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 Foundation and Concentration Level Internships

Updated for the 2020-2021 academic year

Table of Contents

Field Instruction: Mission and Purpose

Letter from the Director of Field Instruction

Welcome MSW Students and Agency Field Instructors to the School of Social Work Office of Field Instruction. 

The Council on Social Work Education states: “the intent of field education is to integrate the theoretical and conceptual contribution of the classroom with the practical world of the practice setting.” Essentially field education teaches future social workers “to think, to perform, and to act ethically and with integrity.” Student experiences during internships can be the most powerful and meaningful aspect of their education. 

Numerous organizations and settings such as family service agencies, community mental health settings, hospitals, residential treatment centers for children, homes for the elderly, group homes, crisis hotlines, health clinics, substance abuse and rehabilitation centers, veteran centers and governmental organizations have provided exciting and challenging opportunities for students to enhance their professional growth and development through experiential learning. 

The School of Social Work at Syracuse University thanks the agencies and professionals within those agencies who take on the role of teaching and mentoring students in their journey to become professional social workers. We understand the time, energy and resources that this commitment takes, and we appreciate the opportunity to work with each of you in the education and training of competent professional social workers.

This manual is intended to provide you with policies, procedures and other important information you will need during the field education practicum. Our goals are to provide an educationally sound experiences to each student, to ensure each student and field instructor is provided with individualized support and consultation and to successfully and effectively facilitate the development of social work competence. 

We hope your field experience will be both challenging and rewarding! 


Tracy T. Walker, L.M.S.W. 

Director of Field Instruction School of Social Work 

David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics 244 White Hall 

Syracuse, New York 13244 (t) 315.443.5565 (f) 315.443.5576 (e) ttwalker@syr.edu 


The Office of Field Instruction (O.F.I.) website  is designed to assist both students and field instructors to navigate successfully through the field experience. 

The following Schools of Social Work are to be credited for material in this handbook: SUNY Albany, Hunter College, University of Chicago, California State University, Michigan State University, University of Akron. 

Field Instruction Overview

Residential BSSW Program

Residential MSW Program—60 Credit Hour

Field Instruction occurs throughout the graduate social work curriculum and is concurrent with specific coursework (see table below). Field Instruction requires two separate internships, one at the foundation level and one at the concentration level, either Advanced Clinical Practice (ACP) or Advanced Integrated Practice (AIP). 

Each field placement is a minimum of 500 hours (250 per semester) and typically occurs across two consecutive semesters in one academic year. Students will intern in social work settings for a minimum of sixteen hours a week, which meets the requirements for earning three credits per semester. A field seminar is a requirement of SWK 671 Field Instruction I, SWK 672 Field Instruction II and SWK 771 Field Instruction III. The field seminar facilitates students’ understanding of the learning experience through critical reflection of field and course work. 

Field Course

Co-requisites 

SWK 671 Field Instruction w/SeminarSWK 601 Foundations for Social Work Practice I

SWK 672 Field Instruction II w/Seminar 

SWK 602 Foundations for Social Work Practice II 

SWK 771 Field Instruction III w/ Seminar 

Advanced Clinical Practice (ACP) Concentration 

SWK 732 Advanced Practice with I.F.G. 

SWK 776 Clinical Practice Evaluation (can be taken either with SWK 771 or SWK 772) 

SWK 771 Field Instruction III w/ Seminar 

Advanced Integrated Practice (AIP) Concentration 

SWK 743 Advanced Integrated Practice 

SWK 775 Program Evaluation OR SWK 776 Clinical Evaluation (can be taken either with SWK 771 or SWK 772) 

SWK 772 Field Instruction IV 

SWK 775 Program Evaluation or SWK 776 Clinical Evaluation as outlined in the concentration program plan if not taken with SWK 771. 

Residential Advanced Standing Program—36 Credit Hour 

Field Instruction for Advanced Standing students is concurrent with specific coursework (see table below). Advanced standing students are required to complete one internship at the concentration level, either Advanced Clinical Practice (ACP) or Advanced Integrated Practice (AIP). This field placement is a minimum of 500 hours and typically occurs across two semesters in one academic year. Students are placed in social work settings for a minimum of sixteen hours a week, which meets the requirements for earning three credits per semester. 

Field Course 

Co-requisites 

SWK 771 Field Instruction III w/ Seminar 

Advanced Clinical Practice (ACP) Concentration 

SWK 732 Advanced Practice with I.F.G. 

SWK 776 Clinical Practice Evaluation (can be taken either with SWK 771 or SWK 772) 

SWK 771 Field Instruction III w/ Seminar 

Advanced Integrated Practice (AIP) Concentration 

SWK 743 Advanced Integrated Practice 

SWK 775 Program Evaluation OR SWK 776 Clinical Evaluation (can be taken either with SWK 771 or SWK 772) 

SWK 772 Field Instruction IV 

SWK 775 Program Evaluation or SWK 776 Clinical Evaluation as outlined in the concentration program plan if not taken with SWK 771 


Online MSW Program—60 Credit Hour

Field Instruction occurs throughout the graduate social work curriculum and is concurrent with specific coursework (see table below). Field Instruction in the online MSW program begins with a 3-credit virtual field experience (VFX) course followed by a three-semester progressive learning internship (3-credits per semester).  This progressive learning internship begins with students developing social work foundation level competencies and then progressing into the development of the concentration level competencies, either Advanced Clinical Practice (ACP) or Advanced Integrated Practice (AIP). 

The SWK 671 VFX course allows for 200 hours of internship experience.  The 3-semester progressive learning internship results in a minimum of 800 hours of in-person agency-based field experience.  Students will intern in social work settings for an average of 16-20 hrs. per week depending on how many weeks you engage in your internship (students have 12 months to complete the 800 hours).   

The VFX requires students to engage in synchronous live classes for 4 hours per week (scheduled two hours twice a week) and asynchronous content.  Between the 4 hours per week live classes and the asynchronous content, students can expect to be spending a maximum of 13 hours per week on this course.

The SWK 672 Field Instruction II and SWK 771 Field Instruction III and SWK 772 Field Instruction IV courses also require students to attend every other week 1 ½ hour virtual field seminar.  The field seminar facilitates students’ understanding of the learning experience through critical reflection of field and course work. 

Field Course

Co-requisites 

SWK 671 Field Instruction I: Virtual Field Experience

Approx. 13 hours per week.
Taken in the student's fourth term.

SWK 601 Foundations for Social Work Practice I 

SWK 672 Field Instruction II w/Seminar 

Approx. 16-20 hrs. per week internship and every other week 1 ½ hour seminar. Taken in the student's fifth term.

SWK 602 Foundations for Social Work Practice II 

SWK 771 Field Instruction III w/ Seminar 

Approx. 16-20 hrs. per week internship and every other week 1 ½ hour seminar.
Taken in the student’s sixth term.

ACP Concentration: SWK 732 Advanced Practice with I.F.G. 

AIP Concentration: SWK 743 Advanced Integrated Practice 

SWK 772 Field Instruction IV w/Seminar

Approx. 16-20 hrs. per week internship and every other week 1 ½ hour seminar. Taken in the student’s seventh term.

ACP Concentration: SWK 776 Clinical Practice Evaluation 

AIP Concentration:  SWK 775 Program Evaluation OR SWK 776 Clinical Evaluation 

Online MSW Advanced Standing Program—36 Credit Hour 

Field Instruction for Advanced Standing students is concurrent with specific coursework (see table below). Advanced standing students are required to complete one internship at the concentration level, either Advanced Clinical Practice (ACP) or Advanced Integrated Practice (AIP). This field placement is a minimum of 500 hours and occurs across two semesters in one academic year. Students are placed in social work settings for a minimum of 16-20 hours a week, which meets the requirements for earning three credits per semester. 

SWK 771 Field Instruction III and SWK 772 Field Instruction IV courses also require students to attend a every other week 1 ½ hour virtual field seminar.  The field seminar facilitates students’ understanding of the learning experience through critical reflection of field and course work. 


Field Course 

Co-requisites 

SWK 771 Field Instruction III w/ Seminar 

Approx. 16-20 hrs. per week internship and every other week 1 ½ hour seminar. Taken in the student’s second term.

ACP Concentration:  SWK 732 Advanced Practice with I.F.G. 

AIP Concentration:  SWK 743 Advanced Integrated Practice 


SWK 772 Field Instruction IV w/ Seminar

Approx. 16-20 hrs. per week internship and every other week 1 ½ hour seminar. Taken in the student’s third term.

ACP Concentration: Clinical Evaluation

AIP Concentration:  SWK 775 Program Evaluation OR SWK 776 Clinical Evaluation


Residential BSSW Field Seminar

Residential MSW and Advanced Standing Field Seminar

Attendance and participation in the in-classroom field seminar components SWK 671: Field Instruction I w/ seminar, SWK 672: Field Instruction II w/seminar and SWK 771: Field Instruction III w/seminar is required. 

Purpose of Field Seminar 

  • Facilitate students’ understanding of the learning experience through critical reflection on field and coursework. 
  • Students’ engage in a structured environment in which to integrate theoretical material learned in the classroom with field experiences.  
  • The structure and assignments facilitate the synthesis of theory, research, policy, and practice and encourage exploration of the profession’s ethics as they relate to beginning generalist practice. 
  • Through the completion of assignments, class discussion, and the field practicum, the student develops an understanding of the social work profession, including values, ethics, social work roles, key theoretical and practice concepts, the use of self, the integration of personal and professional values, and advocacy. 

Online MSW and Advanced Standing Field Seminar 

Attendance and participation in the field seminar components of SWK 672: Field Instruction II w/seminar and SWK 771: Field Instruction III w/seminar and SWK 772 Field Instruction IV w/seminar is required. 

Purpose of Field Seminar 

  • Facilitate students’ understanding of the learning experience through critical reflection on field and coursework.
  • Students engage in a structured environment (asynchronously and synchronously) in which to integrate theoretical material learned in the classroom with field experiences.  
  • The structure and assignments facilitate the synthesis of theory, research, policy, and practice and encourage exploration of the profession’s ethics as they relate to beginning generalist practice. 
  • Through the completion of assignments and class discussion, the student develops an understanding of the social work profession, including values, ethics, social work roles, key theoretical and practice concepts, the use of self, the integration of personal and professional values, and advocacy. 


Foundation and Concentration Level Internships

Description of Foundation and Concentration Level Internships 

Foundation Level 

The foundation level internship emphasizes generalist social work practice at the micro, mezzo and macro levels. Students learn how to advance human rights and social, economic and environmental justice, using a range of engagement, assessment, intervention and evaluation methods in their practice with individual, families, groups, organizations, and communities. Students will develop their identity as a social work professional, while applying ethical principles and critical thinking in practice. Students will also learn how to engage in policy and research informed practice, while developing an understanding of the importance and influence of diversity and difference in shaping a person’s life experiences. 

