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Field Experience: School of Social Work: Field Policies

MSW Field Education Policies

 Agency Onboarding Requirements

Each Field Site is different in the requirements it has for students to be eligible to intern. If specific background checks and pre-screenings  are required for students, a field site may notify the student, a Field Education Coordinator, or Walden’s Legal Team of various items that may need to be completed. Some sites require background checks, drug screens, immunizations, health screens (TB, flu shot, MMR, student health insurance, BLS, etc.), or other onboarding required for a student to be approved to intern by their quarter start date. Occasionally when these are required, the field site requests Walden University to verify that the various onboarding requirements are valid and in compliance with the site’s requirements. When this occurs, Walden University may utilize one or more third-party vendors to complete these steps, as requested and required by various Field Sites. 

If this occurs, the assigned Field Education Coordinator will relay the required steps directly to the student via email. Please note that third-party vendors charge students a fee to utilize their services. Walden University does not cover this cost, which can vary by state and specific onboarding tasks are required of the student. 

Please note: To move forward with onboarding steps, an affiliation agreement must already be established between the site and Walden University’s MSW program.  If an agreement is not yet in place, negotiating one may take time to process. If students delay in completing onboarding steps, they may not be able to begin their field hours on time.

Recommendation: It is recommended that students set up a backup site if their first-choice site requires legal negotiations and 3rd party onboarding requirements, in the event it is not completed in time for the student’s intended quarter.

Required Field Hours

  • Students will not pass the field course if they did not meet the  hour requirement for that term.
  • Students must have have 200 approved hours for each foundation course (SOCW 6500 and SOCW 6510)
  • Students must have 250 approved hours for each concentration course (SOCW 6520 and SOCW 6530)

COVID-19 Note: Concentration Field hours may be reduced depending on when you begin. Please connect with your Field Education Coordinator to confirm.

Each academic term consists of 11 weeks. Each field course covers an 11 week term. 

Full-time and part-time students will complete four quarters of Field Education during their program. Two sequential quarters in the first year of the program and two sequential quarters at the end of the program. Students will complete 200 hours of internship during each of the foundation year courses, and 250 hours in each of the concentration year courses, for a total of 900 hours over the course of the program.

Advanced standing students will complete two quarters of Field Education during their program. These are completed at the end of the program, typically the last two quarters. Students will be expected to complete 250 hours at their internship during each of the two quarters for a total of 500 hours over the course of the program. 

Continuing Field Experience Between Quarters

Generally, students are not allowed to use the weeks between quarters to complete Field Experience hours. Students must have university supervision at all times while participating in Field.

Some circumstances may create a need for a student to continue hours between quarters. In those rare cases, students must petition their Field Liaison, and the final decision will be made by their Liaison in combination with the Director of Field. If permission is granted, the Liaison will help ensure that students maintain contact with him or her during the interim week. This contact may be made either through the classroom or using other technologies (e.g., web video calling, teleconferencing).

 

Student Absences from Field Experience

1. Students are expected to attend all agreed-upon days and times at the agency for the entire quarter of enrollment in a Field Education course.

2. Students are to notify their Field Instructor when they must be absent; if the absence is expected to last more than one week, the student must also notify their Field Liaison.

3. All absences are to be made up in a manner mutually agreed upon by the student, Field Instructor, and Field Liaison.

4. A minimum of 250* hours must be completed for a student to receive a passing grade in each Field Education course. A student who fails to meet this requirement will have to retake the course.

5. Absences due to observance of religious holidays, attendance at professional meetings, or participation in professional conferences may be permitted with the prior approval of the Field Instructor and Field Liaison. The Field Instructor will determine the number of hours credited for attendance at professional meetings or conferences.

6. Students are not allowed to bank hours in hopes of completing Field Experience earlier. Students must remain at the Field site until the end of the academic term.

7. If there is more than one absence that occurs without notifying the Field Instructor, the Field Experience will be terminated and a grade of U (Unsatisfactory) will be given.  

*200 hours each quarter for Foundation Summer 2020-Winter 2020.

Worksite Placements

It is important to be aware of the potential challenges with worksite placements. The familiarity of a student’s workplace can create issues for students who are in a field experience to learn new skills while trying to satisfy employer and work demands.

