Editor’s Note: In this issue’s Conversation Suzanne Sankar, Executive Editor of the Field Educator and Associate Dean of Simmons School of Social Work, interviews Cindy Hunter, who along with Julia Moen and Miriam Raskin, edited Social Work Field Directors Foundations for Excellence. Cindy is an Associate Professor and Director of Field Placement at James Madison University. More information about the book can be found at http://bit.ly/2fxkSyX.
All Volume 6.2 | Fall 2016
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.
This article follows-up on a 2013 randomized trial where MSW students were taught Motivational Interviewing (MI). To assess experiences with the MI training, focus groups were held with students seven months post training. Student perceptions of the MI training, maintenance of skills learned with an emphasis on how they transferred training to their field practice and the role of field instructors was explored. Findings suggest that students were able to maintain basic MI skills but had difficulty transferring greater elements of the training to practice. The role of the field instructor was instrumental in whether students did or did not use MI in practice post training.
Keywords: clinical training transfer to field, motivational interviewing, transfer of learning, field instruction
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In 2012, the state of Delaware experienced an unprecedented number of suicide deaths among youth and young adults (aged 13-21). A CDC epidemiologic investigation found mental health problems as a major determinant of the suicide deaths. Faculty members in the Department of Social Work at Delaware State University (DSU) collaborated with the Office of Field Instruction to develop a faculty-led field practicum to address the problem. This article addresses the factors that were considered, including adhering to the philosophy of field instruction at DSU, assessing students’ understanding and mastery of core competencies, and supporting the department’s mission and key underpinnings.
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This paper outlines the experiences of an undergraduate social work program (Bachelor of Social Work) in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Two terms used throughout the paper include: 1) “service user,” equivalent to “client” in the North American context and 2) “caregiver” also known as “carer,” a term used to describe individuals who play the role of caring or supporting service users/clients.
Helping graduate level social work students address and process recent mass casualty violence is a challenge to any classroom. We feel it is especially challenging when the classroom is virtual. While the virtual format allows for video and audio contact, students and instructors may be thousands of miles apart and see each other, like the old Hollywood Squares television program, from only the shoulders to the top of the head. Our Virtual Academic Center (VAC), while in most ways a marvel of technology, does present special challenges when faculty is confronted with such sensitive issues as the killings in Orlando, the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile and the shooting of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge.
Evidence-based practice (EBP) continues to be debated among social work educators, as well as practitioners, while many funding sources are calling for accountability demonstrated by use of EBP. While social work faculty members and field instructors may agree that EBP should be used, reaching consensus on the definition of EBP and incorporation into teaching and practice is difficult. This study considers social work faculty and field instructors’ attitudes regarding opportunities and barriers to adoption and use of EBP in social work classrooms and field placements. Results showed that field instructors, more than faculty, perceived greater opportunities to use and adopt EBP into practice.
Keywords: Evidence-Based Practice, Field Placement, Social Work Curriculum, Social Work Faculty, Field Instructors
This qualitative study, informed by grounded theory, examined junior-level Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) students’ preparedness in cultural competence skills to treat clients with respect and uphold their dignity. The researchers used Hicks’ (2013) elements of dignity, along with questions related to cultural competency, to guide a focus group with students. Overall, the students expressed readiness in the classroom to serve clients. However, some expressed uneasiness with knowing how to apply the practice skills learned in the classroom when in their field practicum. Case studies and skill lab modules could support students’ real-life skills with clients.
Keywords: social work, client dignity, cultural competence, field practicum, BSW program
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Increasing complexities in field education require new field practica models. Concomitantly, growing evidence supports the need for wellness initiatives in social service organizations. This article describes a piloted model of a partnership between two universities and an agency, in which MSW students’ field practicum focused on conceptualizing, planning, implementing, and evaluating a wellness initiative at a social service organization. The article offers a template for other professional programs to adapt. The authors describe the components of the field practicum, in relation to EPAS competencies. The authors critique the placement experience, concluding with future recommendations and further applications.
Keywords: Wellness Initiative; Scholarship of Teaching-Learning (SoTL); Agency and University Partnership; Field placement model; Competencies
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Twenty baccalaureate social work field education manuals from New York State were examined for the content they contained related to student assessment, how they linked theory and practice, and student responsibility in their learning and behavior. Data are examined in the context of the Council on Social Work Education’s Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards (CSWE EPAS) and current literature. Findings highlight the range of content both in areas covered and depth of detail. Results provide a foundation for field programs to compare their manuals as they make revisions for EPAS 2015 and build on recommendations made in the 2014 CSWE Field Education Summit.
Keywords: field education, manuals, CSWE EPAS, assessment, professional behavior
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[Editor’s Note: A version of this article was published in the October 2016 edition of the NASW-MA Chapter’s FOCUS newspaper. FOCUS is only available to NASW members and can be accessed through http://www.naswma.org/?page=195.]
Conversation about the range of foundation year field placements has created a “buzz” in social work education, and it has to do with the range of field placements available for social work students – particularly those in clinical programs. As a clinical social worker and field instructor of many years, and now field director, it has become a topic of much interest, and one around which I hope we can find common ground.
The author would like to acknowledge the generous financial support received from the Bertha Rosenstadt Trust Fund in Health Research, administered through the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto, to carry out this research. She would also like to thank the social workers at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center for participating in this research.
Field education is considered the “signature pedagogy” of the social work profession (Council on Social Work Education, 2008) and has been identified as the most significant component of the social work curriculum in preparing competent, effective and ethical social workers (Bogo, 2015). However, despite its primacy, field education continues to face considerable challenges, especially in terms of how to encourage professional commitment to training and to generate sufficient numbers of student placements. This has been a long-standing issue for universities and the field alike. This paper describes an innovative and highly effective approach that was developed and implemented by the social work service at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto, to ensure that every social worker is regularly involved in offering student placements. This strategy has widespread relevance and application for all agencies employing social workers, as well as for other professions.
The field of social work faces an urgent need to prepare its workforce for the upcoming surge in the population of Americans over the age of 65. Current predictions state that by 2060 the United States alone will have 98 million older adults, nearly double the current figure (U.S. Census Bureau, 2014). With greater longevity comes a greater need for specialized health and mental health services, such as those provided by social workers. By as soon as 2020, an estimated 70,000 additional social workers will be needed to provide services to the older adult population (Pace, 2014). Despite the growing demand, literature has repeatedly cited a shortage of social work professionals who choose to work with older adults (Bures, Toseland & Fortune, 2003; Lee, Damron-Rodriguez, Lawrance, & Volland, 2009; Wang & Chonody, 2013). While 5,000 new geriatric social workers are needed each year, only 1,071 master’s level social work students select gerontology as their concentration (Wang & Chonody, 2013). Furthermore, only 12% of licensed social workers identify aging as their primary area of practice (Lee et al., 2009).