Concentration Level 

The concentration level internship, either advanced clinical practice (ACP) or advanced integrated practice (AIP), focuses on a deeper understanding of specific knowledge, values, skills, and cognitive and affective processes consistent with each concentration area. 

ACP students learn to practice as clinical social workers. Students engage with individuals, families and/or groups to learn clinical assessment, diagnosis, research informed interventions and evaluation skills. Students will learn how to incorporate clinical practices compatible with a client’s culture and values, in addition to identifying barriers to treatment due to prejudice, oppression, privilege and power. Students also develop an understanding of mental health related issues and policies that affect and inform clinical practice settings. 

AIP students learn to effectively navigate multiple levels of social work practice by engaging in varied professional roles and/or functions. Students develop advanced skills in engagement, assessment, research-informed interventions and evaluation at the direct and/or indirect practice level, by working on with multi-disciplinary teams in community-based settings. Students learn to incorporate social work practices compatible with client, organizational and/or community cultures and values, as well as, developing advocacy strategies that address and alleviate causes of oppression. Students also learn how to modify existing policy or develop new policy at the agency, local, state, or federal levels, in order to positively affect social work practice and delivery systems. 

Both concentrations ensure that graduates will have a curriculum that meets the New York State L.M.S.W. and L.C.S.W. course requirements. 

Progressive Learning - Online MSW-60 Credit Program (Foundation to Concentration)

The progressive learning internship format is a distinctive feature of our MSW Online program.  Students in the MSW Online program will complete their 800 hours of internship at one human service agency: beginning at the foundation level and transitioning into a concentration level experience either in advanced clinical practice (ACP) or advanced integrated practice (AIP).  The breakdown of hours in both levels of internship is fluid and dependent on the student’s progression in the internship, as well as the field instructor’s assessment of student’s readiness to transition into a more focused and skilled level of social work.  Students in progressive learning should spend roughly 300 foundation hours engaging in generalist social work practice at the micro, mezzo and macro levels, while the concentration internship should consist of roughly 500 hours.  The goal is for students to develop a deep understanding of the knowledge, values, skills and cognitive and affective processing within the context of social work field education with little to no placement disruptions. 

Requirements for Entering Foundation and Concentration Level Field Instruction 

Foundation Level 

Students entering the full-time MSW program are automatically eligible to begin field placement planning upon acceptance and matriculation into the MSW program. Readiness for field placement will be assessed during the placement planning process. 

Students entering the part-time MSW program will be eligible for field placement after they complete the first year of classes (or a minimum of 12 credit hours). Readiness for field placement will be assessed during the placement planning process. Academic probation status will be taken into consideration during this assessment. 

Concentration Level 

Students entering concentration level field placement must have passed field instruction I & II and the co-requisites of SWK 601 and SWK 602. Readiness for concentration level field placement is also assessed at the time of concentration level placement planning. 

Selection of Field Instruction Settings 

The School of Social Work has long standing relationships with many excellent human service agencies which offer a broad array of practice modalities and serve a variety of populations. In addition, the O.F.I. is continuously recruiting new field instruction settings. Below are the policies, criteria and procedures for selecting field settings. 

Policy:

Vetting of Field Instruction settings (also referred to as agencies) occurs at the Office of Field Instruction (O.F.I.) level while official University/Agency contracting occurs at the Falk College level. The O.F.I. is responsible for recruitment and assessment of new field settings, along with referral to Falk College for initiation of a contract. A field instruction site is not an approved setting until the Syracuse University-Agency agreement has been fully executed. Students cannot enter the internship site until a fully executed agreement is on file. 

Procedure:

The O.F.I. (one of the Field Office team) complete completes an assessment utilizing the below criteria to determine appropriateness of the setting for social work internships. The field team member will provide information about the field setting to the Director of Field Education to discuss and determine appropriateness. After appropriateness of setting has been determined, the O.F.I. is responsible for completed initiating paperwork that is submitted to the Falk College to begin the contracting process. The contracting process can take an average of 3 months and is managed by the Falk College administrative team. 

Criteria: 

Broadly speaking, the School looks for evidence of commitment to social work principles and values, this is done first by reviewing the mission, values and goals of the organization to ensure alignment with social work principles and values. The field office meets with the organizations leadership to discuss the obligations and requirements for the agency to become an internship partner agency. During this meeting, the field office assesses the agencies capacity to foster a climate conducive to student learning. In addition, new agencies complete the Internship Description form. This form provides information about the kinds of internship tasks the student can engage in at the setting, who the proposed field instructor(s) are, and other demographic information. 

All agency partners must be able to meet the obligations outlined in the Syracuse University Falk College Agency Agreement. Following is a list of more specific criteria for agency selection. Many of these same criteria are outlined in the Syracuse University Falk College Agency Agreement. 

  • The agency must be able to provide learning experiences that allow the student to practice and integrate the nine social work competencies. In the foundation year, the agency must have the capacity to engage the student in generalist practice. In the concentration year the agency must be able to provide students with the specific learning opportunities associated with the students concentration; 
  • The agency must allow the students across all program options in its field education program demonstrate social work competencies through in-person contact with clients and constituencies; 
  • The agency has evidenced that they seek to develop staff and improve programs through training, supervision and connection to the work of experts in their relevant fields; 
  • The agency must have available qualified BSSW and/or MSW Field Instructors and can provide them the support necessary to function as field instructors, plan the student’s program, prepare for and hold supervisory conferences, attend field instruction orientations and trainings, and generally supervise the student’s progress. The agency is given the list of Field Instructor Responsibilities. 
  • The agency acknowledges the student as a learner whose assignment must be geared to learning needs rather than the scheduling demands and workload of the agency. Student assignments must be flexible enough to maximize learning, providing opportunities for foundation and/or concentration learning experiences. 
  • The agency must allow the student access to case records and other appropriate material, and recognizes that the student may present de-identified client information for classroom discussions and assignments. 
  • The agency allows the student to take part in staff meetings, in-service staff training, interagency conferences and such other educational opportunities as might arise. 
  • The agency can provide adequate physical space for meeting with clients, report writing, as well as access to technology necessary for recordkeeping 

Selection of Field Instructors 

Policy: 

The Field education program requires that the Field Instructor of a graduate intern: 

  • possess a Master’s in Social Work (MSW) degree from an accredited school of social work; 
  • have two years post-MSW experience in an agency/institutional setting; 
  • be supervised within the scope of practice as defined by the New York State licensure statute; and 
  • have an expressed interest in and willingness to accept the field instructor’s role and responsibilities within the Program’s field education framework. This includes a capacity to share professional knowledge and experience, and facilitate development of student competencies and practice behaviors. 

Procedure: 

Potential field instructor’s are often identified first by the field setting and referred to the O.F.I. for review and approval. The potential field instructor is sent an e-mail asking them to complete an on-line field instructor application and provide a resume. Attached to the e-mail are several items to inform the field instructor of the responsibilities of being a field instructor, includes the MSW Field Manual, F.A.Q.’s for Field Instructors, and Placement Typology. 

The field application asks the potential field instructor their practice educational background, professional background, their active professional licenses and/or certifications they hold, any past field instruction experience and the reason for wanting to become a field instructor. In addition, the O.F.I. asks about any past disciplinary actions. Lastly, the O.F.I. asks the field instructor to agree to: 

  • Value the educational process for social work students 
  • Ensure that the student is adequately oriented to the agency/program 
  • Document supervision sessions, including subject matter, feedback and remedial recommendations discussed 
  • Provide constructive and effective feedback on an ongoing basis 
  • Complete a Professional Development Plan in cooperation with the student 
  • Expose students to diversity and offer an array of opportunities to enhance the educational experience 
  • Assist students in developing practice skills that are grounded in a bio/psycho/social/spiritual/cultural/environmental context 
  • Differentiate with students between student learning and employee expectations 
  • Assist students in gaining a strengths-based perspective in practice 
  • Provide students with a minimum of one hour of supervision per week throughout the internship. 
  • Address performance issues with the student and field liaison if needed. 
  • Participate in the student/program evaluation process and complete a formal evaluation at the end of each semester. 
  • Attend Field Instructor Orientation, F.I. workshops, field visits and review information provided by the Field Office. 
  • Adhere to the NASW Code of Ethics and professional values 

Upon receipt of the field instructor application and resume, the O.F.I. team reviews the applications and determines if the potential field instructor meets the requirements. The Office Coordinator verifies there license via New York State Office of Professions website. 

Task Supervisors/ Non-MSW Field Instructors 

Task Supervisors

In select instances where valuable learning experiences exist in a setting, a human service professional engaged in social work functions may serve as a task supervisor. Selections are made on an individual basis dependent upon agency’s learning opportunities and the task supervisor’s ability and capacity to provide experiential learning. In instances where a task supervisor is designated to provide the primary day-to-day oversight, the agency is required to also designate someone to provide the required MSW supervision, on a weekly basis. with an MSW.

Non-MSW Supervisors

Individuals that do not fully meet the criteria set forth by the CSWE are not permitted to be field instructors. In cases where students have a task supervisor, each student also meets weekly with a fully qualified social work field supervisor at the community agency who reinforces the social work perspective.

The field program has grandfathered some non-MSW field instructors who were approved prior to the above policy implementation.  In these cases, when a student is placed with one of the grandfathered Non-MSW field instructors, the field liaison reinforces the social work perspective through additional conversations with both the student and field instructor, along with a purposeful focus in seminar and in field visits.

MSW Student as Task Supervisor 

In some cases, an MSW student who is also a staff person at an internship site may serve as a task supervisor to a Syracuse University BSSW social work intern. To ensure adequate supervision is provided to the intern, and to mitigate the potential for dual relationships or other risk issues, the procedure below is followed: 

  • Only MSW students who are in the concentration portion of the program and are staff members at the field site may provide task supervision 
  • The designated concentration level MSW student/staff member may provide task supervision to BSSW interns only. 
  • The Office of Field Instruction (O.F.I.) will be responsible for reviewing and approving any such requests prior to the start of the internship 
  • The O.F.I. will ensure that the BSSW intern is fully informed and will document the intern’s consent. The intern will agree to communicate timely with the assigned field liaison should any concerns or issues arise that could impact the intern’s learning. 
  • In such a case, the O.F.I. will inform the agency-based field instructor and a decision will be made to assign the student to a different task supervisor or to relocate the student to a new field placement agency. 

