Field instructors are the professionals who provide supervision and instruction to our BSW and MSW practicum students. Field instructors play a pivotal role in the education and development of our students by bridging the gap between theory and practice.
The School of Social Work at the University of Missouri--St. Louis is a founding member of a multi-university field education project called the St. Louis Social Work Field Education Collaborative that includes four St. Louis area Universities:
- The School of Social Work at the University of Missouri-St. Louis
- Saint Louis University School of Social Work
- The Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis
- Fontbonne University
The Collaborative has evolved to include a joint field instructor orientation and certificate program, continuing education events, a collaborative website and database, and selected common forms. Since many social workers in our area serve as field instructors for students from more than one of the social work programs, this collaboration has benefits to field instructors and students.
For information on hosting practicum students as an agency or as a field instructor, click on the Field Instructor Qualifications section below.
Prospective Field Instructor Information
Field Instructor Qualifications
The qualifications for instructors supervising students at the University of Missouri-St. Louis include:
- Possession of the BSW degree (for BSW students) or MSW degree (for BSW or MSW students).
- A minimum of three years of post-degree experience (for a BSW supervising a BSW student) or post-master’s social work practice for a minimum of two years (for an MSW supervising a BSW or MSW student).
- Demonstrated competency in the field of practice being used for the practicum.
- Interest in mentoring and supervising students and a willingness to make reasonable adjustments to their schedule to meet the learning needs of students.
- Active participation in or completion of an 18-hour field instructor certification program.
Previous field instruction or supervisory experience is preferred.
In some cases, students are approved to receive task supervision from a person with a degree in a field related to social work such as counseling. This would occur in situations, for example, where the student may be assigned part-time to two programs, sites, or units within the agency, with the student’s MSW/BSW instructor assigned to only one of them. The student may be assigned a task supervisor within the other site or unit who is available to provide hands-on supervision and respond to questions from the student. In such cases, the student still meets weekly with their MSW/BSW supervisor and that supervisor is ultimately responsible for that student’s placement.
Responsibility of Field Instructors
The agency field instructor plays a vital role in the education of social work students. It is important that those who take on this role have a good grasp of practice theory, significant experience in the field of social work, a good measure of patience, a desire to teach, and a sense of humor.
Field instructor responsibilities include:
- Assuming instructional and administrative responsibility for the student in the field setting.
- Orientation of the student to field placement.
- Informing students of potential safety risks associated with the practicum.
- Providing safety training to students, if appropriate.
- Providing students with safety guidelines for working with clients in an office or in clients’ homes.
- Assisting the student with the preparation of the learning agreement.
- Provision of regularly scheduled individual supervision with each student (at least one hour per week), and where feasible additional group supervision.
- Providing the student with ongoing feedback about their performance.
- Meeting with the faculty field liaison from the University at least once during the practicum, or as needed, regarding the student’s progress.
- Informing the faculty liaison of all concerns relative to the student’s fieldwork progress, activities, and any other issues that might affect the placement.
- Informing the Office of Field Education of significant changes at the agency (i.e. agency moves, changes in phone number, the resignation of field instructor, etc.)
- Completing and submitting all necessary paperwork within the timeframes outlined.
- Attending a new field instructor orientation and completing an 18-hour field instructor certification program.
- Updating affiliation materials every three years.
- Completing 15 hours of continuing education in their areas of practice every three years.
Applicaton Process for both the Agency and the Field Instructor
A Practicum Agency Affiliation Agreement form is required by the University to establish an affiliation with agencies to serve as a practicum site for UMSL Social Work students.The completed form may be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org as an email attachment on or before the student's practicum start date. The agreement remains in effect for as long as the agency is willing to participate as a practicum site.
In addition, both field instructors and agencies hosting students must complete applications to ensure compliance with School of Social Work criteria.
First Time Applications
Note: Please allow enough time to complete the account set-up and application in one sitting. It usually takes about 20 minutes. Once begun, the account application must be submitted within 24 hours.
1. Open the Application page.
2. Select "Create an account," then fill out and submit the form. An account validation email will be sent to your email address.
3. Retrieve the validation email from your inbox (check spam folders, too).
4. Login with the email ID and password you just created.
5. Complete the Field Instructor and/or Agency Application and submit.
Agency and Field Instructor applications must be renewed every three years. The application process is similar to that of a new application, but a new account only needs to be created if the email address being used for the application has changed. If that is the case, follow the instructions above. If not, simply log in with your email address and follow the instructions to renew the associated applications.
If you have any questions or have difficulty with the application process, please contact the Field Education Office at (314) 516-7665.
Becoming a Certified Field Instructor
In addition to completing the application (outlined above), new field instructors must complete the following Sessions of the St Louis Field Education Collaborative Certification Program prior to or concurrently with instruction of the first student:
- Session 1: Introduction to Field Instruction
- Session 2: Successful Beginnings
Field Instructors are asked to complete the four subsequent 3-hour training sessions over a two-year period. Topics of these remaining sessions include:
- Session 3: Ethical Decision Making
- Session 4: Cultural Competence/Humility in Supervision
- Session 5: The Field Instructor as Teacher, Mentor, and Supervisor
- Session 6: Racial Equity in Field Education
See the Collaborative website for more information on these certification sessions.
Field Instructor Resources
Field Instructors are required to complete a midterm and final evaluation of practicum students at their agencies. Please find below instructions for the completion of these evaluations and the corresponding evaluation forms.
|Mid-term Field Instructor Evaluation||Mid-semester Practicum Eval|
|BSW 4800 - First-semester practicum||4800 Final Eval|
|BSW 4850 - Second-semester practicum||4850 Final Eval|
|MSW 5800 - Foundation Field Evaluation||5800 final Eval|
|MSW Family Practice Field Evaluation||Family Practice Final Eval|
|MSW Leadership & Social Change Field Eval||Leadership and Social Change Final Eval|
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