The Field Educator, an online journal produced by the Simmons School of Social Work, promotes knowledge exchange among the social work field education community.

Volume 7.2 | Fall 2017

Editorial

Guest Editorial: Social Work Students as Activists in the Opioid Epidemic

[Editor’s Note: This issue’s editorial is from special guest Allison-Scobie Carroll, President of NASW-MA chapter. A version of this editorial was previously published in the July 2017 edition of NASW-MA’s Focus magazine. Archives of Focus articles can be accessed (by NASW members only) here.]

In recent years the disease of opioid addiction has claimed thousands of lives throughout the Commonwealth, with a staggering four-fold increase in opioid overdose deaths since the year 2000. The loss is so brutal and heartbreaking, and the suffering so profound, that we defend ourselves against its truth. The statistics alone provide a distancing mechanism. The numbers of the afflicted, their ages and geographic locations may serve to help us feel safe; to feel that those who suffer are “other” and that “we” can remain insulated from the grave realities of those we keep at arm’s length.

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Field Scholar

Volunteering Enhances the Social Work Student Experience

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Abstract

While field education has been designated the signature pedagogy of the social work curriculum, students often have exposure to social welfare agencies long before practicum semester(s). Despite the number of social work programs that utilize volunteering to help students better understand the social work profession, little is known about the effects of volunteering on academic measures as well as the student. This study (N=67) found that volunteering has considerable positive benefits for the implicit curriculum through socializing the student, providing a real world context, and embodying the professional value of service.

Keywords: volunteering, service learning, implicit curriculum
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The Meaning and Value of Supervision in Social Work Field Education

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Abstract

Supervision has played an important role in social work field education for many years. This evaluative qualitative study considers perspectives of field instructors and students regarding the meaning and value of supervision. Findings align with the limited information available through literature review. Field instructors value teaching and giving feedback to students that shapes their professional practice in the field setting. Field instructors also value the opportunity to develop their own leadership and management skills. Students value learning from experienced professionals in the field, feedback on skill development, and the opportunity to process what is happening in field experience.

Keywords: field education, field instructor perspective, meaning and value, social work education, student perspective, supervision, qualitative

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Practice Digest

The Summer Summit Model: Maximizing Community Partnerships to Cultivate Policy Practice Field Placements

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Introduction

While competence in policy practice is a necessary element of generalist social work (Council on Social Work Education, 2015), developing field placements in which students have the opportunity to engage in applied policy practice can be challenging. Nonprofit and public agencies, frequently the sites for student field practicums, are limited in the types of political activities in which they may engage (U.S. Office of Special Counsel, 2005). Furthermore, many of these agencies are not informed as to the nonpartisan policy practice activities in which they can be engaged. Additionally, social work education programs may find it difficult to find qualified field instructors at organizations that do engage in policy practice activities. Therefore, students completing social work practicums frequently miss out on opportunities to engage in policy practice as part of their applied social work education.
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Innovating to Keep Pace: A Ten-Year Model for Group Interprofessional Field Placements

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Introduction and Background

Recently, social work field educators were reminded that “the number of students is growing, but the number of quality placements is not keeping pace” (Harriman, 2016, p. 1). With changes in the practice community and the continued growth in social work program enrollment, field education faces pressure to provide high quality placement experiences which meet the Council on Social Work Education’s (CSWE) nine core competencies and prepare students for the real world of contemporary interprofessional social work practice (CSWE, 2008; 2015). CSWE (2008) and Wayne, Bogo, and Raskin (2010) have specified that field education is the “signature pedagogy” of our profession. Bogo (2010; 2015) has noted that field education is the most significant component of the social work curriculum in preparing competent and effective social workers. CSWE (2015) has recognized the need for innovative field instruction programming to meet community needs.
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Expanding Field Placement Possibilities: Considering Public Safety/Service Agencies as Placement Options

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Introduction and Background

The profession of social work has a long history of providing services in agencies that do not have a primary social work focus (Dane & Simon, 1991). This is related to the field of social work being so vast that social workers can ultimately be involved in all stages and situations of life. Social work at times has an image problem of sorts due to this vastness, where the general public may not understand what social workers do. At minimum, they may have a very limited view of social workers, such as equating “social work” with “child protection.” The field of social work is as diverse as the interests of social workers, which means that social workers appear in a wide variety of settings involving direct or indirect work with people. Social workers are often the silent soldiers working in the background anywhere that needs, injustices, or crises exist.
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A Case Study of Photovoice as a Critical Reflection Strategy in a Field Seminar

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Introduction

While Photovoice has been gaining momentum in social work practice, and specifically participatory research methods, it has not been explored as a teaching strategy for critical reflection in the social work discipline. This manuscript seeks to open that discussion by describing the use of Photovoice as a teaching strategy to support student professional identity development and encourage creative critical reflection in a graduate field seminar. A case study of a campus-based MSW field seminar discusses the planning, application, and reflections of implementing this participatory method as a teaching strategy.
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Conversations

A Conversation with Jennifer Harrison

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[Editor’s note: This issue’s Conversation features an interview by Suzanne Sankar, MSW, Executive Editor of the Field Educator, with Jennifer Harrison, PhD, LMSW, Field Director at Western Michigan University School of Social Work. Dr. Harrison discusses her school’s new and timely training on opioid dependence and pain management for their field instructors. She also talks about the Michigan state social work licensing law that requires such trainings and about her commitment to strong and reciprocal relationships between schools and training sites.]

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What We're Reading

Recent Articles of Note

Staying current with scholarship enriches the work of field educators: it teaches us innovative ways to solve perennial field problems, suggests new readings for field seminars, keeps us abreast of current debates in social work education, and even inspires us in our own writing on theory and research. “What We’re Reading” presents our brief summaries of the findings of recent publications in field education. Our emphasis is on implications for practice. Readers are encouraged to suggest articles or books for future review.
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Field Finds

Emotional Triggers to Field Experiences: Preparing Students and Field Instructors

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Introduction

This literature review is the second in a series that will be published in each issue of the Field Educator on topics related to field instruction. The reviews will highlight key components of practice, including reflective models of supervision and creating safe learning opportunities for students. Each review will contain three discussion questions. Our hope is that field instructors will use these questions to enhance their professional development, incorporate these brief reviews in their daily practice, and begin to develop a library of resources.

The topic of this literature review—how students navigate the emotional terrain of their emerging engagement with the realities of social work practice—emerged from discussions with field educators, student interns, and academic field liaison staff. The review begins by discussing emerging evidence in this area, and then integrates the specific roles of field supervisors and social work educators in supporting social work interns in navigating the complexities of social work practice. The review begins with discussion questions and concludes with best practice considerations that can be used when training field educators.
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Kudos

Betsy Voshel: Reflections on an Influential Career

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[Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in the Winter 2017 edition of the University of Michigan School of Social Work’s newsletter Field Notes and is reprinted here with permission.]

Betsy Voshel retired in January 2017 after a long and distinguished career which includes 22 years at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center in Battle Creek, MI, 4 years leading Field Education at Western Michigan University, and 13 years leading the University of Michigan School of Social Work (U-M SSW) Office of Field Instruction (OFI). Betsy recently reflected on her career and her contributions to this school.
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Simmons

The Field Educator is an online journal published by the Simmons School of Social Work that promotes knowledge exchange among the social work field education community. Learn more about Simmons SSW »