Preparing For Field Education
OVERVIEW OF THE FIELD PLACEMENT PROCESS
By following the steps listed below, you begin the process of securing your placement for the upcoming academic year. Note: rank-specific information located below.
Field placements are completed during two to three workdays during normal business hours (Monday-Friday, 8:00AM-5:00PM). To complete field education, employed students must arrange their work schedules to accommodate time in field placement. Additional field education hours must be approved for weekends and after business hours, with appropriate supervision available by the agency. Please review the Field Placement Hours Policy.
A valuable and successful student field experience requires the involvement of many people including the student, those at the field agency, and the College of Social Work. Review the following chart to develop an understanding of the individuals involved in the field placement experience.
An email notification from the Field Education Office will be sent to you to begin your placement process. You will be given access to the Field database and a due date to complete your Field Placement Application. This will occur at different times of the year, depending on your rank (BSSW, MSWI, MSWII, or ASAP) and admission status. In general, you can expect to receive communication at least one semester prior to the beginning of your placement. Timely submission of your Field Placement Application is required. Please note, students completing their placement outside of Ohio should review the following information regarding their placement process found here.
The Field Placement Application is designed to assist the field staff in matching students with appropriate field sites and requests specific information on the student’s employment/volunteer experience, previous field placement experiences, learning experiences requested and special needs or requests. Please refer to the guidelines here to assist you in completing your application.
Students who are requesting to complete their field placement at their current place of employment must complete the Employment-Based Field Placement (EBP) Application. The student’s ability to succeed in field education and become well-skilled in the social work competencies is the central focus in the consideration of an employment-based field placement proposal. The EBP Application must demonstrate that the educational and learning objectives of the field experience will be accomplished within the parameters of the Office of Field Education policies and requirements.
- If you are currently employed at an agency where you would like to complete your placement, you can apply for an Employment Based Placement.
- You will select an Employment Based Placement request on your field application. You will then receive a separate Employment Based Placement Application to complete
- Please review the Employment-Based Placement Policy for more information about requirements and eligibility.
Students will have the opportunity to select preferred field placement agencies. Field staff will review the student preferences and the student Field Placement Application to match students. Please note these are preferences only and specific field placements cannot be guaranteed. With the exception of Out-of-State Students, students must not initiate contact with agencies to seek placements without the approval of the director or field placement coordinator. For further information on this policy, please review the Field Code of Conduct. For further information on this policy, please review the Field Code of Conduct.
Once matched, students will receive notification instruction them to contact an agency to schedule a pre-placement interview immediately. Once a student receives this notification, students are committed to completing an interview with the agency. Some agencies are agreeable to phone or virtual interviews for students who are unable to interview in person due to geographical distance. Students should consider this a professional interview. Please see resources below:
No placement is considered final until both the student & the agency have interviewed and accepted each other. If an agency does not offer you a placement, request feedback and follow up with your field placement coordinator. If the agency offers you a placement, you will make a decision regarding acceptance. If you decline, please contact your placement coordinator to identify another potential agency. If you accept, please notify the agency. You will need the following information below to confirm your placement. You will receive instructions from field staff on how to submit this information and formally confirm your placement.
- Your name
- Your agency
- Your field instructor’s name, degree and license/credentials, address, e-mail and phone number
- If your agency is providing you with a stipend, please indicate the amount
PREPARING FOR FIELD
- Prior to starting your Field Placement, you will be assigned a Field Liaison. They will be in contact with you one to two weeks before the semester begins.
- Familiarize yourself with the Field Placement Calendar. Confirm your schedule with your field instructor prior to the first day of field. Please note you cannot begin your field placement until the first day of the semester you are enrolled in field due to liability insurance coverage.
- Complete all field placement pre-requisites as indicated by the agency (health screening, drug screening, criminal background check, etc.).
Graduate students in Ohio without an LSW are strongly encouraged to have a social work trainee license (SWT). Some agency placements will require a SWT.
The links below will provide you with additional information about the license:
- Please note you cannot complete your SWT application until you have a copy of your schedule with your enrollment in field (6189 or 7189)
Students should expect more passive learning activities during the first few weeks:
- Shadowing and interviewing various employees
- Reviewing policy manuals, case files, and documentation
- Visiting partner agencies
- Attending agency employee orientation and training
Typical placement progression
Expect a minimum of one hour of formal supervision per week.
Teaching methods may include:
- Student activity logs or journals
- Shadowing and direct observation
- Audio/video taping
- Process recording
- Discussion and case presentation
- Documentation review
- Supervision should be scheduled consistently and made a priority
- Prepare for supervision with issues/questions for discussion, create an agenda
- Avoid becoming defensive when receiving critical feedback
- Request specific behavioral information about your performance and initiate discussion on strategies to improve your performance
- Use your learning agreement activities to help guide discussions
- Treat your placement like a job
- Take advantage of all opportunities, be flexible, and open minded
- Take initiative but remain open to guidance and feedback
- Start developing your professional network
- Keep up on paperwork and placement requirements
- Access supports at the college when needed -communication is key!
- Maintain a positive relationship with the field instructor
- Early in your placement, talk to your field instructor about their expectations, work style, teaching style, about how you best learn.
- Recognize that your field instructor is human and will have bad days!
