Mary Kay Brennan, MSW
Potential agency practicum sites complete a Seattle University Social Work Field Program application. They must have an identified staff person who will be the Practicum Instructor. This person must have either a BSW or MSW, have been employed by the agency and have been employed in as a professional social worker for a minimum of 2-years post attainment of degree.
The Field Director will review the completed application and make a site visit usually in the fall and early winter. All applications received after February will be held and contact will be made for site visits later in the year, for possible student placement the following year.
How many hours and what days are students in the field placement?A student is in their field placement for 15 hours each academic week for a total of 150 hours per quarter and 450 hours per academic school year. Students are generally at their field placements on Mondays and Wednesdays.
Are there evening or weekend placements?Most of the placements are during regular agency hours, weekdays, between 8:00am to 5:00pm. Occasionally, especially in agencies that provide residential treatment, a student may be asked to flex their time to accommodate late afternoon or evening practicum hours. If this is the case, the agency assures that there is a PI or Task Supervisor available to work with the student during those hours.
What is the process for assignment to a field agency?The placement process begins in winter quarter of the student’s junior year and is collaborative between the Field Director and the student. There will be opportunities provided to the students to learn about the various populations and agencies. The students complete the Field Application and have a placement interview with the Field Director. The Field Director will make the final agency assignment. The matching process considers the students’ interests and experience as well as the needs of the agencies. The students will also interview with the prospective agency prior to the match being finalized.
How important is the interview with an agency prior to placement?All students complete an interview with the Practicum Instructor from their assigned agency and present a resume. The purpose of this interview is to give both the student and the Practicum Instructor an opportunity to ask questions about the workload, client population, mission of the agency, expectations and to explore if the agency and PI seems to be a good fit for the student. Both the student and the PI will notify the Field Director as they accept or deny the placement.
What if I decide I do not like the agency, or am denied placement by the agency?Should this arise, the Field Director will work with the student to find another agency placement.
Are there paid field placements?Paid field placements are rare. Work-study may be available if a student is made eligible by Seattle University and the agency will provide a work-study opportunity.
Can I do my placement during the summer?This is not currently an option.
Will I need a car?Each placement is individual and Seattle has a good bus public transportation system. Many of our agencies are in close proximity to our campus. However there are placements where students see their clients at off-agency sites and the use of a car may be required. Students are not allowed to drive clients in their personal cars.
Do I need inoculations or additional orientations for field work?There are sites that require students to have and present verification of inoculations or attend additional trainings/ orientations. The student is responsible for acquiring and providing all required information and attend trainings as requested. It is the agency’s responsibility to inform the student of additional requirements and the student is responsible to complete these necessary requirements.
Can a placement be in an agency a student is employed?We prefer a student not do their practicum with an agency they are employed at. Our goal is for the student to benefit from learning to work with a diversity of populations and needs. However, occasionally, an agency can provide a much different learning situation and supervision for a student that completely differs from the student’s regular employment tasks, responsibilities and supervisor. If so proposed, the Field Director will determine the suitability of employment-based practicum.
How safe will is the student in the practicum agency?Social work is a career where there is an inherent risk for assault and violence. We have asked all agencies to adopt policies and procedures to enhance the safety and minimize the risk to practicum students. We also require agencies to provide interns with safety training consistent with their agency and client population. We request that clients not be assigned to a student who will jeopardize a student’s health or safety and the student will be told of any potential risk they might encounter in any specific situation. The student will not be sole agency person that makes critical decisions about a client or patient, especially where there are physical or legal implications.
Does Seattle University provide health and accident insurance for students participating in field placements?No. Seattle University does not provide these insurance benefits. In addition, students must sign the “Field Practicum Agreement, Risk Acknowledgement, and Release” form at the beginning of their placement. This form can be found in the Field Manual.
Is the field practicum graded?There are quarterly evaluations that must be completed by the student and the Practicum Instructor that describe and rate the student’s progress. This is used as a learning tool and to asses the student’s grade which is “Credit/ Fail”.
Will the field practicum evaluations be used for any purpose other then as an internal learning tool?Our Program uses these evalutions only as a learning tool and for grading purpose. There are MSW graduate programs that request a copy of students’ final evaluation from the practicum.
Is there a Field Education Manual Yes. All students must buy a hard copy of the comprehensive field education manual prior to the first day of their senior year and the beginning of the field experience. This manual has all field education information, policies and procedures, objectives and forms. Practicum instructors also receive a copy of this manual. This manual is also on our web site.
Are there International Placements?Many of our students are interested in international social work. We encourage students to participate in study abroad programs as it fits into their schedules. However, at this time we do not have a formal program to allow students to complete their practicums internationally. We do work with many agencies who work locally but with global populations and concerns. If a student wishes to study abroad, contact should be made with the Study Abroad Office.
It has been my distinct pleasure to have partnered with the Seattle University Social Work Program Field Placement Office for the past 8 years. Their BSW students consistently demonstrate a dedication to social justice and a commitment to education that has made teaching them about the profession a joy and an honor for our Social Work team. The Jesuit mission and the mission of Harborview are also closely aligned, which has made our relationship that much more meaningful to all.