In certain circumstances, it may be acceptable for students to complete their internship at their place of employment. Some agencies are large enough to provide unique and distinct experiences for students so that their role of employee does not blur with their role as learner/intern.  In some circumstances. students may qualify to count some of their paid work hours to count toward internship hours. The approval depends on many factors.  Here are some of the things considered when approving worksite placement:

1. The tasks proposed for the student must meet the competency requirements for the student’s level of learning.

2. The supervisor must be able to communicate how the tasks meet those competencies and how the student will have opportunities for new learning.

3. The employer and supervisor must agree to the terms of the placement and learning expectations.

4. The student should have worked at the site for at least 6 months to ensure they are past any probationary period.

5. The student understands the unique risks associated with worksite placements and agrees to the terms. Some risks include,

a. Losing a job may result in losing an internship

b. Risk of poor performance as an intern negatively impacts employment (while we expect employers to treat you as a learner and not confuse the roles, there is no guarantee this will happen).

c. By choosing a worksite placement, you may not have as many new learning opportunities or have the opportunity to learn something outside the context of your worksite.

An agency that is providing a field experience for an employee must meet the same criteria as other field agencies.

 

MSW Student Rules of Conduct at Field Experience

MSW students are expected to abide by the following rules while at their Field site:

1. To arrange life and work schedules to permit a Field Experience schedule that is consistent from week to week and that meets the requirement for 250* hours per quarter.

2. To familiarize themselves with and abide by the policies and regulations of their Field site and those of the Walden University Social Work Program. This includes adhering to the policies and requirements outlined in the Field Manual, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) requirements, Code of Ethics, and any other requirements specific to the Field site.

3. To perform in a responsible, professional manner maintaining commitments to the site, Field Instructor, and clients.

4. To not utilize agency computers for personal reasons.

5. To not utilize personal cell phones during internship hours unless expecting an urgent message. If an urgent call is expected, authorization to take the call should be obtained from the Field Instructor.

6. To not utilize personal cell phones to contact clients or to do agency business.

7. To not utilize personal computers to store clients’ protected health information (PHI).

8. To not complete classwork during hours in Field unless special authorization from the Field Liaison and Field Instructor is obtained.

9. To arrive on time and to stay for the full duration of the scheduled shift. A student’s grade in Field will be affected by persistent absenteeism or tardiness.

10. To help ensure that appearance and demeanor reflect a professional manner; consult with Field Instructor regarding agency dress code.

11. To develop, in conjunction with the Field Instructor and Field Liaison, a Learning Agreement that identifies the activities and expectations to meet the learning objectives and outcomes based on competencies and practice behaviors identified by the Walden University Social Work Program. To take an active role in planning and implementing the learning experiences in the Field Experience using the opportunities at the Field site to integrate theory and practice, increasing the level of knowledge and self-awareness, and to share course syllabi with the Field Instructor.

12. To communicate educational needs and interests to the Field Instructor and to notify the Field Liaison if they are not receiving at least one hour per week of supervision.

13. To discuss with the Field Instructor and/or Field Liaison areas of concern or confusion about the Field Experience.

14. To attend and be prepared for scheduled supervisory meetings with the Field Instructor.

15. To notify the Field Instructor of any necessary absences from Field as is expected in professional employment.

16. To maintain a Time Log that documents attendance at Field Experience.

17. To make up any missing time during the same quarter to help ensure that required Field hours are met.

18. To participate in any scheduled site visit (three-way conferences) with the Field Instructor and Field Liaison.

19. To adhere to the NASW Code of Ethics in all practices. You can download a copy of the ethical code here.

20. To participate in the evaluation process with the Field Instructor by reviewing, signing, and confirming delivery of the evaluation forms. 

21. To handle stress effectively by using appropriate self-care and by developing supportive relationships with colleagues, peers, and others when stress impacts scholastic and professional performance.

22. To seek and effectively use help for problems that interfere with scholastic and professional performance.

 

*200 hours each quarter for Foundation Summer 2020-Winter 2020.

Each student is to obtain professional liability insurance prior to beginning their placement. Students must acquire their own malpractice insurance policy, even if they are covered by the agency’s insurance policy. Students may obtain the required insurance through NASW Assurance Service or through any other agency that provides coverage.

  • Students must maintain liability insurance with a single limit of no less than one million dollars ($1,000,000) per occurrence and three million ($3,000,000) annual aggregate.

