Skip to Main Content

Frequently Asked Questions for Students

What is the purpose of field education?

Field education is an integral part of both the School of Social Work BSW and MSW curricula. While classroom learning focuses on discrete knowledge and theoretical background, the field curriculum exposes students to a wide range of problems and possibilities. It teaches students to assess these situations and to develop, implement, and evaluate social interventions for actual persons, families, groups, organizations, and communities.

What is the purpose of field seminar class and why do I need to take it?

BSW: Senior Seminar is closely linked to Social Work Field Practicum. The purpose of this course is to facilitate and encourage students’ development as entry-level practitioners through the integration of social work theory, practice, and values. Assignments in Senior Seminar are related to the field experience and the thinking, feeling, and doing of social work practice.

Students are expected to apply knowledge, skills, values, and ethics learned in their academic courses to the practice experiences afforded them in the field agency. The student learning agreement and evaluation tool are used by students, Agency Field Instructors and the Faculty Field Liaison to evaluate student’s progress toward developing professional practice behaviors and competencies.

MSW Foundation: Foundation Practicum Seminar is closely linked to Foundation Field Work. The purpose of the Seminar course is to facilitate and encourage students’ development as advanced-level practitioners through the integration of social work theory, practice, and values and the development of social work competencies and practice behaviors. Assignments in Foundation Practicum Seminar are related to the field experience and the thinking, feeling, and doing of social work practice.

MSW Advanced: Advanced Field Practicum Seminar is closely linked to Advanced Field Practicum. The purpose of the Seminar course is to facilitate and encourage students’ development as advanced-level practitioners through the integration of social work theory, practice, and values and the development of social work competencies and practice behaviors. Assignments in Advanced Practicum Seminar are related to the field experience and the thinking, feeling, and doing of social work practice.

How many credits do students receive for field and how many hours are required?

BSW: Field Practicum is organized into two academic courses: SOCWRK 480 (Social Work Field Practicum I), taken in the fall semester of a student’s senior year, and SOCWRK 481 (Social Work Field Practicum II), taken spring semester. Each practicum course accounts for 5 credit hours.

Senior Seminar is organized into two academic courses: SOCWRK 498 (Senior Seminar I), and SOCWRK 499 (Senior Seminar II) for 1 credit hour each. These classes are co-requisites with Field Work I-II, respectively.

MSW Foundation: Students in the first year of the 2-year MSW program are expected to complete 400 clock hours in field, approximately 16 hours per week over two semesters. Students in the Foundation program begin fieldwork after they have completed their initial five weeks of classroom learning. Students are expected to complete 160 field hours during fall semester (16 hours per week for 10 weeks) and 240 hours (16 hours per week for 15 weeks) during spring semester. Each Foundation Field Work course accounts for 2 credit hours.

Foundation Practicum Seminar is organized into two academic courses: SOCWRK 573 (Foundation Practicum Seminar I), taken in the fall semester of student’s foundation year, and SOCWRK 574 (Foundation Practicum Seminar II), taken during spring semester. These classes account for 1 credit hour each.  

MSW Advanced: MSW Advanced students are expected to complete 600 field hours over the course of two semesters, approximately 20 hours per week. Advanced Social Work Practicum I and II are 6-credit courses.

Advanced Practicum Seminar is organized into two academic courses: SOCWRK 577 (Advanced Practicum Seminar I), taken in the fall semester of student’s advanced year, and SOCWRK 578 (Advanced Practicum Seminar II), taken during spring semester. These classes are co-requisites with Advanced Field Practicum I-II, respectively. These classes account for 1 credit hour each.

Can I work with my practicum agency more hours in some weeks and less hours in other weeks to fit within my study or work schedule(s)?

The number of hours established for the field practicum hours are set to maintain the integrity of the field practicum experience and to ensure appropriate supervision of the students. Students and agencies should work within the suggested hours as much as possible. Occasionally, there are situations when an agency may have a special program or campaign that requires the student to participate during weekend or evening hours. These hours should be incorporated into the total required weekly hours during the given semester.

I work 5-6 days a week during daytime hours, can I do my placement in the evenings and on weekends?

