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Student Field Education FAQ

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Field education is a required critical component of your academic program. Social work practice requires integration of knowledge, values, ethics, and skills. The field education experience enables students to apply knowledge from the classroom to real-life practice settings. This enables students to integrate theory and practice and develop into competent, ethical social work practitioners. In addition, the completion of field education is a requirement of the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), the accrediting body for BSSW and MSSW programs.

The Field Coordinator for each campus/program is responsible for facilitating the placement process for each student in that program. Each student works with their Field Coordinator to identify potential placements and to arrange for placement interviews. Depending on the specific program and level of placement, this process may involve submission of planning forms, resumes, meetings with the Field Coordinator, attendance at placement fairs, and completion of one or more placement interviews. The final decision regarding placement assignment is made by the Field Coordinator.

The College of Social Work has developed partnerships with a wide variety of public and private, not-for-profit and for-profit organizations serving diverse client systems throughout Tennessee, in other states, and internationally. Students are able to select from this dynamic list of organizations to arrange for placements in their areas of interest. Although not every student interest can be addressed in every location, the College offers multiple placements in schools, hospitals, state and local government agencies, community organizations, mental health and substance abuse treatment settings, and in the criminal justice system. Placements also provide specialized services to seniors, veterans, immigrants and refugees, the homeless, and persons affected by trauma. Students are able to engage in placements that focus on advocacy, policy practice, program development and evaluation and community organizing. The College maintains a variety of placements that enable students to meet the requirements of certificate programs in Veterinary Social Work,Gerontology, Forensic SW, and Treatment of Trauma.

That will depend on your program of study, but typically 16-24 hours/week over two to three semesters. MSSW generalist students complete 400 hours at their agency, and concentration year students complete 600 hours. Advanced Standing students complete one 600-hour field placement.

The vast majority of placements are available only during regular weekday business hours. CSWE accreditation standards require that students be supervised by someone with a social work degree who meets the requirements to be a Field Instructor. Although there are some organizations that serve clients 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the social work staff usually works during normal daytime business hours. If students can only complete their field placement during evening and weekend hours, they will likely be unable to complete the MSSW program.

The BSSW Junior Placement provides an introduction to professional social work practice in an agency setting. This placement may include more observation and shadowing than practice experience. The BSSW Senior Placement is focused on development of competence in the skills of generalist social work practice. This placement includes observation but requires that students be actively engaged in assessment, intervention, and evaluation of practice at multiple client system levels.

The 400-hour MSSW Generalist placement gives you the opportunity to develop competence in generalist social work practice. This includes assessment, engagement, intervention, evaluation, advocacy, and policy practice at multiple client system levels. The 600-hour MSSW concentration placement is focused on the development of advanced knowledge and skills for practice within your chosen concentration and is a more specialized placement experience. The two concentrations in the MSSW program are: Clinical Practice and Organizational Leadership (OL).

Yes, we strongly encourage agencies to provide stipends. Also, students may be eligible for Employment—Based Placements at social service agencies where they are employed.

Yes, if the agency meets our college’s requirements for an Employment Based Placement (see student

Many field agencies have specific requirements for students to complete criminal background checks, drug screens, physical exams or screenings, submit driving records, etc. Students are required to fulfill the specific requirements of the agency to which they have been assigned. In most cases, students will be financially responsible for these requirements.

All students are responsible for their own transportation to and from the agency. If a student is asked to transport clients as part of their placement, the student should inquire about mileage reimbursement and the student should contact their automobile insurance carrier to clarify whether this risk is covered by the student’s policy.

Students have a team of field faculty to help support them through any problem solving that might be needed in their placement. Students are expected to approach their field placements with openness, flexibility, and commitment to engaging in the learning experience. If the student has concerns about the quality of the learning experience, they should follow the problem-solving steps outlined in the field manual and work with their field instructor, liaison and coordinator throughout this process.