Students are required to be insured at the onset of the Field Experience placement until the placement ends. In instances where the insurance certificate that was sent with application expires during Field, the student must submit their current insurance certificate to the MSW Field Office through Meditrek. Students must have a current insurance certificate on file to participate in the Field Experience and will not be allowed to begin the placement without proof of liability insurance.

Credit for Life Experience

The Master of Social Work Program recognizes the richness of contributions from students with previous experience and appreciates the value this brings to the classroom. However, current CSWE educational standards DO NOT allow life/work experience credit toward field hours.

Home Visit Waiver Form

Some agencies require students visit clients in their home setting. This is a standard practice in social work, but one that has risks involved. All students will need to upload a Home Visit Waiver Form with their Field application indicating their understanding of the risks involved. Training is provided in the Skills Lab course to help students prepare for safety in home settings. All students are required to view the Safety Training Webinars during Skills Lab. Students who do not sign a waiver will not be allowed to participate in home visits.

To protect you and your clients, we do not allow students to transport clients. Often, personal automobile insurance excludes business driving, so if you were involved in an accident while transporting clients, you may face significant personal liability that may not be covered by your insurance policy. While we understand that this may be an inconvenience for some students, we do not make any exceptions to this policy.

Requesting Accommodations in Accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act

The program will not discriminate on the basis of disability and is committed to providing all qualified students who have disabilities equal access to its programs, services, and activities in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

In postsecondary education, it is the student’s responsibility to self-identify disability status and to register with Walden’s Office of Disability Services prior to requesting accommodations. To register, the student submits documentation of disability along with Walden’s Accommodation Request form to Disability Services.

Students with disabilities requesting accommodations for Field Experience should register with Disability Services prior to registering for Field and should clarify their specific accommodation needs. In most cases, Field sites have their own systems for helping to ensure equal access for employees and/or interns with any disabilities. Disability Services will help address any gaps in those systems.

Petitions to Waive Field Policies

Policies are in place to support an optimal graduate student educational experience. However, there are situations where the Field Office will review special circumstances.

Students who wish to petition to waive a policy related to the application or placement process must:

  • Request a Petition Form from the Field Office, complete it, and send it back by the deadline provided by the Office. 
  • Petitions are reviewed by the member working with the student who will provide notes and/or a recommendation to the Director of Field. 
  • Petitions will be reviewed by the Director of Field within five days of receipt.
  • Students will be notified of the decision via email and receive a copy of the final signed petition form. 

Below are the various Petition Forms used to request to waive Field requirements:

  • Application Extension Petition
    • Use this petition if extenuating circumstances prevented you from applying for Field by the deadline.
  • General Exceptions Petition: There are a number of Field polices that are in place for the placement process. Use this petition if you are petitioning to waive the requirement:
    • To have a different supervisor for each placement.
    • That your Foundation and Concentration placements are at two different agencies.
    • For any other Field Education policy.
  • Identifying an Agency Petition: In order to ensure enough time to set Field placements up, deadlines are in place for students to submit their agency of choice and the contact person for that agency.
    • Use this petition if you have extenuating circumstances that prevented you from meeting the agency identification deadline.
  • Worksite Placement Exception Petition: Worksite placements can create unique challenges. Therefore, there are a number of policies in place to protect students from adverse experiences. The general policy is that students should have worked at the agency for at least 6 months, intern in a different department than they work, and not utilize their work supervisor as their internship supervisor. It is our standard policy that you only have one placement at your worksite. Use this petition if:
    • There are special circumstances that provide support for waiving the 6 month requirement. 
    • There are special circumstances that support the request for having both your Foundation and Concentration placements at your worksite.
    • You are petitioning for both placements to be at your worksite and you hope to use the same supervisor for both placements. 

Grievance and Appeal Rights of Students

Field Placements

If a student is dissatisfied with his or her Field site, the student should:

  • Inform the Field Liaison (faculty).
  • The Field Liaison will review the concerns presented and, if there is appropriate justification, the liaison can recommend the agency be changed.
  • This decision would involve and result from a mutual assessment by the agency, the student, the Field Liaison, Field Office, and Director of Field.
  • The Director of Field will make the final decision regarding any changes in Field placements.
  • The student would work with their Field Coordinator to secure a new placement site to continue the term.  If a new site can’t be secured in a reasonable amount of time (generally 2 weeks or less) to finish the course, students may have to take a quarter off of field until the new site is secured. 

