Purpose of the BSW Field Experience
An integral part of the BSW curriculum is the field work or internship experience. Field work occurs in the senior year and extends over all three academic terms with students working at a field site for two days or 15 hours each week. Students complete a total of 450 clock hours in the field over the academic year.
A hierarchy of learning tasks are mastered in the field while students integrate the classroom content. During the BSW field experience, students are encouraged to obtain vital preparatory experience for their anticipated professional practice. Whatever the particular context, the BSW field placement aims to provide the student with opportunities to:
- Master generalist assessment and intervention skills appropriate to the agency population and client make-up.
- Develop a beginning professional identity through field experiences with assigned cases, including families, groups and individuals. In addition, students may become involved in agency projects related to community issues.
- Gain experience in working with persons from diverse cultural, ethnic and racial backgrounds.
- Acquire knowledge of NASW's Code of Ethics as well as an ongoing clarification and re-evaluation of student's value positions concerning basic social-welfare issues as an integral part of the beginning student field-instruction experience.
Juniors begin the field placement process by discussing their field interests with the Coordinator of Field Instruction during the winter term. Students select a field placement site that is approved by the field coordinator. Field sites must be affiliated with the college, and the student's field instructor (supervisor at the placement) must be a social worker with an MSW degree and two years of post-MSW experience. Part-time students begin the field-placement process early in the spring semester during the junior year of the BSW program.
Interviewing at Field Sites
After meeting with the field coordinator to discuss possible field-placement sites, the student targets one or more agencies for more extensive investigation. Students may contact agencies on their own without first discussing the potential field site with the field coordinator. Affiliation forms and detailed information on the field-placement process can be found in the Field Manual. The Specific Agency Choice (SAC) form is to be completed by all students and can also be found in the Field Manual.
Field Placement Instruction and Liaison
Students are supervised at their field placement by a field instructor. All field instructors are MSW-level supervisors with at least two years post-MSW experience and are approved by the college and Field Coordinator.
In addition to being assigned a field instructor, students are also assigned a field liaison who is responsible for consulting with the field instructor to help maximize the student's learning experience. Responsibilities include:
- Interpreting and explaining the school’s curriculum, objectives and policies to the field instructor.
- Maintaining close communication with the field instructor regarding the student's progress.
It is important for students to build a relationship with their field liaison to benefit from the support and assistance they can provide to the student throughout the field placement.