Information for Part-time MSW Students

  • Part-time students entering field instruction (SWK 671, 672, 771 or 772) are required to have one (1) full day available during the M-F work week. The community has very few evening and weekend hours available for a social work internship. We are not able to accommodate students who have no flexibility in their work week.
  • You must have enough flexibility to complete at least 10 hours of internship during the M-F work week.
  • If you do not have any flexibility in your employment to have at least one weekday open, it may not be the right time for you to complete this program.
  • Completing an internship in your current place of employment may be an option. For more information, refer to employment-based internship section in the MSW Field Manual.

Summary of Graduate Social Work Field Instruction Requirements for Part-Time Students

Part-time students are required to complete two separate 500-hour social work internships. Students are required to follow the placement planning process as outlined by the office of field instruction team to secure an appropriate internship. For more detailed information regarding placement planning and graduate level social work internship requirements, go to the attached MSW Field Manual.

Two Options for How You Complete Internship Hours:

  • Academic Year Only Option: 16-18 hours per week beginning fall semester, continuing through spring and ending mid-May.
  • Year Long Option (only available in designated agencies & some geographic areas do not have this option at all): a minimum of 10 hours per week beginning fall semester, continuing through spring and summer. You can choose this for one or both of your internships. This option does require students to request an incomplete for the field instruction course at the end of the fall and spring semesters.

Field Instruction Timeline for Part-time Students 4-year Plan:

First Year

  • Classroom Courses Only
  • Placement Planning process will begin early spring semester
    Second Year
  • Complete Foundation Level Internship & seminar with the co-req class.
    Third Year
  • Complete concentration level internship/seminar with co-req class

OR

  • Defer internship to 4th year & take classroom courses only
    Fourth Year
  • Take classroom courses only

OR

  • Complete concentration level internship/seminar with the co-req class

Field Instruction Timeline for Part-time Students with 3- year Plan:

First Year

  • Classroom Courses Only
  • Placement Planning process will begin early spring semester
    Second Year
  • Complete Foundation Level Internship & seminar with additional classes.
    Third Year
  • Complete concentration level internship/seminar with additional classes

Placement Planning

The School of Social Work uses a cooperative placement planning process to match a student with an appropriate field placement. A student is required to complete a field application, submit a current resume and participate in a field placement planning meeting with the assigned Internship Placement Coordinator to determine appropriate field placement choices. The placement planning protocol and procedure are outlined below. 

Please Note: All correspondence from the field office will be via syr.edu e-mail, per University policy. 

Residential Placement Planning Protocol 

  • Students may not contact potential field placement agencies without the approval of their Internship Placement Coordinator. 
  • The Internship Placement Coordinator will make every effort to place a student in his/her population, setting and area of interest in Social Work. 
  • Field placement sites are sometimes available within a student’s home community. However, some students may need to commute in order to have access to specific types of experiences. 
  • Field placement sites offering night and weekend hours are extremely limited. Your Internship Placement Coordinator will make every effort to accommodate your scheduling needs, however the O.F.I. cannot guarantee specific placement hours or an internship that can accommodate your work or personal schedules. 
  • The field placement is not officially confirmed until formal notification has been sent from the field office to the student and agency. 
  • Students considering a placement with their employer should refer to the Employment-based Placement Policy and the Employment-based Placement Application on the School of Social Work Field Instruction webpage. 
    • Note: It is the student’s responsibility to have a preliminary discussion with their employer to ascertain their willingness to work with the school and the student to create an employment-based placement opportunity before the student meets with their Internship Placement Coordinator. 
  • Any student who has not been able to secure an approved placement by the end of the add/drop date will be required to drop field and all other required co-requisite courses. Placement planning will then be postponed to the following fall semester. 
  • Students who have not met with a placement planner before August 1st are not guaranteed that they will be allowed to enter the placement planning process. The O.F.I. will assess the feasibility of securing a placement and determine if it is possible to move forward. 
  • The O.F.I. has the authority to stop the placement planning process at any point if the student is behaving unprofessionally or if they are unable to follow the placement planning protocol. 
  • Any changes in the placement planning process should be communicated immediately. This includes communication from the O.F.I. to the student (i.e. program closure, loss of Field Instructor at the location, or change in address), or from the student to the O.F.I. (i.e. student’s placement interests change, student moves, or takes a leave of absence). 

Residential Placement Planning Procedure 

Newly Matriculated Full-Time, Part-Time Students Entering Field for the First Time, and Advanced Standing Students: 

  • Students will be contacted via e-mail by the Director of Field Instruction to begin the placement planning process 

  • Students are directed to return the completed field application and a recent resume to the Director of Field Instruction. 
  • If the student does not send the O.F.I. the field application and resume in a timely manner (2 weeks), the O.F.I. will send a reminder e-mail. If we still do not hear from the student after 2 weeks the O.F.I. will call the student. If we are unable to connect with the student after this, the O.F.I. will send an e-mail notifying the student that they will be taken off the list for placement planning and the O.F.I. will no longer attempt contact. 
  • The Director of Field Instruction will then assign the student a placement planner. 
  • The field application and resume will be put in the student’s electronic field instruction file for future reference. 
  • The assigned Internship Placement Coordinator will contact the student to schedule a placement planning meeting. If the student does not respond to our request for a placement planning meeting, the O.F.I. will send one reminder e-mail, if no response, then the placement planner will attempt contact via the phone. If the student does not respond to the placement planner within a month of being assigned, the student will be notified that they are being taken off the list for placement planning and will not be allowed to enter field in the fall. 
  • The Internship Placement Coordinator will meet with each student to review the field application and resume. A general orientation to field instruction and its role in the curriculum is provided as needed. During the placement planning meeting the Internship Placement Coordinator will: 
    • Assess the student’s experiences and learning interests. 
    • Provide feedback and corrections to the resume, if necessary. 
    • Research possible placements within the student’s area of interest. 
    • Provide interview tips and materials, and role play a “mock” interview when necessary. 
  • At the completion of the placement planning meeting, two to three pre-approved settings are selected as potential locations for internships. 
  • The Internship Placement Coordinator sends a letter of interest with the student’s name and resume, via email, to the pre-approved settings. 
  • The student will likewise receive a letter indicating the agreed upon pre-approved settings and the address, phone number and email address of each agency field instructor or contact person. 
  • It is the student’s responsibility to contact and interview at each potential location. 
  • If the student has difficulty connecting with the potential setting to secure an interview after several good faith attempts, the student should notify the Internship Placement Coordinator immediately. 

The final placement decision is made by the mutual agreement of the Field Instructor, student, and the Internship Placement Coordinator. Placements are not considered finalized until a formal letter of confirmation has been sent to the student and Field Instructor from the Internship Placement Coordinator. 

As a professional courtesy, students are expected to send a letter of acceptance or e-mail to their chosen agency as well as letters declining to any field instructor with whom they have interviewed and not selected the site as their practicum. This can be done via email or formal letter with copies sent to the assigned Placement Coordinator. 

Full-time and Part-Time Students Entering Concentration Level Placement: 

  • In most cases, the assigned Internship Placement Coordinator who is the student’s current field liaison will be the placement planner for the concentration level placement planning. 
  • Placement planning will be initiated through an e-mail to the student from the Office of Field Instruction. 
  • Prior to this placement planning meeting, the student must complete and submit via email a Concentration Level Field Placement Application and current resume to the assigned Internship Placement Coordinator. 
  • The Internship Placement Coordinator will meet with each student to review the field application and resume. A general orientation to Concentration Level field instruction and its role in the curriculum is provided as needed. During the placement planning meeting the Internship Placement Coordinator will: 
    • Assess the student’s experiences and learning interests. 
    • Provide feedback and corrections to the resume, if necessary. 
    • Research possible placements within the student’s area of interest. 
    • Provide interview tips and materials, and role-play a “mock” interview when necessary. 

At the completion of the interview, two to three pre-approved settings are selected as potential locations for internships. Students will receive contact information for locations via e-mail. It is the student’s responsibility to contact and interview at each potential location. 

The final placement decision is made by the mutual agreement of the Field Instructor, student, and the Internship Placement Coordinator. Placements are not considered finalized until a formal letter of confirmation has been sent to the student and Field Instructor from the Internship Placement Coordinator. 

As a professional courtesy, students are expected to send a letter of acceptance to their chosen agency as well as letters declining to any field instructor with whom they have interviewed and not selected the site as their practicum. This can be done via email or formal letter with copies sent to the assigned Placement Coordinator. 

Online Program Placement Planning Protocol 

Online Program Placement Planning Procedure

Notification Regarding Felony Convictions and Unprofessional Conduct 

Students admitted to the Master’s Program are hereby notified that having pending charges, felony conviction or sanctions for unprofessional conduct may impact potential for obtaining field placement (required for graduation), as well as obtaining social work licensure and future employment as a social worker. 

Students who cannot secure a placement after three interviews due to their criminal background or sanctions for unprofessional conduct will be notified that the O.F.I. is unable to secure them a placement. Next steps will be discussed. 

Students with questions or concerns regarding this can contact their Internship Placement Coordinator or the Field Director. 

Employment-Based Field Placement 

Students who are already employed by a human service agency often inquire about using their employer as a field practicum site. There are strict guidelines that must be met in order to be placed at an existing employment site for practicum. First and foremost, the agency must be willing to provide the student with an educationally-focused experience for the required number of internship hours. To ensure the role of student as learner, the student learning opportunities and assignments cannot be the same as those of the student’s employment duties. There is a formal application process and the Director of Field Instruction must approve the proposal. Please note that two-year MSW students are required to complete two separate practicum placements over the course of the program. It is rare for a student to be placed with the same agency in both their first and second year of study. Occasionally this may be approved by the O.F.I. if the agency is able to provide two distinct experiences for students. 

Policy: 

If a student wishes to request an internship in an agency in which she/he will be simultaneously employed, the following minimal conditions must be met: 

  1. The agency employs full-time social work staff; 
  2. An individual with an MSW and at least two years post-MSW experience must be available as a field instructor, subject to the approval of the School. The field instructor may not have supervised the student in another capacity; 
  3. The proposed field instruction assignments must differ significantly from previous/current employment or other field instruction experience within the agency; 
  4. The proposed field instruction assignment must meet curriculum requirements, for example: generalist opportunities for foundation MSW or BSSW students and; 
  5. In the 60 hour MSW program, employment-based internships are for one academic year. Exceptions are made only when it can be demonstrated that the plan for the concentration year employment-based internship clearly meets the criteria presented in conditions 2, 3 and 4 above in which case an exception may be considered. 

Procedure: 

It is expected that the student will have discussed the option for Employment-based Placement with the employing agency administrator responsible for staffing decisions prior to the student’s placement planning meeting. It is understood that all formal negotiations related to the proposed assignment subsequent to receipt of the student’s completed application are conducted by the Field Office. Interested students should complete the “Application for Employment-based Placement” form after consultation with the field office. The form is located on the field webpage. 