Field Instructor Evaluations

If a student is satisfied with the grade assigned by the Field Liaison but disputes an evaluation by the Field Instructor, the student should:

  • Submit a written appeal to the Field Instructor detailing why the student believes the evaluation should be changed.
  • The student should submit the appeal to the Field Instructor and copy the Field Liaison.
  • If the student is not satisfied with the results of the written appeal to the Field Instructor, the student may request a meeting with the Director of Field. 
  • The Director of Field will meet with the student and Field Instructor to address the issue.

University Appeals

MSW students who appeal a course grade are governed by Walden University policies. Please refer to the Walden University Student Handbook for policies and procedures for appeals.

Please refer to the Walden University Student Handbook for policies and procedures pertaining to all other appeals.

Procedures for Termination from the Field Placement

As professional social workers, graduates will be utilizing their skills to help others make changes in their lives. They will sometimes be called upon to make serious decisions, which can be helpful or harmful to others. A social worker who does not respect the values and ethics of the profession, who is incapable of mastering the work of the profession, or who does not take change-making seriously can harm clients. Good social workers must be able to understand and discipline their own emotional needs so as to avoid projecting these needs on others and using clients for personal gratification. They must have not only abstract knowledge about the profession, but also the ability to translate knowledge into practical application.

Student’s sustainability will be continually and thoroughly assessed throughout their time in the social work Field Experience. The normal expectation when a student is admitted to Field Experience is that the student has the potential for success. Disagreements may occur and mistakes may be made, but these are usually part of the learning process. The Field Liaison, Field Instructor(s), and student, working together, will generally be able to overcome “rough spots” in an atmosphere of mutual respect and concern.

It is not common for a student to be asked to leave a Field site, but it can occur. When there are serious concerns about a student’s suitability for the profession, the Field Instructor may assess that the student should not continue in the Field Experience. This may result from a single grave incident or from a pattern of behaviors. Both academic and Field settings are considered when determining if a student should not continue.

The Director of Field may require a student to leave the Field site if:

  • The student’s performance in the Field Experience demonstrates, after adequate corrective efforts, little likelihood of successful completion. This may be a matter of knowledge, skills, and/or values.
  • The student’s attitudes or values are incompatible with the practice of professional social work (e.g. strong disregard for change, diversity, honesty, and/or competency).
  • The student persists in conduct in the field that endangers clients, the agency, the university, other students, or the student himself or herself (“unsafe practice”).
  • The student commits a serious violation of the NASW Code of Ethics, whether or not an NASW member.
  • The student is consistently unable to form productive working relationships with clients, Field Instructors, or other students.
  • The student’s personal problems (e.g. relationship, substance abuse, mental illness) are so serious or recent as to preclude effective work in the field setting.
  • The student engages in serious academic or other dishonesty or in a breach of confidentiality.

The first step when any problem becomes apparent is a discussion among those most directly affected. When a problem is so persistent or serious that a student’s continuance in the placement is in question, the student will be informed in writing by the Director of Field of the area(s) of concern and corrective action necessary for continuance in the placement. The specific time-frame allowed for the corrective action will be determined by the Director of Field in consultation with the Field Liaison and Field Instructor.

If the student does not follow through on the corrective action plan, the Director of Field will notify the Program Director of social work programs so that further action can be taken. The Walden University Student Handbook will be followed with the possibility of the student being terminated from Field.

A student who has been terminated from Field may be assigned a new Field site if the problems that led to that decision are resolved. The burden is on the student to demonstrate that this is the case. A new Field site requires the student to reapply to Field, using the MSW Field Experience application process and work with the Field Office to secure a new and appropriate placement.

If a student is dismissed from an agency and a comportment plan does not require them to sit out, they have two weeks to locate a replacement agency, their grade is entered as incomplete, and they have 60 days for their grade to be changed from incomplete to complete. If their grade is not changed, students will fail the course and need to retake the course and internship hours.

Students are allowed to transfer agencies only under extenuating circumstances. Students must discuss the concerns with their Field Liaison prior to transferring agencies. If a Field Liaison recommends a transfer, the student must contact the Field Office to arrange the necessary requirements to follow through on this process. The final decision will be made by the Director of Field. If a transfer is approved, a student will have two weeks to secure a secondary placement. 

