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 8.2 | Fall 2018

Editorial

Seven-Year Pitch!

The Field Educator is seven years old! Once a pipedream shared between field educators, it is now a peer-reviewed academic journal where social work field scholars come together to share ideas, research, and concerns – across the globe. And with the growth the journal has experienced, this is an opportunity to make a seven year “pitch.”

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Field Scholar

Readiness for Practice in Social Work Through a Constructionist Lens

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Abstract

This conceptual article applies social constructionist thinking to an analysis of the term readiness for social work practice and its uses. “Readiness,” “ready,” and “not ready” are frequently used colloquially in casual conversations and formally in evaluating student/practitioner aptitude for professional practice; multiple understandings of readiness and how it develops are apparent. Multiple understandings of readiness seem to feed practice assessment and for this reason the apparent multiplicity in sense-making about what it means to be ready (or not) becomes potentially problematic. Social work educators are encouraged to be vigilant to how practice interactions are socially constructed and how this informs conclusions about readiness.

Keywords: social constructionism; readiness; field instruction; practice assessment
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Recruiting, Maintaining, and Sustaining Integrated Behavioral Health Sites for Field Education

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Abstract

Models of integrated behavioral health care are expanding nationwide wherein physical and behavioral health are met concurrently. Social workers, with their clinical and communication skills and strengths-based person-in-environment approach, are well-suited for these settings. In response, social work field placement settings need to keep pace with health care system demands. This paper discusses key components to successfully recruit and sustain integrated behavioral health field placement sites. Challenges encountered as well as helpful strategies to overcome barriers will be addressed to help ensure quality learning experiences for social work students, optimum support for field instructors, and sustained community partnerships.

Keywords: integrated primary care, integrated care, field education, social work field placement
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Exploring the Self-Care Practice of Practicum Supervisors: Implications for Field Education

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Abstract

Despite the increasing attention to self-care within the broader social work profession, research on the topic is nominal, particularly within the context of social work education. This cross-sectional, exploratory study surveyed social work field practicum supervisors (N=127) in one Southeastern state regarding their personal and professional self-care practices. Results indicate a significant relationship between two key variables and personal and professional self-care scores, respectively. Specifically, social work field practicum supervisors from for profit entities reported higher self-care practices than those employed at non-profit entities. As well, those with a social work license indicated higher self-care. Both of these variables (e.g., employer type and licensing status) significantly explained self-care. After a review of relevant literature, this paper reports findings, presents pertinent discussion points, and explicates apposite areas for future research.

Keywords: self-care; field practicum supervisors; social work education
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Innovations in Field Education to Improve Integrated Care for Young People and their Families

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Abstract

Health care services are rapidly changing, shifting away from traditional models toward integrated approaches relying on team-based care. To meet evolving workforce needs, social workers must be prepared for interprofessional team practice in integrated health settings. Much of students’ practical training occurs in field placements. Agencies may not be prepared for integrated and interprofessional practice, presenting a challenge for students in preparing for work in integrated health settings. This article describes how implementation of a student-training model informed the need to more purposefully include the field in training. Specific innovations in field education to improve student and agency preparation to provide integrated care for youth and families are discussed.

Keywords: social work education; field education; interprofessional education (IPE); integrated health; behavioral health
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Practice Digest

Developing an MSW Field Practicum Model in a Forensic Setting

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Introduction

This article describes the Graduated Forensic Learning Model (GFLM), a systematized structured process for onboarding advanced Master of Social Work (MSW) students who serve as interns in a forensic inpatient psychiatric program located on a California state prison campus. The California Healthcare Facilities-Psychiatric Inpatient Program (CHCF-PIP) located in Stockton, formerly the Department of State Hospitals-Stockton, is an adult male correctional institution. CHCF-PIP and the MSW program at California State University-Stanislaus partnered to provide enriching educational experiences to MSW students desiring clinical training. The GFLM uses a gradual or progressive learning approach where students are expected to demonstrate an increase in knowledge, skills, and values during their field practicum. The GFLM relates specifically to CHCF-PIP, however, its utility and applicability is transferable to other social work contexts particularly since literature about onboarding students in field placement agencies is so scant.