The Application for Employment-based Placement is: 

  • Initiated and signed by the student 
  • Authorized by the employing agency with signatures as indicated 
  • Submitted to the assigned Internship Placement Coordinator 
  • Reviewed and Approved by the Director of Field Education 

Final approval of the Application for Employment-based Placement occurs when the student and agency receive a formal letter of confirmation finalizing the placement. Approval of employment based internship is determined by the Director of Field Instruction. An approved and signed copy of the Application for Employment-based Placement will be put in the student’s electronic field instruction file for future reference. 

All inquiries regarding employment-based placement should be directed to the Office of Field Instruction. 

Student is Unsuccessful in Securing an Internship 

Students are given up to three opportunities to interview at potential field settings to secure an internship. The field office will not send students to an unlimited amount of interviews. 

If the above process does not result in a confirmed placement, the Internship Placement Coordinator will meet with the student to discuss what transpired in the interviews and explore reasons why they have been unable to secure a placement. Feedback from the field instructors or interviewers will be used to explore and reassess a student’s readiness for field. Options for next steps will be explored in a meeting with the student and may include: 

  1. Engaging the student in a “mock” interview to assess for areas of improvement and/or readiness for field and then giving student a final opportunity to interview at a potential field setting. 
  2. In cases when the reason for not securing a placement is due to the students availability (whether due to working full or part time or personal reasons), the students schedule will be reviewed to determine if it is feasible to secure any internship with the student’s schedule. If the student cannot change their schedule to accommodate an internship then the student will need to take a leave of absence until the time when they can be available to complete an internship. 
  3. Asking the student to register as a part-time student to take coursework that gives the program an opportunity to assess the student’s readiness for practice prior to entering field. 
  4. Counseling the student to re-evaluate his/her choice of social work as a career. 

In some instances, the O.F.I. may terminate the placement planning process and the student will not be permitted to re-enter field until certain conditions have been met. Such a decision is based upon the Internship Placement Coordinator’s assessment, findings and feedback from interviewers. The student would then be informed by letter that the O.F.I. will not pursue placement planning at this time and describe conditions that must be met to be reconsidered for placement. The MSW Program Director is notified of the decision of the O.F.I. In such cases, the student has the right to request an Academic Hearing from the MSW Program Director to appeal the decision of the O.F.I. 

Student Planning of Internship Hours

Students are expected to be able to engage in internship hours during 8 am – 8pm and students must be prepared to intern at least 1 day during the typical work week (M-F).  The School of Social Work cannot guarantee an internship that is only in the evenings and/or weekends.

Search Radius for Internships

Residential Programs:  The O.F.I will secure placements within the New York State County that the student resides unless otherwise requested by the student.  Students will not be expected to drive over a 60-mile radius.

MSW Online Programs:  The OFI will secure placements within a 60-mile radius of the students residence.

MSW Online Relocation Policy

Students in the MSW Online program must provide the OFI notice of 1 academic term if they are relocating to a new residence during their online program.  This includes moving to another area in your state or out of state.

Placement within the Students Social Work Interest Areas

The OFI does consider the students areas of interest when securing potential internships for students.  The students are asked to rank their interest areas on the field application.  Although we cannot guarantee that the OFI staff will be able to align your specific interests with your internship, staff will try their best to do so.

Acceptance Timeframe for Field Application Requesting Placement

The OFI will accept applications requesting field placement up to 6 weeks prior to the start of the internship course.  Students should be aware that the contract agreement process between the University and internship organization may impact timeliness of starting an internship.

Internship Roles, Responsibilities and Policies

Field Instructor Role and Responsibilities 

The field instructor must possess a Master’s in Social Work (MSW) degree from an accredited school of social work and have at least two years post-MSW experience in an agency/institutional setting. Field Instructors providing clinical supervision may have additional years of post MSW experience and an advanced credential to supervise students in some settings associated with the ACP concentration. 

The Field Instructor is expected to carry out the following responsibilities: 

  • Orient the student to the agency, staff and task supervisors or other social workers with whom the student will work. 
  • Orient the student to safety concerns as outlined in the safety checklist 
  • Collaborate with the student to develop and implement a Professional Development Plan. 
  • Schedule and provide weekly face-to-face supervisory sessions with the student for a minimum of 1 hour 
  • Provide administrative, educational and supportive social work supervision 
  • Document supervisory sessions 
  • Provide appropriate activities and opportunities for the student to develop social work competency consistent with the student level in the program 
  • Regularly review student progress and provide regular positive and constructive feedback 
  • Maintain an ongoing evaluation of the student’s progress and complete written evaluations of the student at the end of each semester 
  • Support the student’s initiative in gaining access to other learning experiences and resources in the agency and professional community when needed 
  • Confer with the field liaison for mutual planning, review, and evaluation of the field experience 
  • Inform the field liaison promptly of any problems in the field placement and, when necessary, develop a plan of remedial action with the liaison and the student. (See Field Problem Resolution Procedures) 
  • Participate in orientation and training activities for field instructors
  • Provide information to the O.F.I. to assist in the future use of the agency as a placement site, including the field instructor’s interest in continuing service as a field instructor 
  • If a task supervisor is used, the Field Instructor is required to regularly communicate with and oversee the task supervisor’s work with the student 

Task Supervisor Role and Responsibilities 

A Task Supervisor may be designated by the Field Instructor to assume specific responsibilities for secondary instruction and supervision on a particular assigned task, project, or assignment. The Task Supervisor does not replace the Field Instructor; rather, they collaborate to ensure that the student learning goals are being met and regular feedback is provided. Field instruction gives more emphasis to using the field experiences as an extension of social work classes, to assure achievement of competency and socialization to the profession. Task supervisors must work in a related discipline and have an understanding of the social work perspective. The task supervisor typically has expertise in an area that expands a student’s learning opportunities. 

The Task Supervisor is expected to carry out the following responsibilities: 

  • Provides secondary instruction/supervision to student on a specific task, project, or assignment as assigned by the Field Instructor. 
  • Responsible for the day-to-day, on-site guidance for specific work, research, and practice. 
  • Provides constructive feedback to student on specific tasks undertaken. 
  • Keeps a record of learning projects or tasks assigned. 
  • Keeps field instructor informed of student’s progress on projects undertaken with task supervisor. 
  • Participates in the field visit with the Field Liaison once per semester. 
  • Provides input to the final Performance Evaluation of the student. 
  • Attends Task Supervisor training sponsored by the O.F.I. as required. 
  • When feasible, participates in a portion of regular supervision with student and Field Instructor. 

MSW Student as Task Supervisor 

In some cases, an MSW student who is also a staff person at an internship site may serve as a task supervisor to a Syracuse University BSSW social work intern. To ensure adequate supervision is provided to the intern, and to mitigate the potential for dual relationships or other risk issues, the procedure below is followed: 

  • Only MSW students who are in the concentration portion of the program and are staff members at the field site may provide task supervision 
  • The designated concentration level MSW student/staff member may provide task supervision to BSSW interns only. 
  • The Office of Field Instruction (O.F.I.) will be responsible for reviewing and approving any such requests prior to the start of the internship 
  • The O.F.I. will ensure that the BSSW intern is fully informed and will document the intern’s consent. The intern will agree to communicate timely with the assigned field liaison should any concerns or issues arise that could impact the intern’s learning. 
  • In such a case, the O.F.I. will inform the agency-based field instructor and a decision will be made to assign the student to a different task supervisor or to relocate the student to a new field placement agency. 

Field Liaison Role and Responsibilities 

The Director of Field Instruction and the Internship Placement Coordinators serve as faculty field liaisons and carry the major responsibility for agency-school contacts regarding the design, implementation and evaluation of the field practicum. The role of the field liaison is to provide a link between the School of Social Work, the student and the internship agency. Field Liaisons meet jointly with the student and field instructor at least once per semester to discuss progress made with their Professional Development Plan. Field Liaisons are also available to the student and the agency for problem resolution. The field liaison is available for the agency field instructor to consult with regarding any matters concerning students placed in an agency and can be contacted at any point during the internship for consultation. The School of Social Work highly encourages regular contact between the Field Liaison and Agency Field Instructor to ensure the field placement is a positive learning experience for the student and the agency. 

The Field Instructor is expected to carry out the following responsibilities: 

  • Develop and maintain working relationships between specified agencies and the School of Social Work. 
  • Oversight of the student learning experience or Support student safety and competency development 
    • Consultation in the development of the individual P.D.P. 
    • Clarification of the expectations of the school and the curriculum 
    • Consultation and support of the problem solving efforts of student and/or field instructor. 
    • Making at least one field visit per semester. This typically occurs at the agency but in some cases, due to distance or other factors, the field visit may occur telephonically or via Skype. 
  • Instructor for Integrative Field Seminar 
  • Review of student field evaluation and awarding field instruction final grade for each semester. 
  • Ongoing assessment of the agency setting, field instructor and the potential for providing educationally sound instructional experiences. 
  • Participate in development and presentation of field instructor training program and related resource materials. 
  • Participation with the Director of Field Instruction in program evaluation activities. 

Student Role and Responsibilities 

The student, in the role of learner and beginning social work professional, with the support of the field liaison and the field instructor has major responsibility for his/her own learning and is expected to actively participate in the formulation and implementation of the internship experience. Responsibilities center on professional social work behavior, the use of supervision, participation P.D.P. along with self- evaluation and the use of agency resources. 

Professional Social Work Behavior 

When students enter the field placement they are expected to accept and abide by the Social Work Code of Ethics as required by the profession, state law, and/or licensing regulations. Students assume responsibility for reading the Social Work Code of Ethics prior to entering field placement. Students assume the liability risks that are inherent in their role as a practicing social work student. 

The student should not allow their personal issues such as psychosocial distress, substance abuse history, or mental difficulties to interfere with professional judgment or performance. The student is responsible for communicating with the O.F.I. if any personal issues are impacting their ability to practice as a student social worker. If personal issues are not remediated the student’s placement can be terminated. The student should be aware that while in field placement s/he may be subject to unannounced drug screening, similar to that of an employee. Should the student refuse or fail the drug screening, s/he may be subject to termination from the field practicum and/or the program. See Field Problem Resolution Procedures for more details. 

  • Student must identify themselves to potential client and constituencies as a graduate social work student 
  • Preparing for and participating in regular conference/supervision with the field instructor, focusing on the student’s learning and application of social work concepts; 
  • Actively participating in the supervisory experience through asking questions, clarifying expectations, and discussing concerns; 
  • Accurately communicating to supervisor any challenges with clients and disclosing practice errors; 
  • Sharing with the field instructor course materials, syllabi and any questions about agency practices that will assist the field instructor in supporting the integration of theory and practice; 
  • Completion of the Professional Development Plan; 
  • Engaging in self-reflection and self-evaluation to be aware of professional areas of strength and areas for growth; 
  • Accurately articulating to supervisor their areas of strength and areas for growth; 
  • Demonstrating a willingness to modify specific behavior based on feedback from supervision; 
  • Getting a clear understanding of what agency material can be shared in the classroom and what is considered confidential material/information; 
  • Appropriately disguising material from the field site to maintain confidentiality; 
  • Bringing to the field instructor or field liaison any questions or concerns relative to use of agency site for class assignment. 

