What is field education?
Field learning is at the core of social work education. It is in the field where you will integrate theory from the classroom with practice with real clients. As a student, you will learn to practice in a wide range of settings and with diverse populations of individuals, groups, families, and communities.
The UA Little Rock School of Social Work has partnerships with social service agencies across the state of Arkansas where students develop first-rate social work skills. Our field sites offer rich environments for learning with experienced social work practitioners. Fieldwork will immerse you in a wide range of settings – from hospitals, schools, mental health agencies, nursing, and hospice care agencies, and community development organizations, to agencies, working to reintegrate incarcerated individuals, provide resources for immigrants, and offer drug and alcohol treatment. All of these internships have in common a commitment to social and economic justice, which is at the core of School of Social Work learning.
What does field education involve?
BSW students who are in their senior year will complete 16 hours per week (240 per semester) in the field while learning to become a generalist social work practitioner. MSW students in their foundation (first) year will also work 16 hours per week in the field, while concentration (second) year students will complete 24 hours per week (360 per semester).
As a first-year MSW student, you will receive a foundation of social work practice skills to prepare for specialized practice at an advanced level in your second year. It is in the second year that students focus on specific aspects of social work within distinct fields of practice.
Field Education FAQs
- How are internship placements decided?
- In approving field placements, the School puts a priority on educational goals, learning requests, agency location, and transportation concerns. The School of Social Work cannot guarantee a specific placement for anyone, although best efforts will be made to match individual and agency needs.
- What is a typical internship?
- There is no typical internship. The only thing that is consistent across sites is the availability of client systems and social work supervision. Internships are found in all kinds of human and community service settings—mental health centers, hospitals and clinics, domestic violence shelters, prisons, client-advocacy and policy-advocacy organizations, child and family welfare agencies, schools, aging centers, residential facilities, and other settings. Internships are as diverse as the people social workers serve.
- Can I find my own internship?
- No, School policy prohibits students from “shopping” for their own placements as the School of Social Work maintains direct relationships with agencies. The field coordinators will match you with an appropriate agency based on educational and other considerations.
- Are paid internships available?
- Paid field placements are not commonly available, particularly at the BSW level. However, the few paid internships that exist are typically offered in the second year of the MSW program.
- Can I change internship agencies if I do not like the one I am matched to?
- The real concern is not liking your internship, but whether it provides you with appropriate learning experiences that will give you the education you need. However, valid reasons may be considered. But bear in mind that many students will tell you that they had excellent experiences at agencies that they would not have considered before being placed there.
- I, my family member, and/or friend receive(s) services at the agency where I am being placed. Can I complete my internship there?
- No. You may not complete an internship where you or any relative or friend receives services. This would be a conflict and could lead to HIPAA violations. If the field coordinator places you in such an agency it is your responsibility to notify them of the situation.
- What if a problem arises after I am placed in the field agency?
- When any problem happens, talk to your field instructor and try to work out a solution with them. If this is not possible or does not come to a satisfactory conclusion, talk to your field liaison. Most problems in the field are simple miscommunication. Remember that the focus of social work learning is applying problem-solving skills. Keep in mind that you may not terminate a field placement on your own. If going to your field instructor and liaison does not solve a problem, you may then approach the field coordinator.
- May I complete my internship where I work?
- As a general rule students are not placed in agencies in which they are employed. However, students who wish to explore the possibility of using their place of employment as an internship may submit a written request to the Field Coordinator. In order to maximize the student’s learning experiences and ensure work performance, the School recommends that the student will have successfully completed their employment probationary period prior to beginning the internship. Requests are decided on a case-by-case basis by the Coordinator in consultation with the Practice Committee.
Requests are to be written and must include the following:
- A clear delineation between prior work duties and new internship responsibilities. In order to meet learning objectives, duties and responsibilities must be different from those routinely done in the student’s role as an employee with the agency. The volume of responsibilities also must be reduced to reflect the internship as a learning experience rather than an ordinary workload. If the student has a small, narrowly defined work focus the agency must ensure a broader range of experiences.
- Provision of an instructor with an LSW, LMSW, or LCSW license. Exceptions require assessment by the coordinator or a designee.
- If possible, show that the internship site is geographically removed from the regular location of employment duties.
- A clear delineation of the learning tasks/activities for the internship.
- This must be written and submitted to the Field Coordinator as an agreement between the agency director, instructor, and student. Final approval of the worksite internship depends on all the above criteria being met. The faculty liaison monitors the agreed-upon terms and failure to comply with the agreement may result in termination of the internship.
- Who are the field instructors?
- Field instructors are social workers with degrees from accredited schools of social work. They volunteer their time and are not compensated for their work on behalf of the School of Social Work. They want to give back to their profession, and helping to train future social workers is their way of doing it.
- What are the criteria for being allowed to complete my field placement?
- For BSW students, a 2.5 GPA and completion of all prerequisite courses. To advance to the second semester a grade of “B” or better in both the Field Experience and Field Seminar courses is required.
- For MSW students, a GPA of 3.0 is required. Your field placement in your first year of the program is a given. However, successful completion of all courses in your first year is required in order to advance to your second-year internship.
- May I complete my internship by working on nights and weekends?
- Social workers typically work regular business hours in most agencies. Internship hours are completed during weekdays; no evening or weekend hours are available. Please make arrangements before your senior year to complete your internship during regular weekday business hours.
- I have a felony on my record. Will I be able to get an internship?
- Information about felonies must be answered and will be used for planning the internship experience. Although a felony conviction does not preclude admission to the program, we cannot guarantee that the Field Coordinator can place you in an internship if you have been convicted of a felony. Many internship agencies require a background check; therefore, you must answer this question truthfully. Failure to do so may result in your application being denied or expulsion from the program.
- People convicted of certain felony convictions may not be eligible for licensure as a social worker in Arkansas. You must be licensed to practice social work in Arkansas. For more information about licensing regulations see http://www.state.ar.us/swlb
- What is the difference between an MSW foundation and concentration internship?
- The foundation internship is the grounding for core social work knowledge, values, and skills where you learn to engage, assess, plan, intervene, evaluate, and terminate at all systems levels (individuals, families, groups, communities, and organizations). The concentration internship takes you more in-depth with different systems levels—advanced direct practice for those who want to concentrate in working with individuals, groups, and families and management and community practice for those who want to work with communities and organizations.
- What is the difference between MSW advanced-standing and regular internships?
- The advanced standing internship is offered only during the summer and is a total of 240 practice hours. It is a compressed version of the regular foundation year internship, but it is for advanced standing students only.
HAVE QUESTIONS? ASK AN ADVISOR.
We’re always happy to answer any questions you might have about our available programs. Use the form below to submit your inquiries to the School of Social Work advisors or call us at 501-916-3240.