School of Social Work

Introduction for Students Entering Field Work

Field work is a cooperative endeavor involving the University of Southern Maine School of Social Work and local community social service agencies, one in which each component provides the resources necessary to achieve a meaningful experience. As a participant, you must assume an active and responsible role, beginning with planning for field work with one of the field work coordinators, selection of a field work site, and continuing through the professional agency work assignments, termination at the end of your placement, and final evaluation of your learning experience.

Your participation in fieldwork provides you with the opportunity to apply the theories, skills, and processes learned in classes to real life situations. It also allows you to test your interest in working with a particular client population, as well as fostering a stronger personal commitment to the social work profession, its ethics, values, and ideals.

It is important that you keep in mind that this is an educational experience, as opposed to an employment experience, and that your eventual career choice may be significantly different. You can practice your social work skills in any social service setting. Therefore, you may be encouraged to choose a field work placement site that might not seem ideal to you, but will nevertheless expose you to a new client population, agency, or learning opportunity, and ultimately help you to become more well-rounded and competent as a professional. For those of you who live in rural areas, more compromise may be necessary because of limited local resources. Ideally, students approach this experience with flexibility and openness to learning and personal growth.

The process of selecting a placement is a mutual and collaborative one, involving students, field faculty, and the field coordinators. The field coordinators attempt to hear and accommodate the interests and needs of the student whenever possible.

 Field Instructor: The Field Instructor is the social work professional within the placement site (agency) who serves as the supervisor to the student.