Field Orientation and Other Required Training 

All first year/foundation students are expected to attend a Mandatory Field Orientation held by the O.F.I. prior to beginning their internship. Roles, responsibilities, and rules are reviewed. Safety in field and supervision requirements are discussed. 

The process of becoming oriented to the agency placement, to the supervisory relationship, agency and field safety protocol and decision-making are provided by agency based field instructors and/or task supervisors. 

All students are required to complete the New York State On-Line Mandated Reporter training within the first 2 weeks of the semester they enter field. 

The Professional Development Plan 

The Professional Development Plan (P.D.P.) is a formal plan between the student and field instructor which identifies the learning opportunities/activities that facilitate the attainment of the program competencies. Once students engage in agency orientation activities, they will begin to develop their P.D.P. 

Students should discuss with their Field Instructor how they learn best, their strengths, limitations and areas of interest as they pertain to the agency. The development of the P.D.P. is a cooperative process between the student and field instructor. The P.D.P. will support and inform how the field instructor evaluates the student’s ability to demonstrate related social work knowledge, values and skills. The seminar instructor and/ field liaison reviews the P.D.P. to ensure that it supports educationally sound experiences. The P.D.P. is seen as an organic document that is individualized for each student and develops over time; it will be used for two semesters of field. 

Summary of the Components of the Professional Development Plan 

The Professional Development Plan allows the field instructor and student to address the logistics and supervisory expectations of the field placement; the learning opportunities/activities the student will engage in, including how they relate to social work program competencies and the field instructor evaluation of the student at the end of the semester. The P.D.P. is submitted in three sections to the field liaison: 

Section I:

Logistics and Supervisory Expectations. This section addresses the orientation plan for the student, the supervision plan, and the logistics of field placement hours and the individual tasks, assignments or learning goals of the student. It is electronically submitted to the field liaison on the date indicated on the syllabus. It is reviewed by the liaison and suggested additions, clarifications or changes will be made by the student, if indicated. 

Section II:

Learning Opportunities /Tasks are developed by the student and field instructor. These opportunities/activities should provide the student with an opportunity to practice and 

demonstrate the practice behaviors related to the Council on Social Work Education (C.S.W.E.) program competencies. The educational experiences of field instruction are intended to prepare students with the necessary social work knowledge, values and skills for competent social work practice. Section II is electronically submitted to the field liaison on the date indicated on the syllabus. It is reviewed by the liaison and returned to the student. Suggested additions, clarifications or changes will be made by the student, if indicated. 

Section III:

Section III is submitted shortly before the end of each semester. This section gives the student the opportunity to reflect on competency development, achievements, and areas for continued growth. The student’s reflections are shared with the field instructor and field liaison via email to inform the Performance Evaluation that is completed by the field instructor. 

Documentation of Internship Hours

Students and field instructors are responsible for tracking and documenting internship hours.

General Guidelines: 

The field instructor is responsible for ensuring that the student spends their internship time engaged in activities and learning opportunities that allow the student to develop social work competence as outlined in the nine (9) social work competencies and listed in the Performance Development Plan (PDP).   

An essential part of the student learning experience is engaging with an organizational system and building awareness of the organizations culture.  The learning process Given this, the expectation is that the student spends most of the time at the organization, and/or engaged in community or other agency-based meetings and home visits.  See policy for guidelines and procedures related to counting internship hours for any other off-site practicum-related learning opportunities or tasks.

It is acceptable to count internship time for:

  • Travel time to, from and during community or other agency-based meetings
  • Travel time to, from and during home visits

It is unacceptable to count internship time for:

  • travel time to and from the agency to start and end your internship day;
  • when agency is closed due to weather or holiday
  • for time spent on social work course assignments, readings or homework either at the agency or elsewhere

Procedure: 

The student, in partnership with their field instructor, is required to establish a plan for how time is documented.   The student will outline the number of internship hours per week, internship schedule and the documentation plan in the Performance Development Plan, along with any specific information for school breaks or other planned time off for the academic year.   The field instructor and the student should be prepared to show internship hours documentation, upon request, such as during a field visit.   If the student must call in sick or miss regular internship time, the student and field instructor are responsible for developing a plan to make up any time missed. 

Students must receive prior approval from field instructor to accrue internship hours when off site (see Policy on Accumulating Internship Hours When Off-Site and Unobserved).   This approval should be documented in writing in the Professional Development Plan and comply with the appropriate policy below.

Accumulating Internship Hours When Off-Site and Unobserved  

 Students can accumulate internship hours when off-site and unobserved under the following guidelines.

General Guidelines

  • The student must receive pre-approval from their field instructor to engage in learning opportunities when off-site and unobserved.
  • The field instructor has discretion to approve off-site learning activities as they deem appropriate and can provide rationale to the field liaison.  In addition to ensuring the student is engaged in learning opportunities as outlined in the PDP, field instructors should take into consideration the students:
    • Reliability
    • Initiative
    • Ability to work independently
    • Use of professional judgement
    • Ability to critically think and effectively problem solve
  • Any internship hours accumulated when off site and unobserved, must be related to a specific learning outcome/competency and there must be concrete evidence of knowledge, values, skills and or cognitive/affective processing the student developed as a result of said learning opportunity/task.
  • It is acceptable to count on-call internship time for:
    • direct client contact (via phone, online or in person)
    • indirect client contact such as field instructor or colleague consultation (via phone, online or in person)
    • related documentation
  • Students who engage in on call for part of their internship experience take the risk of accruing an inconsistent amount of internship hours when on call.

Field Visits for Students and Field Instructor 

The Council on Social Work Education and the School of Social Work require that school representatives have contact with field instructors and students during the internship experience to monitor student learning and assess field setting effectiveness. The School of Social Work utilizes field liaisons to achieve this requirement by facilitating a minimum of two (2) on-site field visits, once during the fall semester and once during the spring semester with the student, field instructor and task supervisor (when appropriate). 

The field liaison is assessing the student’s ability to articulate their learning through: 

  • Summarization of internship context and experiences; 
  • Provision of example of integration of theory/social work concepts to practice; 
  • Discussion of specific cases, groups, projects and/ or learning opportunities and in what ways these have advanced competency development; and 
  • Use of social work professional language, concepts and ethical guidelines. 

The field liaison is assessing the field instructor’s ability to provide an effective learning environment through: 

  • Verification of regular and consistent teaching including weekly supervisory sessions to monitor, enhance, support and evaluate student learning; 
  • Discussion of how specific tasks, cases, groups, projects and/or other learning opportunities are appropriate to the students educational level and the related social work competencies; 
  • Verbal articulation of how the field instructor influences the student’s development as a professional; and 
  • Discussion of the organizational culture in relationship to supporting student learning. 

Scheduling the field visit day and time 

  • The fall semester field visit is typically scheduled between mid-October to the end of November. 
  • The spring semester field visit is typically scheduled between mid-March to the end of April. 
  • Field liaisons will attempt to schedule the field visit during the day and time of the regularly scheduled supervisory session. 
  • In some cases additional field visits may occur. Additional field visits may be utilized to problem solve around barriers or struggles with the students learning or within the learning environment. 

Student Disability and Accommodation in Field 

Students with disabilities are expected to meet the same educational standards and requirements for competent social work practice as required for all students. Syracuse University complies with federal and state laws which affect qualified persons with disabilities. It is the policy and practice of the School of Social Work to provide equitable educational opportunities for students with documented disabilities in all programs and activities, including internships or field placements. Students with disabilities who may need accommodation in the field placement are strongly encouraged to talk with a member of the Field Instruction staff. Efforts will be made to work with prospective agencies and field instructors to ensure that students will receive the supports they need to function well within the agency setting. Students are also encouraged to contact the Office of Disability Services at Syracuse University. Reasonable accommodations that facilitate the performance of a student with a disability will be explored with the student and field instructor in the agency setting. Reasonable accommodations do not necessarily mean extraordinary accommodations. 

Transportation 

Students must provide their own transportation to and from their field placement. As part of their field placement duties students may be required to use their personal automobiles for home visits and agency visits. Students are responsible for providing adequate automobile insurance coverage to cover their use of their personal vehicle while performing field agency related duties and activities. Due to liability concerns (i.e., to be sure that s/he is covered to do so), any student who transports clients in her/his personal vehicle must, at the beginning of the placement, inform the provider of the automobile insurance that s/he is using the vehicle for internship. 

Students who drive in a vehicle in performance of their field responsibilities – whether transporting clients or not – should be aware that they are not covered for this activity under the university’s insurance. 

If permitted by the field agency, students may use agency vehicles to perform duties related to their field experience. Students must follow the agency policies and procedures when using agency vehicles. The students are responsible to ascertain and verify that the agency has appropriate insurance coverage of the student and the agency vehicles when the student uses an agency vehicle to perform agency duties or activities during their field experience hours. 

Students are responsible for incurred costs related to parking and driving to and from the field placement agency, making home visits, and agency visits. Some agencies reimburse the costs; some do not. Students are responsible for ascertaining whether the agency will cover the driving costs and to follow the appropriate agency procedures for reimbursement. Agencies are expected to reimburse students for expenses incurred as part of any field assignment, if they reimburse staff for the same expense. 

Student Safety 

The O.F.I. recognizes that there are inherent risks for professional social workers and students engaged in the study of the profession. The social work program will provide students with information and skills to address potentially harmful situations. A student should not be required to engage or to remain in assignments or at placements in which s/he feels physically at risk. If a student’s concern about safety interferes with the learning process, the field instructor or student should contact the field liaison to facilitate exploration of the concerns and to seek a mutually satisfying resolution. 

Office of Field Instruction Responsibilities: 

  • Provide all field students with general written information about safety in field placement; 
  • Provide basic safety information at the student field orientation and during their seminar class 
  • Provide a safety checklist to the field instructor and student, that is required to be reviewed, signed and submitted to the O.F.I. 
  • Provide support, consultation and coaching as needed 
  • Responsive to students concerns about safety 

Agency Responsibilities: 

  • Orient student interns to the agency specific safety policies and procedures. 
    Such orientation should include, but not be limited to, discussion of safety issues in the community, within the agency building(s), with particular clients prone to violent behavior, or regarding clients who may be sharing living quarters with persons prone to violent behavior, to the extent that such information is known. Security of personal belongings of the student intern while at the agency should be also covered and procedures for the student(s) to follow in the event of a safety or security problem 
  • Provide accommodations to ensure students’ safety such as is provided for agency staff. In some situations the agency may need to make even greater accommodation for a student, such as partnering with another staff member for home visits. 
  • Review required safety checklist with the student 
  • Contact the field liaison if an incident occurs in which a student is personally threatened or hurt. 