The goal of the field experience is for the students to gain a full day of training with appropriate supervision as designated by the Field Manual. While there will be occasions where students will be asked to assist with projects at their field practicum agency that occur in 2-4 hour blocks of time on weekends or during the evening, the majority of the field work should occur in 6-8 hour time periods during a regular business day. This helps the student balance academic goals as well as the goals of the field practicum.

What if I’m having trouble completing my hours?

If the agency is having trouble finding enough work for the student, the Faculty Field Liaison should be made aware of the agency’s inability to provide learning experiences immediately so the problem can be resolved as soon as possible.  Temporary or permanent relocation of the field placement may be necessary in extreme cases.

If the student is unable to complete hours because of personal matters, the Agency Field Instructor should be made aware of this situation right away to determine if hours can be made up during the semester.  If the agency feels the student’s absence(s) interferes with the learning experience or case load, the Faculty Field Liaison should be notified immediately to further discuss the circumstances.

If students are unable to be at their field agency as scheduled for any reason, it is essential that the student discuss this with their Agency Field Instructor and Faculty Field Liaison. Hours missed must be made up to ensure students complete the total number of hours required each semester. Extensions may be considered in extenuating circumstances, but must be approved by Faculty Field Liaison and by the Director of Field Education.

Can I do extra hours over the holiday or vacation breaks?

Typically, this is not encouraged.  We want students to enjoy holidays and breaks, and to take time to rest and spend time with family and/or friends.  There may be agencies where the nature of the practicum requires work during a holiday or vacation break.  These situations must be discussed with your Faculty Field Liaison as soon as the student is made aware of such a schedule.

As a general rule students are not expected to do field work during Boise State University holiday breaks or during the summer months. Boise State observes the following holidays:

  • Labor Day
  • Thanksgiving week
  • Winter break (mid-December through mid-January)
  • Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. / Human Rights Day
  • President’s Day
  • Spring break

There are rare exceptions where a student may need to be in field during holiday breaks in order to catch up on hours or to provide the agency with minimal support to maintain continuity of care for clients to whom students are assigned. If a student or Agency Field Instructor believes it is important for a student to be in field during a holiday break, the student must speak with their Faculty Field Liaison for approval. It is the responsibility of the Faculty Field Liaison to be available to students who are approved to work on holidays or during Boise State University breaks.

If students do work over holiday breaks, extra hours should be prorated over the following semester and not “banked” in order to finish practicum early. Agencies depend on students to be there for the duration of the school year and leaving a field placement early due to having hours “banked” is discouraged.

What is the IPT program?

The Boise State University School of Social Work field program maintains a web-based database and software program called “Intern Placement Tracking,” commonly referred to as “IPT.” Students and Agency Field Instructors will receive login information and training on IPT during their orientation. In addition to training offered at orientation, tutorials and a help section are available within the IPT program. Students and Agency Field Instructors are welcome to contact Field Program staff should they have questions or difficulties with IPT.

IPT is used:

  • To house forms used to track and monitor student learning and progress in their Field Practicum (Learning Agreements, Time Sheets, Evaluation Forms).
  • To facilitate record sharing and communication between student, Agency Field Instructor, Faculty Field Liaison, and Field Program staff.
  • To house contact and descriptive information on agencies in the area that provide fieldwork opportunities for students.

What is the learning agreement?

As part of Field Practicum students are expected to work collaboratively with their Agency Field Instructor to develop a competency based, behaviorally specific, learning agreement based on their level in the social work program (BSW, MSW Foundation, MSW Advanced). The learning agreement promotes adult learning and is the blueprint for integration of social work values, knowledge, and skills into professional practice.

The Boise State School of Social Work provides Learning Agreement templates for each level of learning (BSW, MSW Foundation, and MSW Advanced). Learning agreements outline the specific knowledge, values, and skills students are expected to develop over the course of their Field Practicum. Students and Agency Field Instructors should discuss specific learning opportunities, tasks, and assignments available to the student in the agency and document these in the learning agreement by the end of the third week of the practicum. Learning agreements will be reviewed by Faculty Field Liaisons to ensure appropriateness, mutual understanding, and expected outcomes.

It is recommended that students and Agency Field Instructors regularly review the Learning Agreement as part of their weekly supervision meetings. Agency Field Instructors are encouraged to monitor student progress toward learning goals and to provide constructive feedback to support student learning and professional growth.

