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MSW Field Education FAQs

Overview | Foundation | Concentration | Syllabi | Agencies | Forms & Resources | FAQs | MSW International Field Placement | MSW Field Manual 2016-2017 | MSW Field Manual 2017-2018

What is the process to obtain a field placement? What does the Office of Field Education do with my placement request materials?

There are two separate processes for field placement; one for the foundation and one for the concentration. Details about these processes can be found in the field manual. The field faculty will meet with students at appropriate times to further discuss and share information about the placement process, review the application, and provide deadlines.

Can I ensure that I get my first placement choice?

Slot availability changes rapidly. Slots open and close throughout any given week due to changes in agencies. Foundation students are assigned by field faculty in agencies that provide generalist practice with little input from students. For concentration practicum, the Field Office makes every effort to place students in their preferred agencies, but cannot make guarantees because of the rapidly changing human service environment. In both cases the goal is to achieve "a goodness of fit" with the match.

What if I don’t have a car?

Healthcare, mental health, family services are increasingly community based. Therefore, many placements require students to have a car to perform field assignments that involve outreach, home visits, and community work. A significant number of placements are located outside the Athens area, so it is to the student’s advantage to have a vehicle, or be prepared to car pool with other students, for travel to and from the agency. Unfortunately, not having a car severely limits field placement options. Students without cars may have to compromise their interests to be accommodated locally or near their homes. Many local agencies, however, also require the use of a vehicle.

Can I have a placement in the town where I live in Georgia?

It may be possible for students to be placed for the concentration placement near their homes in Georgia, depending upon the availability of placement opportunities that have been, or could be approved by the Field Office. Please keep in mind that students still need to attend classes in Athens (full-time students) or Gwinnett (extended-time students).

Can I do field work at my current place of employment?

Students interested in worksite practica should submit an application to the Field Director describing the agency and program where they work, their current position and duties, work schedule, and name and title of supervisor. The request also includes a description of the proposed field work program, assignments, field instructor, and placement schedule. The request should be signed by the student, and the current and proposed supervisors. Submitting this does not guarantee approval of the request. All requests are considered on an individual basis. For more details about employment-based placement see the section "Worksite Practicum" in this manual. Academic credit cannot be given for previous work experience.

I need to work while enrolled in School. How much time should I reserve for field work each term?

The foundation practicum is 16 hours per week for one semester (fall for extended-time students, spring for full-time M.S.W. students) for a total of 240 hours. The concentration practicum requires 24 hours a week for the entire academic year for a total of 720 hours. Students must be prepared to meet these requirements. The field office will attempt to work with students to complement their work requirements, but, in no way will the educational objectives of the practicum experience be compromised.

Can my placement be arranged for evening and/or weekend hours?

Students need to be in placement during normal agency business hours for a minimum of 16 hours per week, (concentration) and 10 hours per week (foundation) and during times when their field instructor is also on duty and available to the student. These conditions do not usually allow students to do the entire placement during evenings or weekends.

What is the difference between an academic advisor, a faculty liaison, and a field instructor?

An academic advisor is a member of the School of Social Work faculty who advises students on academic matters, which typically include course planning and registration. A faculty liaison is assigned to each agency where a student is placed. The liaison is typically a member of the faculty, an adjunct faculty member, or teaching assistant who monitors and grades the student’s field work performance. The liaison also serves as an advocate for the student at the agency and helps to mediate placement-related problems, including those that may occur between the student and the field instructor. A field instructor is an agency staff member, typically an M.S.W., who supervises and evaluates students.

Can I be placed in two different agencies?

Foundation students will be placed in one agency for one semester. Concentration students will generally be placed in a different agency than their foundation placement, for the entire academic year. In unique circumstances, students may remain at the same agency for both years if the educational/learning opportunities are different and the agency meets the requirements for advanced practice field placement. These cases are reviewed on an individual basis by the Director of Field Education.

Who is my liaison? Who is the liaison to my agency?

Liaisons for foundation practica are the faculty assigned to teach the concurrent seminar for the foundation course. Liaisons for concentration practica are usually assigned during the summer. Liaisons are typically self-selected to agencies based on their scholarly interests and other preferences. Though continuity is maintained as much as possible, liaison assignments may change when faculty are on prolonged leave for special reasons or have other academic commitments.

What if my agency is not what I expected or is not meeting my learning goals?

Once you have started field work, you should discuss any placement-related issues with your liaison. Any decisions about whether or not a student should terminate field work at an agency and be re-assigned to another agency must be made by the liaison, the field instructor, and the student in consultation with the Field Director. If a change of placement is required, a "Change of Placement" form must be completed, and signed by the student, the field instructor, and the liaison. Once the Field Office receives this completed form, other placement options can be explored. For more details see the section titled "Terminating a Field Placement" in the Field Instruction Manual.

What agencies offer stipends to students?

While the Field Program strongly encourages agencies to offer stipends, the agencies that do so vary and the decision is entirely up to the agency. Stipend amounts also vary, but are usually quite small. Sometimes agencies offer stipends depending upon the amount of time the student can give to the agency, or to make the placement more attractive to students. Agencies may receive grants that allow the agency to give the student a small amount of funds. There are some specialized grants such as the child welfare grant that have specific stipulations. Students can discuss stipend availability at their placement interviews or with the Field Office.

Do agencies hire students when they graduate? Which ones?

Occasionally students will obtain employment with field instruction agencies following graduation. There is no evident pattern of which agencies hire students after they graduate. Employment services are provided by the UGA Career Planning and Placement Office and there are employment opportunities posted on information boards in the School of Social Work building.

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