3.4 Second Year Specialized Field Practicum and Integration Seminar

Second Year Field Placement

Second-year field education in the Social Welfare MSW Programis differentiated by area of specialization (i.e. Advancing Health and Well-Being across the Adult Life Span; Strengthening Children, Youth, and Families; and Strengthening Organizations and Communities). The second year placement is designed to introduce students to advanced or specialized practice settings that focus on specific methods (direct practice or management and planning practice) and age-based populations (children and families or adults/older adults) that correspond to the specialization areas offered in the Social Welfare MSW Program. Access to a wider range of more complex practice opportunities is typically made available to in the specialized field practicum.

Social Welfare MSW students are required to complete a total of 720 hours of specialized field practicum in the second year (combination of SOC WEL 412A in fall and SOC WEL 412B in spring). In order to progress to second-year specialized field education, students must have successfully completed all first year field education requirements, all required generalist practice curriculum requirements, and must be in good academic standing. 

Second Year Field Placement Schedule

Second year field practicum days are generally Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays beginning in the first week of September and continuing until early May. Standard days are eight hours in length and do not include time for lunch or other breaks. Students and their agency-based Field Instructors work together to finalize the student’s schedule. In some instances, students may arrange to attend placement on other days or at other times as long as they can take all required courses and recommended electives. Additionally, some placements require students to begin before the semester begins or to continue on after the semester ends. In these instances, the relationship between the student and agency is voluntary and not subject to university requirements, policies, or protections although both parties are encouraged to continue to act ethically. For more information please see Section 5: Field Placement Time Requirements and Attendance Policies.

Second Year Field Placement Activities, Tasks and Projects

Field Instructors collaborate with their students to develop and implement a Competency-Based Learning Agreement specifying the assigned field learning tasks, activities and projects that are intended to help students develop and demonstrate identified generalist social work practice competencies. The learning agreement provides the basis for periodic evaluations of student work. Field Consultants typically visit agencies in the fall or winter to review the learning agreements with students and Field Instructors.

Modes of practice can vary widely in these settings depending upon area of specialization.  They generally involve, however, more in-depth and advanced tasks which can include advanced clinical interviewing and assessment; specialized clinical case management or psychotherapy; advanced documentation and report-writing or significant responsibility for meeting management; program planning, coordination, and evaluation; advocacy; policy analysis; development; or other executive functions. Direct practice students are allowed to spend time engaged in management and planning practice, and macro practice students are allowed to spend time engaged in clinical practice depending upon approval of their Field Consultant and the agency’s ability to accommodate their learning needs. Students may petition their Field Consultant for an exemption to expand the time that they may spend learning the other method. Decisions will be made based upon evidence that the student already possesses advanced experience in their area of specialization; the student’s overall career goals; and the availability of appropriate, specialized field practicum assignments.

MSW students in specialized field placement continue to attend to the nine practice competencies established for field education. Behavioral anchors for the competency scale, however, are adjusted to reflect specific knowledge and skills that are to be demonstrated for the student’s area of specialization. These extended and enhanced competencies continue to guide task assignment, field instruction, and evaluation in the second year of field education.

Second Year Field Seminar

In the second year MSW students are encouraged to take advanced electives, both in the School of Social Welfare and in other university departments, that inform their approach to field placement duties, tasks, and identified competencies. They are also frequently provided with more extensive on-site learning support and opportunities, including seminars, group supervision or extra individual supervision, training, and consultation.

The specialization field integration seminar builds upon the generalist foundation and facilitates the development of holistic competence in areas of specialized practice. The Council on Social Work Education views holistic competence as the organizing construct for professional education. In response to unique practice situations, social workers must use “cognitive and affective processes” including self-regulation and critical thinking to select and integrate the most pertinent values, knowledge and skills as they make professional judgments and act. As social workers learn to do this consistently well across varied contexts and situations, they develop holistic competence.