


FIELD PLACEMENT IN EMPLOYMENT SETTINGS POLICY
Field is a unique course that is an educationally directed experience not a work experience, and is comprised of a field placement and an integrative seminar. Its purpose is to educate and prepare social work students for generalist practice at the entry level and for advanced generalist practice level. Under certain circumstances, it may be possible to complete a field placement in an agency where a student is employed. No more than two semesters of field may be completed in this way and they must be completed in the same academic year. Also, in order to be considered for this option, students must have a strong record of achievement in prior course work and, if applicable, field placement.

Course faculty arrange learning experiences in field settings, and teach the integrative seminar with a view toward professional development, and the integration and application of key competencies and practice behaviors for generalist practice (BSW and MSW 1st year) and advanced practice year students.

In the field, students are expected to demonstrate a level of autonomy beyond existing job descriptions and/or goals of an individual agency. Field placement agency‐based supervisors are educational partners with course faculty who, together assure that students’ field placements are designed to achieve the social work competencies (as measured by the corresponding practice behaviors) and meet the program’s field placement guidelines.

To ensure that field placements in employment settings achieve high educational standards, approval for field placements must be obtained from the Director of Field Education. Faculty may also be involved in the approval process. Students should note that it is possible that only part of the competencies, practice behaviors, and guidelines can appropriately be met in the employment setting and so an additional setting (in the same agency or another agency) will need to be identified. In such cases, the student will identify how these will be met in the additional setting(s).

If a student wants to pursue this option you will need to complete the following forms:

1. Field Agency Assessment (Evaluation) Form
2. Field Instructor Information Sheet
3. Field Placement in Employment Contract

All documents must be completed and submitted to the Director of Field Education.

Field experience courses are required of every social work student and no academic credits is given for life experience or previous work experience. No courses in the professional foundation areas are waived because of previous employment.

Yes. There is a fieldwork requirement consistent with CSWE educational standards. Foundation year students are required to complete 400 hours. Advanced placement students are required to complete 500 hours. One hundred hours will be done in your area of emphasis. You will work with the Director of Field Education to identify a practicum opportunity that meets our program learning outcomes.

Details relative to application for field practicum are presented in your integrative seminar course. You may also contact the Director of Field Education, Stephanie Guster, (sguster@southern.edu) for information on how to apply for field placement.

Field Instructors represent the heart of the Field Internship as they, in their dual role as practitioners and teachers, enable students to bridge the gap between theoretical concepts and practice realities. Field Instructors are generally social workers on staff in the social service agencies in which interns are placed. In some cases Field Instructors are social workers who are under contract with/or are volunteering for a social service agency or congregation. In either case, the social worker has a formal relationship with the agency and serves as a Field Instructor out of that professional relationship. The Field Instructor embodies the professional mentor role for the intern. In close relationship with the student, it is the Field Instructor who leads the student to a personal understanding of the responsibilities and rewards of professional social work practice. Toward this end, Field Instructors assume the following responsibilities:

Administrative:
1. Orient the student to purpose, policies and procedures of the agency and expectations for student performance.
2. Secure meaningful social work practice experiences for the student(s). This includes assigning tasks to meet the student’s educational needs while considering the student’s skills and preparedness to carry out the agency function. The student will be working under the professional license of the Field Instructor.
3. Secure accommodation of the student role within the agency and access for the student to agency information and services that may be needed for the student's educational requirements and work with clients.
4. Participate in Field orientations, seminars, continuing education offerings, and/or other support systems available for the faculty.
5. Participate in periodic meetings with the faculty Liaison to evaluate student progress and the effectiveness of the educational experience. This includes keeping the faculty Liaison informed in a timely manner about the student’s progress and any problem areas.
6. Provide feedback to the social work program regarding the future use of the placement.
Educational:
7. Become familiar with the basic curriculum content of the social work program and, more particularly, the expected content of Field expectations.
8. Help the student develop their Learning Plan for his/her education in Field to integrate what he/she has learned in the classroom with what she/he is experiencing in Field. This includes operationalizing the Learning Plan competencies.
9. Make available to the student cases and learning experiences that will address the student’s particular learning need and abilities.
10. Provide weekly supervision to the intern. Individualized supervision of internships should involve no less than one hour per week. Establish a regular, "standing appointment" time to meet with the intern each week. In those cases where several interns are placed at the same agency, group supervision may be provided with the understanding that group supervision will be a minimum of an hour a week.
11. Become familiar with the theoretical approaches to social work practice taught in the program and support the student's skill development in line with these approaches.
12. Review the student’s log/journal/supervisory agenda with particular attention to the number of hours the student is in Field placement and hold the student accountable for completing the required hours.
13. Complete and discuss with the student the evaluation forms provided by the school at mid-term and at the completion of the Field internship.