Reporting a Safety Incident

Students should report any type of safety incident immediately to the Field Instructor and Field Liaison. This includes accidents or injuries during the internship and threats to personal safety.

The following protocol should be followed:

  1. The student notifies Field Instructor and Field Liaison of the occurrence or threatening situation immediately.
  2. The Field Liaison notifies the Director of Field so that university support, where appropriate, can be offered.
  3. Field Instructor, Field Liaison, and Director of Field will collaborate to determine next steps and whether or not the student can remain at the agency.
  4. The student should follow agency protocols for reporting incidents and not try to resolve the issue alone.

NOTE: Any situation that causes an immediate threat, should be treated the same as other emergency situations.  Students should remove themselves from harm and call the proper authorities

 

Issues Arising in Field Experience

Students are required to contact their Field Liaison (faculty) if they experience a significant issue or problem during the Field Experience using the following procedures:

  1. The Field Liaison will contact the Field Instructor to discuss the matter and attempt to resolve the problem.
  2. Upon resolution, the Field Instructor will document the problem and its resolution, including the procedures for resolving the problem.
  3. The Field Instructor notifies the Director of Field of the situation and resolution process.
  4. The Field Instructor monitors the situation and notifies the Field Director if the resolution is not working.

If the problem or issue is unable to be resolved in this manner, the Field Liaison consults with the Director of Field and they meet with the Field Instructor to resolve the matter. After consultation with the Field Liaison and the Coordinator of Academic Achievement, the Director of Field makes the final decision on whether the student should be removed from the placement and if another placement should be located for the student. When the Field placement is complete, appropriate documentation is signed by all individuals involved, stating that the requirements for addressing the problem have been fulfilled.

BSW Field Policies

Required Field Hours

  • Students MUST complete 200 hours each term in order to successfully pass the field course; (SOCW 4100/SOCW4110) 
  • Students MUST have the 200 approved hours for each field course (SOCW 4100/SOCW4110)
  • Total of 400 hours

Each Academic term consists of 11 weeks. Each field course covers an 11 week term. Students are encouraged to spend approximately 20 hours per week in order to complete the hours over one term. Students must complete a total of 400 hours over 2 sequential terms. 

Continuing Field Education Hours between Terms

Generally speaking, students are not allowed to complete hours during terms as this is working outside of the Academic term and without University support. In rare instances, this option may need to be considered, however; the Field Agency, Field Liaison and Director of Field must all approve of such a plan. The plan must include direct supervision throughout the break with the Field Agency and Field Liaison. A student's lack of planning is not justification to execute such a plan. 

Student Absences from Field Experience

1. Students are expected to attend all agreed-upon days and times at the agency for the entire quarter of enrollment in a Field Education course (SOCW 4100/SOCW 4110).

2. Students are to notify their Field Instructor when they must be absent; if the absence is expected to last more than one week, the student must also notify their Field Liaison.

3. All absences are to be made up in a manner mutually agreed upon by the student, Field Instructor, and Field Liaison.

4. A minimum of 200 hours must be completed for a student to receive a passing grade in each Field Education course. A student who fails to meet this requirement will have to retake the course.

5. Absences due to observance of religious holidays, attendance at professional meetings, or participation in professional conferences may be permitted with the prior approval of the Field Instructor and Field Liaison. The Field Instructor will determine the number of hours credited for attendance at professional meetings or conferences.

6. Students are not allowed to bank hours in hopes of completing Field Experience earlier. Students must remain at the Field site until the end of the academic term.

7. If there is more than one absence that occurs without notifying the Field Instructor, the Field Experience will be terminated and a grade of U (Unsatisfactory) will be given.

Worksite Placements

It is recommended that students NOT be placed in agencies where they are employed. The familiarity of a student’s workplace often creates issues for students who are in a Field Experience to learn new skills while trying to satisfy employer and work demands. 

In certain circumstances, students may be allowed an employment-based field experience. Some agencies are large enough to provide unique and distinct experiences for students so that their role of employee does not blur with their role as learner/intern. In some circumstances, students may qualify to count some of their paid work hours towards internship hours. The approval depends on many factors.  The following policies apply to employment-based Field Experiences:

  • The tasks proposed for the student must meet competency requirements for the student's level of learning (meet Learning Agreement objectives).
  • The supervisor must be able to communicate how the tasks meet those competencies and how the student will have opportunities for new learning. 
  • The employer and supervisor must agree to the terms of the placement and learning expectations.
  • The student has been employed at the agency at least 6 months and/or will not be under any probationary period at the agency. 
  • The student understands the unique risks associated with worksite placements and agrees to the terms. Some risks include,
    • Losing the job may result in losing the internship
    • Poor performance as an intern could negatively impact employment
    • By choosing a worksite placement, you may not have as many new learning opportunities or have the opportunity to learn something outside the context of your worksite. 

