Frequently Asked Questions about MSW Field Placement
Why do I have to do Field Placement since I have years of social work experience?
The Eastern Michigan University School of Social Work is accredited by the Council of Social Work Education (CSWE). CSWE does not allow programs to give credit for work experience. Although we cannot exempt you from the field requirements, we take your experience into account when we set up your placement. After reviewing your resume and educational interests as stated on your field application, we arrange a placement that fills the gaps in your experience or takes you to the next level of professional expertise. Every placement is individually reviewed and negotiated, based on our respect for your years in the field and your knowledge and skills. We allow you to do work site or non-work site placements, as long as all placement requirements are met.
How should I decide whether I want to do a work site placement?
Work site placements are placements in agencies in which the student is employed; they have strengths and limitations.
Strengths: Work site placements can be creative opportunities for you to try something new in the context of your agency. Your knowledge of organizational structure and your relationships with a possible mentor may allow you to have access to opportunities that a student coming from outside the agency would not have. You may have a person within the agency who can act as a mentor and advocate for your educational opportunities. You may be able to “hit the ground running” when you start the placement because of your familiarity with the agency and its personnel. You may be able to negotiate to be paid for some or all of the time when you are released from your work to work on your internship. You (probably) will not incur additional travel time to another agency. (In some cases your work site placement will be at a site that is geographically different than your job.)
Limitations: It can be difficult to separate your student role from work role. While you may know the times that you are in a meeting or getting an opportunity that is part of your field placement, colleagues and clients may be trying to involve you in your on-going workload. Sometimes it is difficult to negotiate “new learning,” since you may have worked in several areas of the agency. Obtaining M.S.W supervision from a person who is not your work supervisor may be a challenge in smaller agencies. Finally, questions or concerns about your placement that can be raised by a student from outside the agency may not be as easy for you to raise since your internship relationships could affect your job.
May I do both my Foundation and my Advanced field placements at my work site?
Yes, it is possible to apply to do both placements at your work site, if you are able to meet all the conditions for work site placements, as well as those for Foundation and Advanced Field Placement. At the Advanced level, the agency’s primary focus must match your concentration. Of course, the duties must vary by the level of the placement. You however may use the same M.S.W field supervisor if all the conditions for that level are met.
If I am only going to do one work site placement, which one should it be?
This depends on the type of agency in which you are working and your own opportunities for getting time off, e.g. educational leave, use of vacation, flex-time. The Foundation Placement has the most flexibility since it is a generalist placement and does not have to match your concentration. The Field Director and Coordinator review your resume to help tailor a placement that will round to your experiences as a generalist practitioner. This placement requires 16 hours a week in the field. In the Advanced Placement, the agency must match the concentration, and the experiences have to be at an advanced professional level. They must be a combination of experience at any level of the system within your concentration, e.g., direct intervention, groups, administration; but they cannot duplicate your foundation placement. If your agency does not match your concentration, you should choose to do the Foundation placement there, since you will have to go outside for your Advanced year. In your Advanced Placement, you will do 16 hours a week in placement. This is determined by whether you are receiving time off your regular full-time employment for field. Sometimes your employer will give you a day to do placement, leaving you only four hours of additional time to be made up at night or on the weekend. In these cases, an Advanced Placement at the work site may make the most sense.
What are the advantages of a non-work site placement?
Non-work site placements have strengths and limitations that are unique to our students.
Strengths: Entering a new agency can provide an additional organizational perspective to students who may have been in the field for a number of years in the same agency. Non-work site placements can challenge the frameworks in which we have operated and provide exciting new opportunities. The student relationship may be more clearly defined in a non-work site placement, and the student may feel more capable of questioning the agency’s policies and operations since there is not the long-term vested interest in one’s job. The student who has daytime hours available can be matched to the agency that has programs that meet the student’s educational goals.
Limitations: Orientation to the agency and its programs may take longer than with a work site placement. If the student has limited daytime hours available, supervision, opportunities for attending staff meetings, and integration into the agency as a whole may be more difficult than in a work site placement. Even if the agency is a 24-hour/7 day a week agency, it any not have supervision and professional level activities in the evenings and weekends. The student may incur additional travel time getting to and from the field agency.
May I do both Foundation and Advanced Placement in a non-work site placement?
Yes, both placements may be in non-work site agencies. This works best when you have daytime hours available for placement, since the professional work of the agency must be conducted during the hours you are in placement (versus something like residential care).
May I do two non-work site placements in the same agency?
Yes, you any request that the field Office try to arrange this. However, all conditions to differentiate the levels of placement must be met, just as with second work site placements.
May I arrange my own non-work site placement?
No, the Field Office arranges the placements. You however may request that the Field Office consider certain types of agencies, geographical preferences, and learning goals. However, the Field Director and/or Coordinator will make the final decisions regarding all field placements. Remember, all placements must be made through the Field Office with the administrators of the agencies, with affiliation agreements, and other conditions being in place. The placement is actually with the agency, not with the supervisor.
Do I have to attend a class along with the placement?
Yes, each placement has a concurrent integrative seminar that is required. The faculty member who teaches the weekly seminar is the faculty liaison to the agency. Once you are in placement, the liaison will visit the placement once per semester and will be responsible for your evaluation and grade in the course. The seminar will have assignments that are related to the field placements.
How will I know what I have to do in the placement?
There is an MSW Field Manual that you will download from this site as part of the field course requirements. It lays out the field policies for you and the field supervisor. You will develop a learning contract with your field supervisor and faculty liaison’s approval. This will detail your assignments and help you to track your learning. In addition, you will keep a log signed by your field supervisor that tracks the hours you are in field. This will be monitored by your faculty field liaison in the seminar class.
Additional questions about the Field Program may be directed to: MSWField@emich.edu .