 Occasionally agencies can provide a valuable social work experience for interns, but do not at a given time employ a social worker who meets the criteria to serve as a Field Instructor. In this situation, the agency provides an employee to serve as Task Supervisor to provide on-site supervision, and the social work educational supervision is provided either by an agency licensed MSW volunteer or by an off-site community-based licensed MSW. 

The responsibilities of the agency-based Task Supervisor include:
1. In consultation with the Field Instructor, secure and document meaningful social work experiences for the intern(s) in placement.
2. Assign clients, workload, and other tasks to the interns.
3. Serve as the on-site supervisor to the interns: a. Answer immediate questions the interns have concerning their work b. Supervise interns in case management; and in workload management
4. Orient interns to the agency including to the policies and procedures in the agency, with specific attention to safety in the agency.
5. Review and verify the number of hours the intern participates in the Field placement. Concentration students must complete a minimum of 500.
6. Monitor and document students' organizational performance at the agency, including dependability, attitude, work with clients, participation in meetings, and documentation.
7. Provide formal and informal feedback to the Field Instructor concerning student’s performance and progress.
8. Meet with the intern and the Field Instructor a minimum of two times per semester concerning the student's progress. These meetings may be with the Field Liaison as well.
9. Contact the Field Instructor in the event of any significant changes, difficulties, or concerns.
10. Participate in Field orientation, continuing education and in-service opportunities provided by the Field Education office as do Field Instructors.

 One of the opportunities and responsibilities for students in Field internship is to share the learning experience with Field Instructors. This will happen by identifying learning experiences in the placement, identifying their own professional needs, as well as using the supervisory time to learn what they need to know, share ideas, and evaluate their own practice skills, knowledge, and values. 

Although Field placements vary greatly, all Field placements offer practice opportunities in a number of the following ways: working with individuals, families, groups, organizations including faith based organizations, congregations, neighborhoods, and communities; participating in direct practice, in program development and/or implementation, in program and practice evaluation, and in assessing and even formulating social policy. To identify learning experiences within the placement, the student should consider each of these areas within the agency for potential Field learning. All students in all Field placements should have the opportunity for social work practice for which they are personally responsible within one or more of these areas. Whatever the placement situation, the student should always be thinking, "What can I do to help my client?" and "How can I improve my knowledge and skills?"
Additional Field intern responsibilities in Field Education include:
1. Attending the Field Orientation.
2. Spending at least the required hours per week and per semester in assigned. The Field office will provide information regarding the official start date. Field hours must be completed across the course of the semester; students will not complete hours more than one week before the scheduled end of the semester. Students wanting to begin placements or internship hours before the beginning of the course must have approval of the Director of Field and Field Instructor and must include the start date and tasks on a new learning contract for that semester.
3. Functioning as a professional and a graduate student, in the placement setting. Students are responsible for reading and abiding by the agency Personnel Manual and any related policies including safety policies.
4. Abiding by the NASW Code of Ethics and the applicable State Board of Social Work Examiners Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice.
5. Practice professionalism in all aspects of the practicum experience such as being prompt for work at the agency and adhering to the mutually arranged schedule. It is the responsibility of the student to notify the Field Instructor if unable to report for Field work. Students are responsible for making arrangements for clients to be seen or rescheduled. Unavoidable absences can be made up within a reasonable limit. Irresponsibility with regard to fulfilling attendance expectations will be grounds for termination from Field with a failing grade.
6. Using initiative and creativity in their activities in Field work.
7. Sharing Field experiences and activities in seminar and classroom discussions, in formal presentations, and in recruiting and/or educational NASW presentations.
8. Entering Field experience with a positive and receptive attitude.
9. Completing all seminar and Field internship assignments by designated deadlines, including any required journals and process recordings.
10. Completing documentation required by the agency according to the agency’s personnel policies.
11. Arranging a conference with the faculty Field Liaison and/or Director of Field-Advanced Practice pertaining to problems or other matters of concern to the student regarding the Field placement.
12. Completing an evaluation of the Field experience at the conclusion of the internship. This evaluation form is supplied as part of the termination process in each seminar.