An agency this is providing a field experience for an employer must meet the same criteria as other field agencies.

BSW Students Rules of Conduct: 

1. To arrange life and work schedules to permit a Field Experience schedule that is consistent from week to week and that meets the requirement for 200 hours per quarter.

2. To familiarize themselves with and abide by the policies and regulations of their Field site and those of the Walden University Social Work Program. This includes adhering to the policies and requirements outlined in the Field Manual, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) requirements, Code of Ethics, and any other requirements specific to the Field site.

3. To perform in a responsible, professional manner maintaining commitments to the site, Field Instructor, and clients.

4. To not utilize agency computers for personal reasons.

5. To not utilize personal cell phones during internship hours unless expecting an urgent message. If an urgent call is expected, authorization to take the call should be obtained from the Field Instructor.

6. To not utilize personal cell phones to contact clients or to do agency business.

7. To not utilize personal computers to store clients’ protected health information (PHI).

8. To not complete classwork during hours in Field unless special authorization from the Field Liaison and Field Instructor is obtained.

9. To arrive on time and to stay for the full duration of the scheduled shift. A student’s grade in Field will be affected by persistent absenteeism or tardiness.

10. To help ensure that appearance and demeanor reflect a professional manner; consult with Field Instructor regarding agency dress code.

11. To develop, in conjunction with the Field Instructor and Field Liaison, a Learning Agreement that identifies the activities and expectations to meet the learning objectives and outcomes based on competencies and practice behaviors identified by the Walden University Social Work Program. To take an active role in planning and implementing the learning experiences in the Field Experience using the opportunities at the Field site to integrate theory and practice, increasing the level of knowledge and self-awareness, and to share course syllabi with the Field Instructor.

12. To communicate educational needs and interests to the Field Instructor and to notify the Field Liaison if they are not receiving at least one hour per week of supervision.

13. To discuss with the Field Instructor and/or Field Liaison areas of concern or confusion about the Field Experience.

14. To attend and be prepared for scheduled supervisory meetings with the Field Instructor.

15. To notify the Field Instructor of any necessary absences from Field as is expected in professional employment.

16. To maintain a Time Log that documents attendance at Field Experience.

17. To make up any missing time during the same quarter to help ensure that required Field hours are met.

18. To participate in any scheduled site visit (three-way conferences) with the Field Instructor and Field Liaison.

19. To adhere to the NASW Code of Ethics in all practices. You can download a copy of the ethical code here.

20. To participate in the evaluation process with the Field Instructor by reviewing, signing, and confirming delivery of the evaluation forms. 

21. To handle stress effectively by using appropriate self-care and by developing supportive relationships with colleagues, peers, and others when stress impacts scholastic and professional performance.

22. To seek and effectively use help for problems that interfere with scholastic and professional performance.

Each student is to obtain Professional Liability Insurance prior to beginning their placement. Students must acquire their own malpractice insurance policy, even if they are covered by the agency’s insurance policy. Students may obtain the required insurance through NASW Assurance Service or through any other agency that provides coverage.

  • Students must maintain liability insurance with a single limit of no less than one million dollars ($1,000,000) per occurrence and three million ($3,000,000) annual aggregate.

Students are required to be insured at the onset of the Field Experience placement until the placement ends. In instances where the insurance certificate that was sent with application expires during Field, the student must submit their current insurance certificate to the BSW Field Office through Meditrek. Students must have a current insurance certificate on file to participate in the Field Experience and will not be allowed to begin the placement without proof of liability insurance.

To protect you and your clients, we do not allow students to transport clients. Often, personal automobile insurance excludes business driving, so if you were involved in an accident while transporting clients, you may face significant personal liability that may not be covered by your insurance policy. While we understand that this may be an inconvenience for some students, we do not make any exceptions to this policy. You may transport a client with an agency employee or your Supervisor but not in your vehicle or with you driving. 