How is the field practicum grade determined?

At the end of each semester, students and Agency Field Instructors must complete an evaluation of the student’s progress toward the development of professional competencies and practice behaviors. Examples of the evaluation tools are provided in the Appendix of the student Field Manual. Evaluations will be reviewed and discussed with the Faculty Field Liaison during site visits conducted at the end of the first semester and the end of the year. The Faculty Field Liaison issues the final grade of pass/fail for field.

What types of agencies are selected as field sites?

We are fortunate to have a wide range of cooperating agencies throughout Idaho. Each year more than 240 students are placed in a variety of agencies and programs.  Placement sites represent the broad scope of social work practice in public and private, not-for-profit, and for-profit agencies. Typical practicum sites include Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, community providers of mental health services, substance abuse agencies, medical facilities such as hospitals and hospices, domestic violence agencies, homeless shelters and public schools. Students are also placed in agencies involved in program and policy development, advocacy, statewide planning, private non-profit agencies, family resource centers, among others.

What are the steps for securing a field practicum placement?

Students are expected to follow the field placement process detailed on Page 12 of the Field Manual to secure a field placement. Students do not develop their own placements. All field placements must be approved by the Director of Field Education to ensure they meet the requirements of the program. Boise State University School of Social Work cannot guarantee that all students will secure a placement. If students are not able to successfully secure a placement by the 5th week in the semester, they may be required to withdraw from the social work program.

What will the prospective Agency Field Instructor know about the student before the placement interview?

In some cases prospective Agency Field Instructors call the Director of the Field Education Program or their assigned Faculty Field Liaison to clarify information, or we may call a prospective Agency Field Instructor to discuss a student’s special needs.

What is the purpose of the placement interview?

The placement interview gives the student and the Agency Field Instructor an opportunity to get acquainted and to explore mutual expectations about the placement. The goal of this interview is to determine if the match of student/agency/field instructor is appropriate. Students should treat this interview as a professional meeting. If the match of student and agency does not seem appropriate, the student should contact the Field Education Office immediately. A different placement option is then explored.

How do I prepare for the agency interview?

It is important to put your best self forward when interviewing with agencies.  You are encouraged to utilize resources available through the Boise State University Career Center and to solicit feedback on your resume or interviewing skills from social work faculty.

The tips below may also be helpful:

  1. Demonstrate professional behavior:
    1. Communicate respectfully via e-mail and/or phone. Return calls if messages are left for you and respond to e-mails you receive from agency personnel.
    2. Dress professionally for your interview.
  2. Take a resume with you to your interview. Resumes should include relevant professional and volunteer experience. You may also want to include information about relevant coursework you have completed to date, as well as professional references.
  3. Prepare questions: Take time to consider what you would like to ask agency personnel in order to get an understanding of what field work in their agency might be like.

What questions should be explored in the placement interview?

  • Practicum assignment including types of clients, activities, projects, services rendered and caseload size (if applicable);
  • How tasks will be assigned, especially during the first few weeks of the placement;
  • Teaching style of the Agency Field Instructor and learning style of the student;
  • Approaches to supervision should be discussed:
    • When will weekly conferences be scheduled?
    • Will other agency staff be involved?
    • Does the field instructor expect the student to take the initiative in seeking help?
    • How will the instructor routinely monitor the student’s work?
  • Issues of protocol, and norms present in the field agency regarding dress, student space, level of formality in communication, confidentiality, correspondence, and topics such as personal safety and health precautions, when applicable.
  • What is the mission and purpose of your agency?
  • Who are your most common clients and what are the problems/challenges they commonly face?
  • How is social work viewed in your agency? Will I be able to see a variety of social workers in practice?
  • What specific social work skills will I have the opportunity to develop in this setting?
  • What learning opportunities / experiences will I be able to participate in at your agency?
  • How does your agency support student learning and balance the needs of the student, Agency Field Instructor, and clients?

Share enough information about personalities and mutual expectations in order to be able to assess how both the student and the Agency Field Instructor may work together most effectively.

If someone I know wants to serve as an Agency Field Instructor, what should they do?

Experienced BSW and MSW social workers interested in serving as field instructors should contact:

Boise State University School of Social Work
Director of Field Education
Raymond Mullenax
1910 University Drive
Boise, Idaho 83725-1940
(208) 426-5936
(208) 426-4291 Fax
raymondmullenax@boisestate.edu

My field practicum site requires background checks, drug tests, and/or immunizations. What should I do?

