All Volume 2.2 | Fall 2012

Hail and Farewell, Loretta Vitale Saks

Loretta Vitale Saks has retired from her position as Director of Field Education at the National Catholic School of Social Service, located at The Catholic University of America in Washington D.C.  Ms. Vitale Saks held this position since January 1999. She oversaw the field education program, including developing policies, procedures and guidelines; implementing and monitoring the placement process; and supporting and training field liaisons and field instructors. She also developed an internet-based field database and web-based search engine as part of her oversight of information management.

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Cultural Empathy

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The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) designates field education as the signature pedagogy of social work education in its Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards (EPAS, 2008). The EPAS present a competency-based approach to social work education with measurable outcomes to evaluate the integration of knowledge and practice skills. Across many professions, the Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) has been used for several decades in a variety of settings as an assessment tool for educators to assess gaps between clinical instruction, to gather data for curriculum changes, and to identify the effectiveness of teachers and trainers (Ali et al., 1999; Anderson et al., 1991; Eliot et al., 1994; Regehr, Freeman, Hodges, & Russell, 1999; Reznick et al., 1998; Sloan et al., 1997; Warf, Donnelly, Schwartz, & Sloan, 1999). In addition, the OSCE can help to improve student confidence and to predict educational outcomes (Ytterbert et al., 1998).

In response to the lack of reliable measures of observed practice, several researchers (Bogo, 2010; Lu, Miller, & Chen, 2002) have adapted the Objective Structured Clinical Observation (OSCE) for application to social work in establishing reliable and concrete criteria for evaluating students’ actual practice performance and implementation of core skills (Bogo, Regehr, Logie, Katz, Mylopoulos, & Regehr, 2011)

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Promoting Leadership Learning in Clinical Field Education

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For the past fourteen years, Simmons School of Social Work students have had the opportunity to build leadership skills through participation in the Urban Leadership Certificate Program (ULP).  The ULP is a unique initiative that aims to empower social workers as leaders who can promote change on a broader level while they are intervening to assist individuals, families, and groups.  One major component of ULP instruction is the Urban Leadership Project, an assignment that requires students to develop and carry out a plan to address a service delivery obstacle in their Advanced Year clinical internship.  The Urban Leadership Project provides students with a challenging and rich learning experience. Their leadership learning both parallels and enhances the development of more traditional clinical practice skills.  This article will provide an overview of the ULP, describe the Project assignment, and discuss field educators’ potential impact on students’ leadership learning.
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Promise and Price of Innovation

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The primacy of field education in social work education is well established (Kissman & Van Tran, 1990; Knight, 1996; Savaya, Neta, Dorit, & Geron, 2003; Strom, K., 1991). This is clearly evidenced by the recent naming of field education as the “signature pedagogy” by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Since CSWE began accrediting social work programs, evidence indicates that students report field practicum as the most important course in the curriculum (Briggs, 1977; Roberts, 1973; Savaya, Neta, Dorit, & Geron, 2003; Skolnik, 1988).

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Psychodrama Preparation for Internship

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Psychodrama is a psychotherapeutic technique that aims to guide patients in expressing their life experiences through dramatic enactments. It is a clinical technique that can also enhance clinical skill learning. According to Avrahami (2003), psychodrama focuses on a “protagonist,” or drama character, to explore life issues, conflicts, unfinished business, and maladaptive behaviors in front of a group of learners or patients. Psychodrama has been shown to be successful because it is action-oriented (Dayton & Nicholas, 2009) and offers discussions of each session between the therapist and the protagonist (played by a client) (Avrahami, 2003; Drakulic, 2010). Jenkyns (2008) suggests that psychodrama can be used as a supervisory tool, as it is a “projective work” approach that encourages professionals to act or observe the enactment of life situations relevant to clients (p. 99).  Hinkle (2008) calls this a “parallel learning” process in that a counseling professional learns through the enactment group and appreciates learning from the client’s perspective (p. 401). This article illustrates the experiential use of psychodrama techniques to provide internship orientation and its educational impact on an MSW intern [1]. We analyzed the intern’s notes and the supervisor’s responses for evidence that using psychodrama could provide interns the means to conduct self-reflective learning to prepare them for placement.

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Millenials in Social Work Field Education

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Over the past few years, Generation Y, also called “Millennials,” has been of great interest to individuals and organizations. Many social work students come from this generation. In the United States, Canada, and many other countries, Millennials are considered to be those who were born between 1980 and 1996 (Howe & Strauss, 2000). The dramatic changes in technology, education, and forms of connection, combined with the distinct world events particular to this generation, have left preceding generations of social work educators striving to understand what this may mean in the context of social work education.  I have often heard the following comments when I ask colleagues to describe how they experience young adults: “They are entitled; they want to be given leadership positions without earning them; they can’t get off their cell phones and computers; and they are disconnected, sheltered, and checked out.” Social work literature focused on shaping a profile of the “Millennial experience” can help social work educators further our thinking

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The Heart of Social Work Award Winner: George Baboila

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George Baboila is the recipient of the 2011 “Heart of Social Work Award” from the North American Network of Field Educators and Directors (NANFED) for excellence in field instruction.  Mr. Baboila is one of three co-directors at the Interprofessional Center for Counseling and Legal Services (IPC). He received the award due to his contribution to inter-professional supervision, his teaching at St. Catherine University and the University of St. Thomas School of Social Work, his leadership in the social work community and, above all, his ability to supervise students with complex needs.