Requesting Accommodations in Accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act

The program will not discriminate on the basis of disability and is committed to providing all qualified students who have disabilities equal access to its programs, services, and activities in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

In postsecondary education, it is the student’s responsibility to self-identify disability status and to register with Walden’s Office of Disability Services prior to requesting accommodations. To register, the student submits documentation of disability along with Walden’s Accommodation Request form to Disability Services.

Students with disabilities requesting accommodations for Field Experience should register with Disability Services prior to registering for Field and should clarify their specific accommodation needs. In most cases, Field sites have their own systems for helping to ensure equal access for employees and/or interns with any disabilities. Disability Services will help address any gaps in those systems.

Petitions to Waive Field Policies

Policies are in place to support an optimal Field experience. However, there are situations where the Field Office will review special circumstances.

Students who wish to petition to waive a policy related to the application or placement process must:

  • Request a Petition Form from the Field Office, complete it, and send it back by the deadline provided by the Office. 
  • Petitions are reviewed by the member working with the student who will provide notes and/or a recommendation to the Director of Field. 
  • Petitions will be reviewed by the Director of Field within five days of receipt.
  • Students will be notified of the decision via email and receive a copy of the final signed petition form. 

Below are the various Petition Forms used to request to waive Field requirements:

  • Application Extension Petition
    • Use this petition if extenuating circumstances prevented you from applying for Field by the deadline.
  • General Exceptions Petition: There are a number of Field polices that are in place for the placement process. Use this petition if you are petitioning to waive the requirement:
    • To have a different supervisor for each term
    • For any other Field Education policy.
  • Identifying an Agency Petition: In order to ensure enough time to set Field placements up, deadlines are in place for students to submit their agency of choice and the contact person for that agency.
    • Use this petition if you have extenuating circumstances that prevented you from meeting the agency identification deadline.
  • Worksite Placement Exception Petition: Worksite placements can create unique challenges. Therefore, there are a number of policies in place to protect students from adverse experiences. The general policy is that students should have worked at the agency for at least 6 months/or completed the probationary employment period.
    • There are special circumstances that provide support for waiving the 6 month requirement.

Grievance and Appeal Rights of Students

Field Placements

If a student is dissatisfied with his or her Field site, the student should:

  • Inform the Field Liaison (faculty).
  • The Field Liaison will review the concerns presented and, if there is appropriate justification, the liaison can recommend the agency be changed.
  • This decision would involve and result from a mutual assessment by the agency, the student, the Field Liaison, Field Office, and Director of Field.
  • The Director of Field will make the final decision regarding any changes in Field placements.
  • The student would work with their Field Coordinator to secure a new placement site to continue the term.  If a new site can’t be secured in a reasonable amount of time to finish the course, students may have to take a quarter off of field until the new site is secured. 

Field Instructor Evaluations

If a student is satisfied with the grade assigned by the Field Liaison but disputes an evaluation by the Field Instructor, the student should:

  • Submit a written appeal to the Field Instructor detailing why the student believes the evaluation should be changed.
  • The student should submit the appeal to the Field Instructor and copy the Field Liaison.
  • If the student is not satisfied with the results of the written appeal to the Field Instructor, the student may request a meeting with the Director of Field. 
  • The Director of Field will meet with the student and Field Instructor to address the issue.

University Appeals

BSW students who appeal a course grade are governed by Walden University policies. Please refer to the Walden University Student Handbook for policies and procedures for appeals.

Please refer to the Walden University Student Handbook for policies and procedures pertaining to all other appeals.

Procedures for Termination from the Field Placement

As professional social workers, graduates will be utilizing their skills to help others make changes in their lives. They will sometimes be called upon to make serious decisions, which can be helpful or harmful to others. A social worker who does not respect the values and ethics of the profession, who is incapable of mastering the work of the profession, or who does not take change-making seriously can harm clients. Good social workers must be able to understand and discipline their own emotional needs so as to avoid projecting these needs on others and using clients for personal gratification. They must have not only abstract knowledge about the profession, but also the ability to translate knowledge into practical application.

Student’s sustainability will be continually and thoroughly assessed throughout their time in the social work Field Experience. The normal expectation when a student is admitted to Field Experience is that the student has the potential for success. Disagreements may occur and mistakes may be made, but these are usually part of the learning process. The Field Liaison, Field Instructor(s), and student, working together, will generally be able to overcome “rough spots” in an atmosphere of mutual respect and concern.