Students are expected to comply with agency requirements regarding immunizations, drug testing and BCI (Background Criminal Investigation) checks in a timely manner. Each agency may also have policies regarding required medical checks or immunizations. For example, a tuberculosis history and skin test may be required in some settings, and if a positive history exists, a TB chest X-ray may be required.

Given the increase in outbreaks of old and new, more resistant strains of TB, all students should consider a medical check, especially those in institutional settings. The same may be true for Hepatitis B. Please consult with your Agency Field Instructor for information on any medical procedures that are required or recommended at your agency.

I have a lot of work experience in social work settings, may I waive the field instruction requirement?

Although the internships/practicum experiences in your other degree program may have utilized some similar skills, interventions or activities, the Social Work Field instruction experience is based upon very specific learning objectives and practice tasks which correlate with the many varied social work roles, interventions and practice settings in compliance with CSWE accreditation standards. Academic or Field practicum credit is not granted for life experience or professional work experience.

I have a Master’s Degree in Counseling, Psychology or another human services field, may I use the internship/practicum hours for that program to waive the social work field instruction requirement?

While work or volunteer experience in the social work field is very valuable and will assist you in your academic social work program, the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), which is responsible for accreditation of social work education programs, does not allow work or life experience to be substituted for the field instruction component. (CSWE Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards, Standard 5.2 p.16). Academic credit is not granted for life experience or professional work experience.

Can placements be completed in my place of employment?

Field Practicum Placement in an agency where a student is employed may be proposed by BSW or MSW students. Evaluation and approval of the proposal, to use the agency where the student is employed for a field practicum placement, is the responsibility of the Boise State University School of Social Work. The agency official with the authority to grant permission for release time for the field placement should be contacted before submitting proposals to the Director of Field Education for approval. The final proposal must be approved by both the student’s proposed Agency Field Instructor and the Director of Field Education.Detailed instructions to complete a proposal are located in the Field Manual page 14.

I’m from out of state and/or plan to relocate out of state, but still commute for my classes, may I do my field placement at an out-of-state site?

Field placement processes are unique to each campus. If you are a student in one of the external programs (Twin Falls, Lewiston, Coeur d’Alene) – consult with your Program Coordinator for specific details on the placement process.

What if the placement doesn't work?

Occasionally it is necessary to terminate placements due to Agency Field Instructor or student factors. Termination requires as much planning as placement. The student and Agency Field Instructor should thoroughly discuss the need to terminate in consultation with the Faculty Field Liaison and, when appropriate, the Director of Field Education. Students are not relieved of their field responsibilities without the approval of the Director of Field Education. See the Field Manual, page 27 under Problem-Solving Policyfor specifics.

What if I’m having a problem in my agency?

Occasionally it is necessary to terminate placements due to Agency Field Instructor or student factors. Termination requires as much planning as placement. The student and Agency Field Instructor should thoroughly discuss the need to terminate in consultation with the Faculty Field Liaison and, when appropriate, the Director of Field Education. Students are not relieved of their field responsibilities without the approval of the Director of Field Education. See the Field Manual, page 27 under Problem-Solving Policy for specifics.

Do students need to have a car?

  1. The student will address the concerns with the Agency Field Instructor and see if the issues of concern can be worked out directly. Since the power differential between student and Agency Field Instructor can be somewhat intimidating, especially early in the practicum relationship, the student may wish to consult with her/his Faculty Field Liaison to “rehearse” how to approach the Agency Field Instructor for such a discussion.
  2. If the issue at hand cannot be resolved directly with the Agency Field Instructor, the student will contact their Faculty Field Liaison and consult with him/her regarding potential arrangement of a face-to-face meeting among all concerned. External programs may need to use teleconference or video technology as a more responsive way to meet with rural agencies that may otherwise require significant travel time. Such a meeting will serve to clarify problems, discuss potential solutions, and attempt to develop a plan that will allow the practicum to go forth.
  3. Should this final approach be unsuccessful, the student, Agency Field Instructor and/or Faculty Field Liaison shall inform the Director of Field Education and all parties shall meet to discuss options available to the student. For external programs a site coordinator will also be involved. If indicated, this meeting may be to arrange termination of the student placement with the agency. Termination of a field placement cannot occur unless the problem solving process has been fully utilized.
  4. If appropriate, the Office of Field will work with the Faculty Field Liaison and the student (or external site program coordinator) to identify other placement options. The Office of Field cannot guarantee that a second field option will be available.

