Welcome to the Field Educator! The Field Educator is an open access journal dedicated to the exchange of knowledge between field educators in academia and in the practice community. Field is the heart of social work education, and has been designated its “signature pedagogy.” There is a wealth of tacit knowledge held by field educators: field instructors/practice educators, training coordinators, liaisons and field directors. The aim of the Field Educator is to make this knowledge explicit and to share it within the community involved in training social workers.

These are challenging times for field education. Economic pressures have led to staff reductions and increased productivity demands in agencies. Tensions between the service needs of agencies and the learning needs of students, always present, take on new meaning and urgency in resource-scarce environments. Council on Social Work Education’s accreditation standards will inevitably lead us to place additional demands on field instructors to document student attainment of practice competencies. Evolving education models incorporate online technologies, which represent both promise and pitfalls.

Field educators are exploring new ideas to respond to the issues, concerns and problems facing social work field education. For example, they are developing evidence-based methods of assessing student competencies in field, suggesting innovative forms of field learning and mounting collaborative projects between schools and affiliated agencies. It is crucial that these efforts be promoted and evaluated through ongoing communication between field educators and practice communities. Invitation to the conversation is extended to all educators who rely on the clinical internship or practicum for developing student competencies and professional socialization: psychologists, psychiatrists, nurses, doctors, physical and occupational therapists, teachers, and lawyers. Students are also encouraged to share their perspectives.

Field knowledge will be presented in several sections of the journal.

  • The Field Scholar section will feature formal, scholarly, peer-reviewed articles on research and theory on important topics in field education, such as evaluation of student competencies in field and best practices in field instruction.
  • The Practice Digest section presents descriptions of dilemmas and developments in field education. The current Practice Digest includes, among others, discussions about readiness for field, a university-based field placement focused on social identity and social justice, and a trauma training program.
  • Students Speak is a forum for current social work students.

In addition to articles, the Field Educator offers several opportunities for information exchange about field education.

  • What We’re Reading allows field educators to keep abreast of current scholarship by presenting brief summaries of the findings of recent publications about field education, emphasizing implications for practice.
  • News and Notes presents news and information from the field, including grants received, hiring information, new programs and names of recent publications.
  • Conversations features interviews with one or more exemplary field instructors who have provided valuable service to social work education and who have brought exciting new perspectives to supervision. This issue’s conversation is with two recent recipients of the Heart of Social Work award: one from the Family Court Division of the Twenty-Second Judicial Circuit of Missouri and one from the North York General Hospital in Toronto. Conversations will also feature point-counterpoint discussions between field educators on controversial issues.
  • Life in the Field is an interactive blog, anchored by contributions from field faculty and representatives from field consortia in the US and Canada, offering topics of common interest, news, ideas, and field case questions.
  • The Resources section presents links to newsletters, podcasts and reports from schools of social work and affiliated agencies.

We hope that you will enjoy the Field Educator and find it a useful resource. Please consider contributing your own news and scholarship to the journal. Join the conversation by posting comments to articles and to the Life in the Field blog. Send us links to resources of interest and news about your school or consortium.

If field is the heart of social work, let its beat be heard!