It is not common for a student to be asked to leave a Field site, but it can occur. When there are serious concerns about a student’s suitability for the profession, the Field Instructor may assess that the student should not continue in the Field Experience. This may result from a single grave incident or from a pattern of behaviors. Both academic and Field settings are considered when determining if a student should not continue.

The Director of Field may require a student to leave the Field site if:

  • The student’s performance in the Field Experience demonstrates, after adequate corrective efforts, little likelihood of successful completion. This may be a matter of knowledge, skills, and/or values.
  • The student’s attitudes or values are incompatible with the practice of professional social work (e.g. strong disregard for change, diversity, honesty, and/or competency).
  • The student persists in conduct in the field that endangers clients, the agency, the university, other students, or the student himself or herself (“unsafe practice”).
  • The student commits a serious violation of the NASW Code of Ethics, whether or not an NASW member.
  • The student is consistently unable to form productive working relationships with clients, Field Instructors, or other students.
  • The student’s personal problems (e.g. relationship, substance abuse, mental illness) are so serious or recent as to preclude effective work in the field setting.
  • The student engages in serious academic or other dishonesty or in a breach of confidentiality.

The first step when any problem becomes apparent is a discussion among those most directly affected. When a problem is so persistent or serious that a student’s continuance in the placement is in question, the student will be informed in writing by the Director of Field of the area(s) of concern and corrective action necessary for continuance in the placement. The specific time-frame allowed for the corrective action will be determined by the Director of Field in consultation with the Field Liaison and Field Instructor.

If the student does not follow through on the corrective action plan, the Director of Field will notify the Program Director of social work programs so that further action can be taken. The Walden University Student Handbook will be followed with the possibility of the student being terminated from Field.

A student who has been terminated from Field may be assigned a new Field site if the problems that led to that decision are resolved. The burden is on the student to demonstrate that this is the case. A new Field site requires the student to reapply to Field, using the BSW Field Experience application process and work with the Field Office to secure a new and appropriate placement.

If a student is dismissed from an agency and a comportment plan does not require them to sit out, they have two weeks to locate a replacement agency, their grade is entered as incomplete, and they have 60 days for their grade to be changed from incomplete to complete. If their grade is not changed, students will fail the course and need to retake the course and internship hours.

Students are allowed to transfer agencies only under extenuating circumstances. Students must discuss the concerns with their Field Liaison prior to transferring agencies. If a Field Liaison recommends a transfer, the student must contact the Field Office to arrange the necessary requirements to follow through on this process. The final decision will be made by the Director of Field. If a transfer is approved, a student will have two weeks to secure a secondary placement. 

Reporting a Safety Incident

Students should report any type of safety incident immediately to the Field Instructor and Field Liaison. This includes accidents or injuries during the internship and threats to personal safety.

The following protocol should be followed:

  1. The student notifies Field Instructor and Field Liaison of the occurrence or threatening situation immediately.
  2. The Field Liaison notifies the Director of Field so that university support, where appropriate, can be offered.
  3. Field Instructor, Field Liaison, and Director of Field will collaborate to determine next steps and whether or not the student can remain at the agency.
  4. The student should follow agency protocols for reporting incidents and not try to resolve the issue alone.

NOTE: Any situation that causes an immediate threat, should be treated the same as other emergency situations.  Students should remove themselves from harm and call the proper authorities

Issues Arising in Field Experience

Students are required to contact their Field Liaison (faculty) if they experience a significant issue or problem during the Field Experience using the following procedures:

  1. The Field Liaison will contact the Field Instructor to discuss the matter and attempt to resolve the problem.
  2. Upon resolution, the Field Instructor will document the problem and its resolution, including the procedures for resolving the problem.
  3. The Field Instructor notifies the Director of Field of the situation and resolution process.
  4. The Field Instructor monitors the situation and notifies the Field Director if the resolution is not working.

If the problem or issue is unable to be resolved in this manner, the Field Liaison consults with the Director of Field and they meet with the Field Instructor to resolve the matter. After consultation with the Field Liaison and the Coordinator of Academic Achievement, the Director of Field makes the final decision on whether the student should be removed from the placement and if another placement should be located for the student. When the Field placement is complete, appropriate documentation is signed by all individuals involved, stating that the requirements for addressing the problem have been fulfilled.