Do students need professional liability insurance?

All social work practicum and internship students are covered by State of Idaho/Boise State University’s General Liability insurance program. Per the Idaho Tort Claims Act, specifically, Idaho Code section 6-902, Boise State University shall maintain comprehensive General Liability coverage in such amounts as are proscribed by Idaho Code section 6-924 (capped at $500,000). The University’s liability coverage shall cover the actions of University and its employees, agents, students, and faculty while acting in the course and scope of employment or as students of Institution in performing actions related to the program. Coverage is effective upon enrollment in the practicum/internship.

Additionally, Boise State University School of Social Work purchases professional insurance to cover each student while enrolled as a student in practicum/internship. The insurance coverage is provided by American Casualty Company and the liability limits are $1,000,000 each claim and $5,000,000 aggregate. The cost of this insurance coverage is included in student’s field program fees.

I’m totally stressed out! What resources exist for self-care and what can I do?

Disability Resource Center (DRC) 

The Disability Resource Center is responsible for ensuring that Boise State University maintains an educationally and physically open, accessible environment for students with disabilities.  The Disability Resource Center helps Boise State achieve its goal of embracing diversity by providing access and facilitating independence.
Boise State Campus Assessment, Resource, and Education (CARE)

Living, learning, and working at Boise State University can be very stressful at times.  All members of the university community, including students, faculty, and staff, will face challenges.  As a result, some individuals may exhibit behavior that is concerning, disruptive, or threatening towards themselves or others.  Boise State has established the CARE Team to provide assistance to the campus community in addressing these behaviors of concern.

Career Center

The Career Center is committed to assisting Boise State University students and alumni as they make decisions about their futures through our career planning and development programs and employment services. Our purpose is to facilitate positive partnerships and engagement opportunities among students, alumni, and employers in our community and beyond. We assist students in:

  1. Planning and implementing career objectives
  2. Finding student employment and experiential education opportunities
  3. Meeting their post graduate career goals

Boise State Health Services

Counseling Center

Assessments and Screenings:  This free screening for depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, alcohol and eating disorders is made available to all Boise State students and employees and is taken anonymously. The screening is provided so that you may find out – in a few minutes – whether or not professional consultation would be helpful to you.  We also provide ADHD screening and assessment for a fee, as well as assessment referrals when it isn’t clear what the best plan is for addressing a problem, or the treatment is not within the scope of our services. We can refer to either on-campus services or community resources.

For additional community resources see:  http://healthservices.boisestate.edu/counseling/referral-consultation/

Health Coaching

As a complement to other health services, health coaching is a personalized approach to behavior change. Through client-centered goal setting, individuals are empowered to improve their health and wellness. Our health coaches will guide, motivate, and provide resources while helping clients set SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time specific) goals.

Massage Program

The Medical Massage Program offers therapeutic massage to patients referred by a Health Center medical provider. Medical massage is a viable and non-invasive treatment option for conditions that are scientifically known to benefit from massage techniques applied in a skilled, therapeutic fashion under the supervision of mid-level provider or physician.  Massage appointments are billed directly to the student’s health insurance plan at the current rate of reimbursement. However, if the massage is not covered by their insurance, the student will be directly billed.

Office of the Dean of Students

Case management provides early intervention and support to Boise State students experiencing difficulties or distress, such as juggling a demanding schedule. Depending on individual needs, the case manager can coordinate services on and off campus to help address struggles and reduce the negative impact on the student and the greater campus community. In addition to developing a coordinated needs assessment, the case manager assists with:

Boise State Campus Recreation

Full-time student membership costs are included in student fees paid to the university.

ASBSU Legal Services

The Associated Students of Boise State University (ASBSU) provides FREE ATTORNEY CONSULTATIONS with a local private lawyer for most legal problems you may have. This service is available to all eligible students of Boise State.  Check the website for a list of topics discussed.

Further Resources