Student Responsibilities: 

  • Report safety concerns with the agency based field instructor immediately 
  • If personally threatened or hurt the student should contact their field liaison. 

See Appendix IV for Safety Checklist Information 

Social Media & Professional Communication 

Social work students should consider that they will be representing professional social work practice as well as the Syracuse University School of Social Work program while in the classroom, the university community, and the broader area communities. Students participating in field placement are expected to practice in an ethical manner, in accordance with the NASW Code of Ethics, the NASW/ASWB Standards for Technology and Social Work Practice, University policies and New York State laws while working with clients or programs within their placement. 

Students need to be aware that public social networks are not private. Even when open only to approved or invited members, users cannot be certain that privacy will exist among the general membership of sites. If social work students choose to participate in such forums, please assume that anything posted can be seen, read, and critiqued. What is said, posted, linked to, commented on, uploaded, subscribed to, etc., can be accessed and archived, posing potential harm to professional reputations and prospective careers. 

Social work students who use social media (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and other forms of electronic communication (i.e. blogs, etc.) must be mindful of how their communication may be perceived by clients, colleagues, faculty, and others. Social work students are expected to make every effort to minimize material which could be considered inappropriate for a professional social worker in training. Because of this, social work students are advised to manage security settings at their most private levels and avoid posting information/photos about the field placement or using any language that could jeopardize their professional image. Students are asked to consider the amount of personal information posted on these sites and are obliged to block any client access to involvement in the students’ social networks. Client material should not be referred to in any form of electronic media, including any information that might lead to the identification of a client or compromise client confidentiality in any way. Additionally, students must critically evaluate any material that is posted regarding community agencies and professional relationships, as certain material could violate the standards set by the School of Social Work, and/or the NASW Code of Ethics. If a student is found sharing information about agencies on an internet social networking site, or violating field agency policies, action may be taken by the agency or the field office to dismiss the student either from the agency or from the field program. 

In the event that a student’s social media profile or linkage is considered a poor professional practice or an ethical violation, the student will be subject to an academic hearing (see section on academic) 

View suggestions regarding protecting yourself and your personal and professional reputation while on-line.

Sexual Harassment 

As an intern in the community, it is important for you to be familiar with the University and your internship site's sexual harassment policies and procedures.  The School of Social Work Office of Field instruction follows Syracuse University's Sexual Harassment, Abuse and Assault Prevention Policy

This policy covers the following topics:  scope and jurisdiction of the policy, prohibited conduct, consensual sexual or romantic relationships, minors, non-discrimination statement & compliance with laws, Title IX coordinator, resource & reporting options, confidential resources, faculty and staff reporting responsibilities, amnesty for reporting students, students' bill of rights, privacy & confidentiality, and sanctions.

Below is relevant policy information in relation to being an intern through this University:

  1. The agency setting is considered an extension of the University.  If you experience any sexual harassment, abuse or assault within the agency setting, you are protected under the above University policy. 
  2.  The field site you are placed in will also have sexual harassment and workplace violence policies and procedures.  You are also protected under these policies.  The agency is required to orient you to these policies and procedures.
  3. Faculty and field staff are required to share any incidents of sexual harassment, abuse or assault with the Syracuse University Equal Opportunity, Inclusion & Resolution Services (EOIRS).  This includes any incidents that may occur within internship sites.
  4. If an incident is reported or shared with EOIRS, the field staff, in most cases, will work in partnership with the Syracuse University (EOIRS) to provide students and agencies with guidance and support. 

For additional information about sexual misconduct including protective measures, information for victims, complaint process, frequently asked questions, resources and related laws and policies, you can go to Syracuse University's Office of Equal Opportunity, Inclusion, and Resolution Services website.

If you need immediate support, there are resources on campus and in the community.  Information is available at Syracuse University's Sexual Misconduct On-Campus Resources website.

Job Action 

The School of Social Work does not take sides in a strike conflict. In the event of a job action at a site for field instruction in which a student from Syracuse University School of Social Work is in placement, the following procedure will be followed: 

It is the responsibility of the agency field instructor to inform the field liaison of a job action or impending action. It is then the responsibility of the field liaison to notify the Director of Field Instruction of the job action. 

  1. If the social work staff is involved in the work stoppage, the student should be removed from the agency at once based upon the following considerations: 
    • Concern for the learning climate at the agency;
    • Concern for students safety; 
    • The student not be put in the position of being perceived as a strike breaker. 
  2. If the social work staff at the agency is not involved in the job action, the field instructor, student, field liaison, agency management and the Director of Field Instruction will meet to consider whether the student will remain at this site. Final decision regarding the student’s remaining with or being removed from the agency is made jointly by representatives of the agency and the School of Social work. Considerations to be taken into account will include: 
    • concern for the student’s safety; 
    • concern that the student not be perceived as a strike breaker; 
    • the learning climate of the situation; 
    • projected duration of the job action and the impact on the agency; 
    • if the student requests to be removed, this request will be considered. 
  3. In the event that the student is removed from his/her placement, it is the responsibility of the field liaison and the Director of Field Instruction to develop alternate learning experiences of the student. 
  4. Before students leave a placement, they should have (to the degree possible) all their records and recordings up to date and available to agency personnel so that they are fulfilling their professional responsibilities. It is the responsibility of the field liaison to insure that the student is appropriately evaluated on all field work completed. 

Evaluation of Student Performance 

Ongoing Assessment of Performance 

Assessing student performance in field instruction is a continual process and is an integral part of the educational program. Agency based field instructors are responsible for assessing the student’s knowledge, skills and professional values throughout the internship experience. They are responsible for giving regular and timely feedback to give the student an opportunity to adjust any performance concerns or issues. In instances when the student in unable to remediate performance concerns, the field liaison and field instructor will consult to determine status of student in field internship. In instances where the performance concern or issue is an egregious violation of the Code of Ethics, agency policies or University policies, the agency has a right to immediately terminate the student. 

Formal Evaluation of Student Performance 

There are several ways in which student’s performance is formally evaluated. These include: 

  • Completion of a summative field evaluation at the end of each semester by the agency based field instructor. Students and Field Instructors are directed to review the evaluation instrument as part of the preparation for developing the learning agreement. Students and field instructors are required to include a description of mechanisms for competency evaluation in the learning agreement. Examples of evaluation activities are provided to field instructor to assist with the development of the evaluation plan. The field evaluation instrument is available on the field instruction webpage. 
  • Completion of a field visit conferences between the field liaison, the field instructor and the student. Field visit conferences most often occur face to face, but in some instances may occur via telephone or Skype. 
  • Completion of all required field seminar assignments (applicable to SWK 671, 672 & 771) 

Grading 

Field Instruction is a course, and as in any course, there is a grade. Grades in Field are “Pass” or “Fail”. A student achieves a grade of “Pass” by meeting the required performance criteria outlined in this Manual and the related field instruction syllabus; by adhering to the National Association of Social Workers’ Code of Ethics; and by demonstrating the Essential Abilities and Attributes for Performance in the School of Social Work. 

For SWK 671 Field Instruction I and SWK 672 Field Instruction II, and SWK 771 Field 

Instruction III, the seminar instructor, in consultation with the field liaison, is responsible for assigning the student’s grade for the field instruction course. For SWK 772 Field Instruction IV the field liaison is responsible for assigning the student’s grade. Grades for field instruction are based on: 

  • the summative evaluation form completed by the field instructor which reflects the student’s demonstrated knowledge, skills and values in social work practice; 
  • field visit conferences between the field liaison, the field instructor and the student 
  • seminar instructor evaluation based on field seminar requirements (applicable to SWK 671, SWK 672 and SWK 771) 

Performance in field instruction is a critical indicator of the student’s readiness to assume professional responsibilities. In addition, successful completion of field instruction is a formal requirement of the MSW program. Therefore, students must earn a Pass (P) grade for each semester in field instruction in order to continue to move forward in field. A failing grade will result in dismissal from the MSW program. Students should refer to the MSW Student Handbook: Grievance and Appeal Procedures if they feel that a grievance or appeal is warranted. 

Field Problem Resolution Procedures

Productively and effectively addressing concerns, challenges and or conflicts in the workplace is an essential skill for any professional. If problems arise in the practice setting, it is recommended that students and field instructors refer to the NASW Code of Ethics which provides guidance for ethical responsibilities to colleagues and in practice settings. In addition, the School of Social Work provides a problem solving flowchart (see Appendix III) which emphasizes communication of concerns, large or small, at the earliest possible opportunity. 

Field Instructor or Field Liaison Identifies a Performance Concern 

Step One:

When the field instructor or field liaison identifies a problem or performance concern it is brought to the student’s attention as soon as observed so that the student, the Field Instructor and/or Field Liaison have full opportunity to initiate timely corrective steps. Field instructors and students are required to keep documentation (ex: supervisory notes) of problems or performance concerns. 

Step Two:

If after utilizing the problem solving steps above, a resolution cannot be facilitated, the following action may occur: 

A professional improvement plan (P.I.P.) is initiated by the Field Instructor and Liaison, in discussion with the student regarding the student performance issues. The P.I.P. will identify the specific student-related problem areas, skills needing development, the plan for remediation, and time frame for assessing progress toward resolving the problem. The P.I.P. is reviewed with the student and then the student is asked to sign that the PIP was reviewed with them. The Field Instructor and Field Liaison also sign and a copy is sent to the Director of Field Instruction. The P.I.P. is viewed as a tool to provide support and to optimize student’s success. 

If after utilizing the steps described above, and improvement is not seen in the allotted time frame, the following possible actions may occur: 

  1. The student is moved to a different field placement agency or a different field instructor with the same agency. 
  2. The placement is terminated and the student is not permitted to re-enter field until certain conditions have been met (see termination of field placements); 
  3. A grade of “F” is assigned (see Grading Section for details); 
  4. The student is counseled out of the program 

In cases when the agency believes that the continued presence of the student is potentially harmful or disruptive, the student will be removed as soon as an appropriate termination plan can be implemented. Likewise, if the student feels unsafe or otherwise unable to continue, s/he can request a termination of internship. (See Termination of Field Placement section for details.) 

Student Identifies a Problem or Concern 

The process of problem solving on one’s own behalf is an important part of professional development. The first step in most cases involves the field instructor, field liaison and/or Director of Field Instruction coaching the student on possible strategies for resolving the problem him/herself. If this fails, the student, Field Instructor, Field Liaison and/or the Director of Field Instruction initiates a joint meeting to further assess and enact problem resolution strategies. 