The purpose of HRA is to engage students in advocacy outside of their field placement as well as to allow students the opportunity to provide volunteer services to those most in need. HRA hours mustbe completed outside of the field agency. Hours requirements are as follows:
- MSWI = 8 hours total
- BSSW/MSWII/ASAP = 16 hours total
For more information, review the Human Rights Activities Policy
Potential Student Concerns
- Not having enough to do/having too many responsibilities too quickly
- Not receiving enough/adequate supervision
- Safety concerns
- Exposure to agency politics
- Personal feelings awakened by client situations
- Secondary trauma
Addressing Concerns in Field
- Follow Field Student Code of Conduct and agency policies
- Meet with the field instructor(s) to discuss concerns
- Seek assistance from the field liaison
- Meet with the field instructor and field liaison together
If you are having problems in field, review the Problem Solving Phases document for guidance.
Commit to the Concept of Self-Care
Do you have practices that you engage in every day that nourish and revitalize you? Until we figure out a way for someone else to: nap for us; eat healthfully for us; get some cardio for us; stretch for us; strength train for us, along with engaging in other pleasurable activities that make us feel good and are good for us, we must continue to prioritize doing these things for ourselves. It's important to make sure sure we prioritize the time to have a baseline of routine and health and wellness practices that revitalize us to live our best life, and to have the energy and enthusiasm necessary for working effectively with, and on the behalf of others as a social worker. Below are some resources that will help you recognize signs of stress and incorporate self-care into your daily routine:
- Stress Warning Signals Worksheet
- Self-Care Assessment Worksheet
- Self-Care Plan Worksheet
- Student Self-Care Resources
One view of being resilient is having a stance of emotional equilibrium in the face of adversity. Part of being self-regulated is really figuring out ahead of time what helps us to quickly shift our thinking and behaviors to better support our best selves, and ability to respond skillfully and healthfully in the moment. To be our most effective professional selves, it is helpful to use mindfulness skills to pause and reflect – first to identify that we are having a stress reaction, and secondly to figure out what is the best way to manage that stress and to regulate our emotions. Conducting a self-inventory will help you better understand your stress triggers and develop strategies for effectively managing the situations:
- What are the areas that you anticipate will be a struggle for you?
- How do you respond to supervision, positive and negative?
- How do you handle work-related conflicts?
- How do you handle stress?
- How will you add placement to your already busy life?
If you have questions regarding your individual placement process, please contact your assigned placement coordinator who is listed on your Sonia homepage. If you do not have a placement coordinator, please contact email@example.com.
BEGINNING THE PLACEMENT PROCESS
BSSW Students – An email notification from the placement team will be sent to you to begin your placement process. You will be given access to the database, Sonia, and a due date to complete your Sonia Pre-Placement Requirements. This will occur at different times of the year, depending on your schedule for the practicum. In general, you can expect to receive communication at least one semester prior to the beginning of your placement. Timely submission of your Pre-Placement Requirements is required.
MSW Students – All MSW and ASAP students must meet eligibility requirements and apply for their placement by Friday of week one of the semester before the student starts their practicum experience (SWK 6189 or SWK 7189). Please see eligibility requirements and application deadlines linked here. Once an application is approved, students will be given access to the database, Sonia, to complete their Pre-Placement Requirements. Please note, students completing their practicum outside of Ohio should review the following information regarding the placement process found here.
All Students – The Application and Sonia Pre-Placement Requirement Process is designed to assist our team in matching students with appropriate sites and requests specific information on the student’s employment/volunteer experience, previous practicum experiences, learning experiences requested, and special needs or requests.
Review the documents below for rank-specific information:
Preparing for your BSSW Placement
Preparing for your MSWI Generalist Practicum
Preparing for your MSW II/ASAP Advanced Practicum
The BSSW and MSWI placements are oriented toward the generalist practice perspective. Generalist practice utilizes a broad spectrum of skills to intervene with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. The focus is on building skills that are transferable to different populations as opposed to specialty/clinical skills that are developed at the advanced practicum level. Generalist interventions are guided by: person-in-environment approach, social work values and ethics, strength-based philosophy, respect for diversity, and client self-determination.
The advanced placement is designed to permit students to achieve greater autonomy and to maximize skill development in the integration of theory and practice. There is a greater emphasis on Micro or Macro Practice.
STATEMENT ON EVENING AND WEEKEND FIELD HOURS
The Office of Field Education recognizes that our students who are working and participating in the program have additional barriers in completing the field hours during typical business hours.
Evening and/or weekend field practicum hours are extremely limited due to the challenge agencies face in providing oversight and supervision during these time periods. For students requesting non-traditional field hours, please make note that you may not be placed at your preferred agency and that there may be a delay in starting field due to this limitation. We strongly encourage any student in this situation reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org as early as possible to discuss options. We will also be asking you to keep an open mind about where you will be matched based on your availability in field.
Traditionally, we request that students make at least one business day available for the field practicum. Some of the ways we have supported students in this circumstance are the following:
- If a student is working in a social work agency setting, have they considered applying for an Employment Based Placement?
- Helping the student work with their employer to identify creative strategies to continue working and be in field. Some examples have included reducing to 32 hours a week, working four 10-hour shifts, and/or moving some of the employment hours to evening or weekend times.
- Talking about the possibility of completing the MSW II field practicum over the course of three semesters to maintain 16 hours a week in field versus the traditional 24 hours a week.
- Having a discussion with the student to share alternative part-time tracks for the program which would allow for less credit hours and a lower number of hours per week in field.
OUT-OF-STATE STUDENT INFORMATION
There are a few additional steps in securing a placement for out-of-state students. Our office will work collaboratively with you to establish an affiliation with an agency in your area. The affiliation process involves a legal agreement between the agency and The Ohio State University. This can be a timely process as the agreement goes through the legal teams of both entities. Please note that you cannot begin your placement until this entire process is completed and the agency is approved as an affiliate.
Review the information below for detailed information about requirements and student involvement in the placement process:
Information for Out-of-State Students