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Worksite-Based Field Placements

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Field placements in a student’s place of employment can provide a viable alternative to traditional agency-based placements for students who cannot disrupt salaried employment. For many students, the option of doing an employment-based placement is a key factor in being able to pursue graduate education. Nonetheless, several drawbacks have been associated with these placements including student role confusion, difficulty creating comparable learning experiences, inability of the agency to fully support student-learning experiences, and the additional time required by the field department to arrange and monitor such placements.

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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. Whenever possible, we have provided links to freely available fulltext articles.

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Reflections of a Social Work Student on Witnessing Healthcare Reform in El Salvador

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In August 2012, I participated in a two-week medical brigade to El Salvador, organized by the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES). Before I began working towards my MSW, I worked as a community organizer with public housing tenants in Somerville, a low-income community outside Boston; this work shaped the way I think critically about institutions, inequality, and social change. My desire to combine individual clinical work and community organizing work with Spanish-speaking immigrants led me to social work school. I was curious to see how El Salvador, one of the poorest countries in the world, uses its limited resources to simultaneously attend to individuals’ needs and make structural changes.

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From the Editor, October 2012

We are celebrating the first anniversary of the Field Educator, the online journal to promote knowledge exchange within the social work field education community. In this new issue, “Field Scholar” includes peer-reviewed articles on ethics in field instruction, bridging theory and practice in a domestic violence internship, field directors’ experiences with complex and competing demands in field education, and assessing student performance in field.

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International Interdisciplinary Conference on Clinical Supervision

The Ninth International Interdisciplinary Conference on Clinical Supervision is devoted to clinical supervision theory, practice, and research. The conference provides an opportunity for social workers, psychologists (school, counseling, clinical), nurses, marriage and family therapists, substance abuse counselors, counselor educators, speech therapists, occupational therapists, rehabilitation counselors, and other mental health professionals and educators to examine current issues in clinical supervision research and practice within and across professional discipline.

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Essential Ethics Education in Social Work Field Instruction

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Abstract: Ethics content in field instruction is a vital component of social work education.  Ethical standards and knowledge have expanded significantly in recent years.  The author provides a comprehensive overview of core ethics content that should be incorporated into students’ internships, and also highlights key themes that should be addressed.  Essential ethics content addresses core social work values, students’ personal and professional values, ethical dilemmas in field placements and social work practice, ethical decision-making frameworks and strategies to manage ethics risks.

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Building Bridges: Training Social Work Students in Domestic Violence Work

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The pervasive nature of domestic violence in American society is clear. One in four women in the U.S. reports experiencing violence by a current or former partner at some point in her life (Center for Disease Control, 2008). Domestic violence is a chronically underreported crime (U.S. DOJ, 2003); many acts of coercive control within relationships may fall outside traditional legal definitions of abuse. Yet this crime has serious and lasting physical and mental health effects on women, men and children across the lifespan (Tjaden & Thoennes, 2000). All social workers will work with survivors regardless of their setting or treatment modality (see Danis, “Domestic Violence: A Cross-Cutting Issue for Social Workers”).

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Complex and Competing Demands in Field Education

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The changing demographic, economic, academic, societal, and political contexts of field education in social work have been topics of much discussion and scholarship since the mid-1990s. Recent additions to this changing context include the elevation of field education to the “signature pedagogy” of social work education and the pervasiveness of commercialization within higher education. This study explores the realities of these contexts through the lens of the Field Director. Findings from fifteen in-depth, qualitative interviews suggest that Field Directors experience a complex set of competing demands at a time when needs, requests, and requirements from students, university administrators, and accreditors are on the rise, while resources in the field are diminishing.

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Assessing Student Performance in Field Education

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As the signature pedagogy of social work education, assessing student performance is a critical component of individual field student and program assessment.  A central question is how to measure students’ practice competence. Student performance in field education has been evaluated by measuring students’ interpersonal skills and practice skills. In addition, the effectiveness of field has been measured through self-efficacy scales, student satisfaction scores, client satisfaction scores, and competency-based evaluation tools.  Each of these different methods of evaluation will be discussed.  The CSWE 2008 competencies integrated into student learning contracts and field assessments, surveys, quantitative research, and qualitative research are offered for social work programs’ consideration.

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2013 Prize for Excellence in Field Education Scholarship

The Simmons School of Social Work and the Field Educator sponsor an annual award to promote excellence in field education scholarship. A $1,000 prize will be awarded for an outstanding paper on social work field education. The winning paper will be announced at the 2013 Annual Program Meeting (APM) of the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) and will be published in the Fall issue of the Field Educator. All entries must meet the submission guidelines for the Field Scholar section of the Field Educator.

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Call for Papers, October 2012

The “Field Scholar” is the section of the Field Educator devoted to the publication of formal, scholarly articles on theory and research in field education. “Field Scholar” is issuing a call for theory and research papers on a variety of subjects. These subjects include best practices in field instruction, measures of competencies in field, school-agency collaborations and innovative approaches to challenges in field education. These articles will be reviewed for rigor and relevance by members of a panel of noted field educators from the US and abroad; the list of consulting editors can be found in About Us.

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