If after utilizing the problem solving steps, a resolution does not occur, the following possible actions may occur: 

  1. The student is moved to a different field placement agency or a different field instructor with the same agency. 
  2. The placement is terminated and the student is not permitted to re-enter field until certain conditions have been met. 

Termination of Field Placements 

Field placements are made after a thoughtful and structured pre-placement process that involves active student and agency participation. Once confirmed, a placement is not terminated without careful consideration of all contributing factors. The following outlines the possible ways in which termination can occur. 

  • initiated by the agency/field instructor; 
  • requested by the student and initiated by the Office of Field Instruction (O.F.I.); 
  • Initiated by the O.F.I. without request from student or agency. 

Agency and/or Field Instructor Initiated Termination 

Circumstances that warrant a termination from an agency, initiated by the field instructor, would be as follows: 

  1. Student’s poor performance and inability to remediate concerns. 
    • Potential Actions: the student is not permitted to re-enter field until certain conditions have been met; the student receives a grade of fail (F); or, the Director of Field Instruction determines whether student shall be reassigned to a different field instructor within the agency or if the placement will be terminated and the student re-placed at a different agency. The MSW Program Director is notified of the outcome. 
  2. Student’s egregious violations of Code of Ethics, agency policies or university policies. 
    • Potential Actions: the student receives a grade of fail (F) and the MSW Program Director is notified that the student’s enrollment in field instruction has been terminated. 
  3. Student’s personal circumstances interfere with their ability to meet field placement expectations 
    • Potential Action: the student is counseled to request an Incomplete for field, adjust his/her program status to part time and/or take a Leave of Absence until such time as the interfering factors have been mitigated. Withdrawal from the field placement may require a simultaneous withdrawal from the concurrent practice course; this determination would be made by the practice course instructor. 
  4. Agency’s circumstances interfere with its ability to meet field instruction expectations: 
    • Potential Action: The student will be re-placed at a different agency, subject to agency availability.* 

Student Requested Termination 

Any student who prematurely and independently terminates a placement without prior approval of the O.F.I., will receive a grade of Fail (F). 

Circumstances that warrant a request for termination is as follows: 

  1. Student’s personal circumstances interfere with their ability to meet field placement expectations: 
    • Student Action: meet with field liaison to determine if a request for an incomplete may be appropriate. 
  2. Irreconcilable differences between the agency and student. 
    • Student action: The request for termination is then taken to the O.F.I. for determination. The Director of Field Instruction, field liaison and agency representative will cooperatively decide if the student will be reassigned to a different field instructor within the agency or if the placement will be terminated and the student re-placed at a different agency. 

*If the determination of the O.F.I. is that the student be re-placed at a different agency, arrangements will be made to secure another placement. A revised field placement timeline will be developed to ensure that the minimum 500 hours are completed. Students may be required to complete more than the minimum of 500 hours. The O.F.I. will determine the number of hours to be completed and will inform student before re-placement. 

Office of Field Instruction Initiated Termination 

The O.F.I. reserves the right to terminate placements for any of the conditions above. The O.F.I. is responsible for ensuring an educationally sound experience and for the continual assessment of a student’s ability to ethically and competently practice as a student intern. Furthermore, the O.F.I. is bound by the Code of Ethics to ensure protection of clients from harm due to student action. 

Closure/Endings Considerations 

Regardless of the reasons for early termination, it is expected that the student with direction from the agency field instructor, will carry out adequate closure with clients, co- workers, and the agency. Any plans for closure should include: the exact date of termination, the timing and method used to terminate planned contact with individuals and/or groups; the way in which the student will fulfill other agency obligations (completion of summaries needed for case transfer or closing, for example); and completion of necessary separation procedures (sign forms, returning keys and/or I.D., etc.). It is expected that the closure process will be done in a way that continues to support the student’s learning and the best interests of the clients served. 

Evaluation of Field Instruction Program

Student feedback regarding the field program is vital to the School. Students are provided with the opportunity to formally evaluate the field placement and supervisory relationship at the end of the academic year. In addition, students provide feedback regarding the Field Liaison role and the Field Seminar at the end of each placement. The end of the year evaluation forms provide an opportunity to reflect on the overall field experience in the agency setting. While it is recognized that the information is subjective, it provides an avenue for discussion of any issues that may warrant exploration or change for future student field placements. 

All evaluations are submitted electronically through Syracuse University Office of Institutional Research and Assessment (O.I.R.A.). Students will be notified via email of due dates for all evaluations related to the O.F.I. All feedback is received by the Director of Field Education and constitutes the primary data used in subsequent planning and placement decisions. 

In circumstances when there is a pattern of agency or field instructor concerns from students, 

Appendix I: Social Work Competencies

The School of Social Work Competencies are available here.

Appendix II: Frequently Asked Questions for MSW Students 

Placement Planning

Q: How do I find a field placement? 

A: The School of Social Work uses a cooperative placement planning process to match a student with an appropriate field placement. The process begins with the completion of the Field Placement Application and submission of a resume to the Field Office. Students are assigned to a field placement coordinator who works with them to determine appropriate field placement choices. Students may not contact potential field placement agencies without the approval of their Internship Placement Coordinator. 

Q: I am already employed at a social work agency. Can I do my field placement there? 

A: Students who are currently working or have a potential job opportunity within a human service agency may be able to negotiate an employed placement with their employer. The Employment-Based Placement Policy and the Employment-Based Placement Application is available on the School of Social Work Field Instruction webpage. It is the student’s responsibility to have a preliminary discussion with their employer to ascertain their willingness to work with the school and the student to create an employment based-placement opportunity before the student meets with their Internship Placement Coordinator. To be approved, an employment-based placement proposal must demonstrate that the student can take on tasks that differ from what their previous responsibilities in the agency have been as well as meet the requirements of the curriculum. In addition, the agency must provide a qualified field instructor who is not the student’s regular supervisor. Many students are able to successfully negotiate a field placement within their agency. 

Completing the Placement

Q: What is the difference between a field liaison and a field instructor? 

A: The field liaison is employed by the School of Social Work to be the contact person for students and field instructors during the internship period. The field instructor is employed by the agency and is the internship site supervisor for the student. Field liaisons in cooperation with field instructors are responsible for ensuring an educationally sound experience. 

Q: What are the field liaison’s responsibilities? 

A: The field liaison will: 

  • Meet with the student and field instructor (at the internship site) at least once a semester 
  • Review and maintain all required field instruction documentation 
  • Provide support, coaching, monitoring and consultation for both the student and the field instructor 
  • Ensure that all program requirements are met 
  • Assign the pass/fail grade earned for field 

Q: What are the field instructor’s responsibilities? 

A: The field instructor will: 

  • Ensure that the student is adequately oriented to the agency/program 
  • Provide at least an hour of formal supervision per week 
  • Provide a cohesive array of activities and opportunities to enhance the educational experience of the student 
  • Provide constructive and effective feedback on a regular basis 
  • In cooperation with the student, complete the Professional Development Plan (P.D.P.) 
  • Complete a formal evaluation of the student at the end of each semester 

Q: What are the student’s responsibilities in the field placement? 

A: Sites will vary in their expectations and responsibilities for students. The Office of Field Instruction expects students will: 

  • Develop a Professional Development Plan in cooperation with the field instructor 
  • Engage actively in the supervisory process 
  • Be open to constructive feedback 
  • Conduct themselves in a professional manner 
  • Take personal responsibility for their growth and development as a professional social worker 

Q: When does field instruction begin and end? 

A: Generally, your internship begins the first week of classes and runs to the end of finals week. 

Some school based settings do not have students start until the beginning of their school year. 

Some settings have students come in early for orientation. It is the student’s responsibility to contact their field instructor to arrange a start date which cannot be any earlier than two weeks before the start of the fall semester. 

Q: What happens during school breaks? 

A: Students must negotiate with their field instructor what is expected of the student during school breaks. Depending on the type of internship, you may or may not be able to be away for an extended period of time. Program and client needs must be a priority during your internship. 

Q: How many internship hours are required? 

A: Students are generally required to complete 16-18 hours a week (250 per semester or 500 hours per academic year) preferably in a two day time frame. Some students do break up their hours over several days if this meets client and programmatic needs. Occasionally, part-time students may have an alternate schedule for an entire year. Speak with your placement planner about such arrangements for more detail. 

Q: Can I bank my internship hours? 

A: No. Students are required to be in their internship all semester. Students cannot complete their internship any earlier than semester finals week. If a student exceeds the minimum 250 hours per semester, the additional hours simply enhance the student’s experience. 

Q: Vacation, sick and personal time? 

A: You should treat your internship like a job. The student is responsible for making prior arrangements or calling in if they need to take time off from their internship. The students and field instructor are responsible for tracking internship hours and having a plan to make up any time missed due to vacation, sick or personal time. 

Q: How do I record my internship hours? 

A: BSSW (undergraduate) students will be given time logs during their seminar class that should be used to record their internship hours. MSW (graduate) students need to establish with their field supervisor how their time will be documented. MSW students will be required to provide a mid-semester status report to their field liaison. 

Q: Where can I get information about the field office (including P.D.P. format)? 

A: Your field liaison, the administrative assistant to the field office, or the webpage:  

Q: What is the Professional Development Plan (P.D.P.)? 

A: The Professional Development Plan is a formal document developed collaboratively by the student and field instructor to structure the goals and activities of the individual placement. The foundation and concentration Professional Development Plan guides field instructors and students to develop practice learning opportunities that specifically permit the student to gain competency in all of the practice behaviors which operationalize the competencies. The Professional Development Plan includes a mechanism for cross checking activities with competencies as an additional mechanism for ensuring that the necessary generalist or advanced practice opportunities are available to the student. Field instructors and students receive support in understanding the competencies and in developing the P.D.P. through large group instruction at orientations, field instruction seminars, individual consultation with the field liaison, and supporting materials available through the School website. Resources are available on the Field Office website to enhance the capacity of field instructors to design learning experiences that complement the classroom-based components of the curriculum.

Q: Do I have malpractice insurance? 

A: Syracuse University provides malpractice insurance for all social work students in the field. The policy is a professional liability policy that covers the students while they are participating in an internship for covered claims arising from real or alleged negligence. The policy also provides coverage for legal fees and court costs. In addition, the policy provides for medical expenses incurred as a result of bodily injury to the Insured and/or property damage to personal property owned by the Insured caused by an assault or at the direction of another. Also, the policy provides reimbursement for medical related expenses that the Insured voluntarily pays or has incurred for rendering first aid to others as a result of any bodily injury covered by the policy. This is not coverage for the Insured, but rather to third parties. You will be given a malpractice form to complete and sign during the field orientation. Questions about the policy should be directed to Office of Field Instruction (315) 443-5557 

Q: What records should I retain? 

