Structure and Function of Field Education
1. Academic Structure
Generalist Practice Placement: At the undergraduate level, preparation for generalist practice is mandated by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). A generalist practice placement provides each student with an opportunity to learn basic social work knowledge and skills that are transferable to multiple service delivery settings and varied populations. The Association of Baccalaureate Social Work Program Directors adopted the following definition:
"Generalist social work practitioners work with individuals, families, groups, communities and organizations in a variety of social work and host settings. Generalist practitioners view clients and client systems from a strengths perspective in order to recognize, support, and build upon the innate capabilities of all human beings. They use a professional problem solving process to engage, assess, broker services, advocate, counsel, educate, and organize with and on behalf of clients and client systems. In addition, generalist practitioners engage in community and organizational development. Finally, generalist practitioners evaluate service outcomes in order to continually improve the provision and quality of services most appropriate to client needs.
Generalist social work practice is guided by the NASW Code of Ethics and is committed to improving the well being of individuals, families, groups, communities, and organizations and furthering the goals of social justice."
Concurrent Model: Molloy College uses the concurrent placement model for field education. Students remain in one setting for both semesters of their senior year. Completion of the total 420 hours averages 210 hours each semester which is completed while the student is enrolled in Generalist Social Work Practice II (fall semester) and III (spring semester). Students must also enroll in the Capstone Course (SWK 464 and 465). (see Appendix A for course descriptions)
Integrative Seminar: A weekly seminar (SWK 460-461) facilitated by the faculty liaison is held in conjunction with the placement in field education. Students are assisted in a model of peer support and learning that promotes the integration of theory and practice in the development of a professional self. Student assignments include but are not limited to oral presentations on both the agency and a direct practice assignment, reflective log (see Appendix F), completion of the child abuse training course and professional conference reports. Capstone course content is integrated in the integrative seminar. In order to promote the continuity and coordination of learning, students will be required to enroll in the same integrative seminar section for two semesters.
2. The Placement Process for Students
Pre-field Preparation: Throughout the junior year, social work majors are introduced to field education through a series of presentations, assignments, assessments, and experiences. In the fall semester students are introduced to self assessment through a rubric based on professional objectives. Faculty members complete this assessment of students in order to evaluate their readiness for progression. Assessment results and course grades form the basis for an individualized departmental discussion that ensures students have the necessary competence to progress to the next level of professional development. For students who do not meet minimum competence levels, this assessment initiates discussion with the student and advisor. This discussion may involve a change in major, or other adjustment to the student's course of study.
In early spring a "Start the Conversation" exchange with senior students and the Director of Field Education occurs. At mid-semester, students schedule individual placement interviews with the Director of Field Education. Preparation continues with the submission of an application for placement, current resumes, membership application to NASW and the Insurance Trust for professional liability insurance.
The Interview and Agreement Process
- Based on the placement interview and assessment findings, qualified students research, locate or are given the name and phone number of a possible placement site.
- The student interviews with the site supervisor using appropriate job interviewing skills (e.g. appropriate dress, updated professional resume).
- If the interview is satisfactory to the student and the field instructor, an agreement to work together for the academic year is confirmed through the Director of Field Education.
- If the interview results in concerns by the field instructor or student about a satisfactory learning experience, another placement will be pursued.
Placement in Employee Setting: A student may complete a special application for placement in their employment setting (Appendix C). In order to obtain approval of this special arrangement, there must be an assigned field instructor who is not the work site supervisor. Additionally, assignments must involve learning experiences that are not related to work responsibilities. There must be at least a six month work history. Approval will be based in part on meeting these requirements.
3.Selection of Agency Sites and Field Instructors
Generalist Requirements: Agency sites and field instructors are selected for their interest in teaching and their ability to provide the student with a supportive learning environment that addresses the needs of a beginning social work practitioner.
Orientation and Agency Requirements: Many placement sites have requirements which must be completed prior to beginning field education. Orientation, identification processing, background checks, immunizations and medical clearance are mandated by some agency settings. By meeting these requirements students are introduced, oriented, and engaged in the placement setting through the laws, policies and procedures developed for service delivery.
Supervision Structure and Field Instructor Qualifications: The social work field instructor must have a minimum of three years work experience after completion of the M.S.W.. Effective September 2008, the field instructor must have completed or be currently enrolled in the Seminar in Field Instruction (SIFI). This policy recognizes the standards for supervision set by NASW in order to address the legal and ethical issues in supervision.
Ethical Guidelines: Ethical social work supervisors have the necessary knowledge and skill to oversee the services that clients receive. Practice is limited to those areas in which they have expertise (Robb, 2003).
Legal Guidelines: Legal decisions clearly place responsibility for supervisee's actions directly on the supervisor. Referred to as vicarious liability, imputed negligence, and respondeat superiore, the supervisee is legally regarded as an extension of the supervisor (Kadushin & Harkness, 2002). It is critical that proper practices include regular supervision where there is clear direction, instruction, and review of the student.
Multiple Level Assignments: Within the broad scope of social work, field education from a generalist perspective emphasizes assignments that include micro, mezzo and macro levels of practice. The concurrent educational model utilized by Molloy College means that students are enrolled in practice coursework while completing field education. The content of these practice courses includes focused study on the mezzo and macro levels of intervention. Opportunities for group experiences in the fall semester and organizational experiences in the spring semester will greatly enhance the integration of theory and practice.
4. Diversity and Social Justice
Students interning in human service organizations will develop an understanding of how such organizations address the needs of diverse individuals. Students are encouraged to engage in a process of self-awareness relevant to generalist practice with diverse populations, and to promote understanding, affirmation and respect for people from diverse backgrounds.Students will have the opportunity to experience the impact of their own biases and perceptions on their relationships with diverse populations. It is also anticipated that the injustices and social inequalities that students are exposed to through field education, will be examined in a socio-economic and socio-political context, therefore presenting the need for case and cause advocacy.
5. Agency/College Agreements
Affiliation agreements are required for all sites utilized by students in social work field education. The agreement is written to protect the interests of all parties through shared risks and responsibilities. Students will be delayed in beginning field education if agreements are not signed and on file. (see Appendix B).