Field Frequently Asked Questions
What is a field education? Why is field education so important in social work?
Field Education is considered the signature pedagogy of social work. The Council on Social Work Education says, “Signature pedagogies are elements of instruction and of socialization that teach future practitioners the fundamental dimensions of professional work in the discipline – to think, to perform, and to act ethically and with integrity (2015).” Field education at the University of Maine School of Social Work provides students with an opportunity to assimilate, integrate, apply, and connect conceptual knowledge, theories and constructs that they have learned in the classroom to generalist and advanced generalist social work practice in the field. The goal of field education is to provide opportunities for students to demonstrate the Core Competencies and behaviors in a social work agency under the supervision of an experienced social worker.
What can I expect during a field practicum?
Field practicum experiences vary widely as there are many different types of social work and social work agencies. All field practicum are arranged in agencies that support the values and mission of social work practice and meet accepted practice standards for the type of setting. Each field placement provides students a range of activities appropriate to the student’s level of social work practice. Students are assigned a Field Instructor by the agency. A Field Instructor is a professional social worker who meets the criteria outlined by the School of Social Work, and provides the student direct instruction, social work supervision, and evaluation and feedback on the student’s progress. Students also attend a required field seminar class concurrently during their field practicum. A Field Seminar is an academic, credit bearing class and included in the student’s plan of study.
How many field practicum do I complete? How many hours are required?
All 2-Year Campus, 4-year Campus, and 3-Year Online-Blended MSW students complete two field practicia, for a total minimum of 900 hours. The Generalist Field Practicum is a minimum of 400 hours completed over two semesters (approximately 14-16 hours per week). The Specialization Field Practicum is a minimum of 500 hours, completed over two semesters (approximately 18-20 hours per week ) or as intensive, full-time experience in one additional summer semester at the end of their program of study (approximately 38-40 hours per week).
Students with a BSW degree matriculated as Advanced Standing Students to any MSW program must demonstrate the successful completion of a minimum of 400 hours of field education in their BSW program. Advanced standing students then complete the Specialization Field Practicum for a minimum of 500 hours over two semesters (approximately 18-20 hours per week ) or as intensive, full-time experience in one additional summer semester at the end of their program of study (approximately 38-40 hours per week).
BSW students complete the BSW Generalist Field Practicum in their senior year. The BSW Generalist Field practicum is a minimum of 400 hours over two semesters (approximately 14-16 hours per week).
How do I obtain a field practicum? What choices do I have?
All students must complete an application to enter the field practicum sequence. Next, students meet individually with a Field Coordinator from the School of Social Work field team to assess their readiness to enter a field practicum and to determine their individual learning needs. A field agency will be identified and determined by the Field Coordinator in collaboration with the student. The Field Coordinator reaches out to the agency. Students should plan to complete a successful interview with an agency and any screening process required by the agency before the practicum is confirmed. Every effort is made to place students in agencies convenient to their home communities, although this is not always possible. The Field Team makes all final placement decisions and assignments.
If I work full time, am I able to complete a field practicum during the evening or on the weekend?
Most field practicum are available during traditional Monday – Friday business hours. While there may be some opportunities to complete work during the evenings or on the weekends during the field practicum, the School of Social Work is not able to guarantee that a practicum can be secured during non-business hours.
What about COVID -19? Are there fully remote field practicums available?
In-person field practicum experiences are the standard in social work education. The School of of Social Work has worked with all agencies and students to ensure any in-person field experience follows all University of Maine, State of Maine CDC and Agency Guidance to maximize safety. During the COVID-19 pandemic there have been some opportunities to complete field practicum entirely remotely or through use of technology to accommodate the health and safety needs of the students, clients, and agency staff. It is not expected that this will continue to be the practice post COVID-19 pandemic. Please contact the field department for the most current COVID-19 information.
May I waive a practicum or receive credit for my work or life experience?
The Council on Social Work Education does not allow schools of social work to waive a field practicum or give credit for current or previous employment or life experiences.
Am I able to complete my practicum at an agency where I work?
Under special circumstances, a student may engage in a field practicum at the same agency as the work site, providing that the field instructor is different from the work supervisor and that the field placement activities are distinct from tasks performed as a part of the student’s employment. Furthermore, students must demonstrate the employment-based setting provides opportunities for the student to engage as a learner and fulfill field education requirements.
May I complete my field practicum early by working more hours or take my field practicum at different times then listed in the program of study for my program?
Students may always complete more hours than the minimum required, however they must be in the field practicum during the entirety of the academic semester or semesters. Field practicum are not able to be taken out of sequence of the student’s program of study.
Will I be paid for my field practicum?
In recognition of the financial difficulties that students may encounter, the School of Social Work will consider stipend placements when possible and available. Stipend field practicum are funded by agencies or specific grant opportunities and can vary widely from year to year. Field Practicum must be structured so that the student is receiving a stipend, but is not being paid for service delivery. The payment of a stipend must in no way place employment expectations or requirements that result from the remuneration on the student.
Who should I contact if I have more questions?