A: You should keep copies of all documents you receive from the Office of Field Instruction. This includes but is not limited to your confirmation letter, P.D.P., field evaluation and administrative supervision notes. You may need to refer to these documents in the future or they may be required for licensing. 

Q: When should I begin thinking about licensure? 

A: Now! Social work is a highly regulated profession. You and your placement agency are expected to be in compliance with a broad array of statutory and funder policies. The New York State Education Department, Office of the Professions is the licensing regulating body in New York State. Their website is a good place to start learning about your obligations. http://www.op.nysed.gov/prof/sw/ . The Field Office provides information about licensure issues during the field instruction seminar. 

Q: What should I know about the dress code? 

A: Each internship site has different expectations around dress, personal jewelry, hairstyle and color. You should ask your field instructor what is and is not appropriate to wear. Regardless of a formal or informal dress code, students are always expected to present in a professional manner. 

Q: How should I protect my personal information while I’m in my internship? 

A: Remember never to give your phone number or address to clients or their family members and revise your privacy setting on any social media sites to ensure that personal information cannot be accessed without your knowledge and consent. 

Q: Can I change my placement after I have already started? 

A: The Office of Field Instruction rarely allows a student to change their field placement during the academic year. The Field Office understands the cycle of an internship, therefore a process has been established to address typical problems in field. Please refer to the problem solving flowsheet on the Field Instruction Website; it is also posted on Blackboard for seminars. Any concerns about your ability to complete your placement should be brought to your field instructor and liaison immediately. 

Q: Do I need to identify myself as a social work intern when working with clients? 

A: Yes. National Association of Social Workers (NASW) and the Council on Social Work Education (C.S.W.E.), have very clear ethical standards governing students and their supervisors failing to identify a practitioner as a student. The NASW Code of Ethics provides ethical standards and violations can be brought to the New York State Office of Professional Discipline. Also, social work programs and field placement agencies that do not ensure that students disclose their intern status are in violation of C.S.W.E. standards.  Clients and other professionals have a right to know the qualification of their service provider. Clients have a right to decline services from an intern, however, this rarely occurs. 

Q: What does the school mean by professional social work behavior? 

A: The field placement is the arena where students are socialized to professional social work behavior. Professional social work behavior in the context of academic performance includes ethical behavior and psychological well-being sufficient to interact positively with clients. The NASW Code of Ethics and the C.S.W.E. competencies and practice behaviors provide guidelines for practitioners. Developing professional social work behavior is an ongoing process which requires continuous reflection and self-awareness. 

Q: What is the difference in expectations for BSSW and first year MSW students? 

A: There is no difference in expectations for BSSW and first year MSW students. BSSW students are held to the same standards as first year MSW students. BSSW students who successfully complete an undergraduate program in Social Work are awarded advanced standing status in a Master of Social Work program and enter directly into the concentration year of the curriculum. 

Q: What is the difference in expectations between foundation and concentration level MSW students? 

A: MSW students at the foundation level enter into a generalist or foundation level placement which is broad-based with regard to skill development and emphasizes micro, mezzo and macro level practice. Two  concentrations will be offered beginning in academic year 2016-17: Advanced Clinical Practice (ACP) and Advanced Integrative Practice (AIP). 

ACP is designed for students interested in becoming clinicians who are capable of providing in depth, relationally-focused, evidence-informed interventions to a wide range of populations. Graduates will be prepared for clinical practice in traditional behavioral and mental health settings and will be adept at clinical assessment, intervention and evaluation through diagnostic skills and the use of the DSM-5. 

AIP has been developed for students interested in direct and indirect practice, working on multi-disciplinary teams and in community-based social work as direct practitioners, supervisors, program planners and managers. Graduates will be able to practice in multidisciplinary settings such as hospitals, schools, child welfare agencies, community centers, or agencies that support individuals in independent living. They will be adept at weaving micro, mezzo, or macro practice to assist individual clients, or community groupings within complex systems. Both concentrations ensure that graduates will have a curriculum that meets the New York State L.M.S.W. and L.C.S.W. course requirements. 

Q: What is generalist practice? 

A: Generalist practice is grounded in the liberal arts and the person in environment construct. To promote human and social well-being, generalist practitioners use a large range of prevention and intervention methods in their practice with individual, families, groups, organizations, and communities. The generalist practitioner identifies with the social work profession and applies ethical principles and critical thinking in practice. Generalist practitioners incorporate diversity in their practice and advocate for human rights and social and economic justice. They recognize, support, and build on the strengths and resiliency of all human beings. They engage in research-informed practice and are proactive in responding to the impact of context on professional practice. Generalist social work practice encompasses a broad spectrum of knowledge and skills in understanding clients’ needs within the scope of the environment. Generalist social work involves addressing the relationship between individual and collective issues utilizing a systems approach to practice that respects cultural diversity. Generalist social workers provide comprehensive assessments of problems and evaluate multiple solutions in order to choose appropriate interventions to build upon the strengths of client systems. 

Q: When do I declare my concentration and start planning next year’s placements? 

A: Concentration declaration is made in the fall of the foundation year before spring registration takes place. The choice of concentration is one factor that determines what courses the student will take in the upcoming semester. Placement planning begins at the start of the spring semester. 

Q: Can I remain in the same agency for two years? 

A: Generally, no. Exposure to diverse practice settings is crucial to a student’s growth and development as a professional social worker. Exceptions are made only when it serves the best interest of the student. 

Q: Can I complete a placement in a private practice? 

A: No. The school has a policy against placing students in a private practice setting. 

Appendix III: Problem Resolution Chart 

  1. Student identifies a problem or concern 
  2. Student and field instructor discuss issue 
    1. Issue is resolved or a plan is made to address the problem
    2. Issue is not resolved and no plan to address problem
      1. Student consults with S.U. field liaison who provides coaching
      2. Student and field instructor discuss issue again
        1. Issue is resolved or a plan is made to address the problem
        2. Issue is still not resolved and no plan to address problem
          1. Student notifies S.U. field liaison 
          2. Liaison schedules & facilitates meeting with field instructor & student
          3. Field Liaison notifies Director of Field Instruction 
            1. Issue is resolved or a plan is made to address the problem
            2. Cannot facilitate a resolution
              1. Liaison notifies Field Director and SWK Program Chair who consult to develop a plan of action
              2. Student is counseling out of the program
              3. Student is moved to a different field instructor or agency
              4. Student is removed and not permitted to re-enter field until certain conditions are met

Appendix IV: Social Worker Safety Tips 

Work Arrival: 

  • Organize before leaving home 

  • Visually check parking lot when you arrive 

    • Are suspicious vehicles or persons in the lot?
    • Obtain plate number if possible  
  • Vary your parking 
  • Do not park next to van or truck 
  • Do not accept unsolicited offers of assistance 
  • Do not unlock the door to admit stranger 
  • Sound your horn if menacing stranger remains around your vehicle 
  • Cellular phone – call 911 assistance 
  • Be alert and aware of surroundings 
  • Visually check building when arrive 
  • Have key or swipe card ready 
  • Do not converse with strangers 

Plan For The Visit

  • Notify office of destination with the name, address, phone number, time of visit, and reason for the visit 
  • Notify client you are coming and purpose of the visit / meeting 
  • Obtain specific directions 
  • Have a street guide / map in car 
  • Bring cellular phone if available 
  • Call office before entering home 
  • Establish office procedure if you do not call in 
  • Try to conduct home visit in pairs, if possible 
  • Wear clothes and shoes that provide freedom of movement 

Traveling to the Site

  • Do not keep things out in the open in a car 
  • Lock purse / valuables in car prior to leaving for visit 
  • Keep car in working order with at least ½ tank of gas 
  • Drive with doors locked 
  • Park in well-lit, visible area and lock the car doors (do not park in the driveway or directly in front of the house) 
  • Observe the premises for suspicious activity; listen for threatening sounds 
  • Listen to your body language, if you feel unsafe at any time, leave 
  • Do not slam car doors 
  • Do not walk on lawns 
  • Knock and use doorbell 
  • Give eyes a chance to adjust to light (before entering) 
  • Carry as little as possible into home 
  • Return to car with key ready, check front and back seat and floor before getting in 
  • If you are being followed, do not drive home; drive to nearest police or fire station and honk your horn or drive to open gas station or business where you can safely call the police 
  • Do not leave the car unless you can walk into the building safely 
  • If possible, have a cellular phone in your car for emergencies; it may save your life! 
  • Always carry small flashlight with you (in purse or car) 

During the Visit

  • Visually check others present during visit 
  • Assess person’s emotional state 
  • Avoid sitting in the kitchen (many possible weapons; boiling water, knives) 
  • Always wait to be invited to sit 
  • Sit in straight-backed chair (easier to rise from chair in a hurry) 
  • Be aware of all possible exits in the house 
  • If there are dogs in house, ask client to remove them due to your allergies 
  • Ask to turn the T.V. off, as “I” have trouble hearing 
  • Restate the goal of the visit 
  • Maintain a respectful and courteous attitude 
  • Respect the individual’s personal space (maintain an appropriate distance) 
  • Keep a clear path to the door 
  • Avoid positioning self so that you become trapped if needed to make quick exit 
  • If situation escalates, leave
  • Avoid giving out personal information, such as address or phone number 
  • Visually check the surrounding area or parking area when leaving 
  • Always carry car keys in same place where they are readily accessible 

Office Visits

  • Plan an emergency escape route 
  • Beware of how to gain help and to call law enforcement 
  • Know if 911 can be called directly or if other numbers must be called first 
  • Arrange furniture in office to prevent entrapment (sit where you have quickest access to the doorway) 
  • Avoid working alone in office after regular working hours; notify someone you are working late and keep all exterior doors locked 
  • Avoid seeing clients alone after hours 
  • Have co-worker attend meeting when interviewing possibly threatening clients or if you feel your personal safety might be threatened 
  • Keep desk and office clear of objects that could be used as a weapon Avoid giving personal information during interview 
  • Keep your automobile locked at all times 

Defusing Techniques

  • Keep it from escalating; try to stay calm and listen attentively 
  • Avoid sudden movements 
  • Avoid confrontation 
  • Maintain eye contact and personal space 
  • Keep situation in your control 
  • Use calm tone when speaking 
  • Do not argue with person 
  • Signal a co-worker or supervisor that you need help (try not to let angry client see this, as it may escalate situation) 

Information collected from: 

Joe McAnally, Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services; AMRIC Associates Limited, Investigation and Security Consulting; De-Escalating Volatile Situations Seminar presented by Carolyn Mil 

Appendix V: NASW Code of Ethics 

The NASW Code of Ethics is available here.

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