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From Good to Great: An Innovative Bridge Program Developing Professionalism and Self-Reflection in Social Work Students Entering the Field

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Introduction

Professional education lies at the heart of social work and serves as the basis for the field’s commitment to developing professional social workers. A vital part of that commitment is field education. According to the 2008 Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards of the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), field education is the signature pedagogy of social work education. Signature pedagogy is a central form of instruction and learning to socialize students to perform the role of the practitioner (CSWE, 2008, p. 8). Field education serves this specific purpose of linking classroom theory to practice. One of the most pressing challenges in recent years for many undergraduate and graduate programs is the shift in student demographics as it relates to student populations who seek degrees in social work. An increasing number of social work students in recent decades are first-generation college students, who often may lack some of the expected social awareness skills needed to be successful in the field (Toutkoushian, Stollberg, & Slaton, 2018).

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Bridging the Divide Between Practice and Academia: An Integrated Model of Field Education

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Introduction

Field education is often seen as the vehicle by which theory is integrated with practice. Through field education, students are able to link the traditional classroom curriculum with real-life practice. If field is the place where curriculum meets practice, why do the worlds of practice and academia seem so far apart? Why do field instructors feel disconnected from social work faculty? In this brief article, we will argue that field departments have a unique and exciting opportunity to bridge the worlds of practice and academia and make unique and meaningful connections between these two worlds. Specifically, we will look at the role of field in facilitating student, agency, and faculty participation in field placements with an enhanced curricular focus (ECF).

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Developing Community Among Social Work Field Seminar Students: Lessons Learned from the Online Classroom

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Introduction

As social work programs respond to the needs of today’s students, pedagogical strategies must be examined. Transitioning to online course delivery or online programs can help meet students’ needs; however, it is important to ensure this shift addresses student anxieties and does not overlook the need to develop a sense of community and connection between students in an online classroom. Students express apprehension regarding the internship in general, along with uncertainty related to navigating necessary technology, and the ability to develop relationships with faculty and peers online. The BSW program at the University of Southern Indiana responded to their students’ needs by developing an online synchronous field seminar course. This paper will share information on how the course was developed and structured, as well as tools for managing student apprehension and creating high levels of student engagement and connectivity.

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Conversations

A Conversation with Tory Cox

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[Editor’s Note: This issue’s conversation features an interview about virtual field practicums with Elizabeth Whitney, MSW, Assistant Director of Field Education-Curriculum and Training for Simmons University’s online program SocialWork@Simmons and Editorial Staff Member of the Field Educator, and Tory Cox, EdD, Assistant Dean of Field Education and Director of the Virtual Academic Center’s Field Education program for the University of Southern California’s Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work.]

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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

Observations of Practice in Field Education: A Literature Review

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Introduction

The Council on Social Work Education’s Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards state that assessment of students’ competence must involve observation in real or simulated practice situations (Council on Social Work Education, 2015). Observation in “real time” or, as termed in this paper, “observations of practice” can present challenges for both field education coordinators and field supervisors alike. While observing students in field placements seems to be essential, strategies for making this an everyday reality in social work field education can appear elusive. This literature review explores the various dimensions of observation. The review culminates with an analysis of the role of the field supervisor in creating, supporting, and planning for observations.

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Kudos

Simmons University’s Kim Kelly Harriman Announces Transition

After years of service to the Simmons University social work community, Kim Kelly Harriman announced her departure from the school in September 2018. Kim performed extraordinarily well in many roles over the past 12 years, including: Adjunct Instructor, Field Liaison, Associate Professor of Practice, Coordinator of the Academic Services Center, and most recently as the Director of Field Education and Student Affairs. Since 2014, Kim has been Editor-in-Chief of the Field Educator, and we are delighted that she will continue in that position as she transitions from academia to direct clinical practice at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Kim’s thoughtful editorials will continue to provide us opportunities to reflect on the current, complex issues happening within our communities, and their impact on all of us, particularly in the work of our students in the field.

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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 »