What is Field Education?
Field education is one of the seven foundational pieces of social work education (Council on Social Work Education). It is essential to the training of professional social workers. At Murray State University, field education serves as the capstone course that seeks to help students integrate and externalize the entire academic curriculum as they practice as student interns. Using a block placement style, senior social work students take a 12 credit hour course (SWK 499) in which they serve as interns in a social service agency under the supervision of a licensed social worker. The student is able to practice their social work skills through an agency by providing direct service to clients. A co-requite is a Field Seminar that periodically meets on campus throughout the semester.
When do I take Field Education?
A student signs up for Field Education during his or her last semester with the approval of the Field Education Director. A prerequisite for Field Education is SWK 498 – Senior Seminar. The field placement is set up during the SWK 498 experience. Placements are only available during spring and fall semesters.
Who sets up my Field Placement?
Field placements are arranged by the Field Education Director in conjunction with the social work student. Since field placements are 500 hours (32 hours per week average) and are worth 12 credit hours, the field director works with students to find a placement that is of interest to the student. The Field Education Director works with the student to identify two possible field agencies and sets up interviews to assist the student in finding a “good fit."
Is there a cost to Field Education?
While there is no course fee attached to Field, each student must secure professional liability insurance before beginning placement. The program works with students to secure this insurance through the NASW Insurance Trust for the lowest fee available.
Can I work and do Field at the same time?
The faculty is aware that many students must work to support themselves and/or family members. Since it requires as average of 32 hours per week for students to finish their practicum in one semester, it is important to work closely with the Field Education Director regarding your needs. How does an agency participate in field education?
The Council on Social Work Education suggests agencies with staff positions that can be filled by BSW graduates and that provide a licensed social worker (BSW or MSW) to serve as the field instructor. The Field Education Director recruits and trains prospective agencies and field instructors. Are there academic requirements associated with Field Education?
Yes. Each student involved in Field Education will attend approximately seven seminars during the semester of their internship. These seminars are held on campus and are scheduled prior to the start of the semester. Each student is required to keep a journal during the semester and turn in weekly time sheets with journal entries. Each student must turn in a written assessment of client needs and must produce a research paper related to their area of practice in field. Can I be paid for my internship?
While there are no restrictions regarding paid internships, very few opportunities exist in the social work field. CSWE requires that a student can only be paid to do work in an area where they have not previously worked for pay. You will need to talk to the Field Education Director about possible paid internships.