Interns are required to complete and submit all agency documentation as instructed and within the time frames specified by the agency’s policies and the Field Instructor’s directions. Agency documentation requirements are completed during Field internship hours. Agency documentation requirements are paperwork in addition to the seminar requirements. Agencies may require that Field Instructors or supervisors review and/or co-sign interns’ documentation. It is the interns’ responsibility to follow the requirements for agency documentation and not to write anything in a client’s file without learning the proper agency procedure. Agency files are the agency’s property and should never be removed from the agency.

 The process of agency affiliation with Southern Adventist University School of Social Work for the purpose of Field instruction usually involves: 

1. The agency expressing its interest in affiliation through writing or by telephone contact with the Director of Field.
2. The Director of Field meets with an appropriate agency representative to discuss Field internship requirements and to assess further the agency's and designated Field Instructor's qualifications and compliance with program criteria.
3. Upon approval of the agency as a Field internship site, an Affiliation Agreement is signed by authorized representatives of both the agency and the School of Social Work.

 Compensated or subsidized internships will be the exception rather than the rule. It is incumbent on the student to find a funded internship should he/she require it.

PROCEDURE FOR FIELD PLACEMENT CHANGE
1. Field Director and student discuss the problem. Also, the student may prefer discussing the problem with his/her advisor (or another member of the faculty) if the matter is delicate.
2. Field Director, student, and field instructor discuss the problem and explore alternative solutions. The Field Director informs the Program Director of the difficulties. If a solution is not found within the agency, a decision to terminate the placement is then made by the Field Director in consultation with the Social Work Program faculty. Every effort is made to resolve the problem before replacement of a student is implemented.
3. Student, Field Director, and Social Work Program faculty explore options of other placements and a decision to place the student is made.

When a student is not making satisfactory progress or doing satisfactory work in the agency, the Field Instructor and/or Task Supervisor should notify the faculty Director of Field or Field Liaison as soon as possible. Unsatisfactory work includes performance problems like repeated tardiness or absence and late assignments, as well as inadequate demonstration of professional knowledge, skills, or values or serious problems with colleagues or supervisors. The Field Liaison will schedule a conference with the Field Instructor, and subsequently with the student to discuss the problem(s) and update the learning contract to address the problem(s). This information will be communicated to the Director of Field-Advanced Practice, who may be included in any subsequent meetings.

The student will receive formal notification by letter regarding the specific concerns and the specific changes necessary. If the student does not meet the requirements of the updated learning contract and those in the formal notification, the student will receive a failing grade for the placement. If the student may meet the objectives with additional time and work, an “Incomplete” may be given at the discretion of the Field Instructor and Director of Field with contracted, specific requirements for successful completion of the placement. This will be dependent on the willingness of the agency, the Field Instructor’s ability to give the extra time required, and the student’s commitment to and investment in the continued learning requirements.

Students will negotiate days and hours with the Field agency, but will generally only observe agency holidays. Southern Adventist University holidays are published in the Graduate Catalog. Schedule of classes and holidays are also included in the course syllabus given at the beginning of each semester. In the event an agency holiday which is not an official SAU holiday falls on a scheduled internship day, the student must make up such hours as agreed upon by the student and Field Instructor.

In the event of inclement weather that restricts travel, the student shall first follow the University’s procedures. If the University and the agency are closed, the student is excused from his/her placement, and is not required to make up the hours. If the University is closed, but the agency is open, the student may elect, with the permission of agency-based Field Instructor or Task Supervisor not to go to the agency, but the time missed must be made up. If the agency is closed, but the University is open, the student is also required to make up the missed time.

Students are expected to abide by the dress code of the agency. Students are responsible for dressing professionally remembering that they represent the professional staff of the agency and that they represent the School of Social Work. Modest professional dress that is consistent with the policy of the agency and reflects professionalism is expected of all students in the Field.