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Field Education, Master of Social Work

Student Testimonial

sara mcmanus headshot

Sara McManus

"I interned with Social Work Counseling Services (SWCS ) at Widener Partnership Charter School for my first-year field placement, and I could not have asked for a better experience. I am so thankful for the support I received from my supervisors and fellow interns, the smiles of my second and third grade students, and the skills I gained as a clinician."

The Council on Social Work Education identifies field work as the signature pedagogy of a social work education. In field placements, students have the opportunity to apply classroom learning with agency-based social work practice opportunities. This learning takes place under the direction and supervision of a trained field instructor who is employed by the agency and skilled in working with students.

Field education is an important component of the social work experience at Widener. It is the place where students can apply the social work knowledge learned in the classroom to direct practice experiences with clients under the guidance and supervision of experienced social workers. 

The online MSW program also requires a fieldwork practicum.

Requirements

Foundation Year

The first field experience provides students an opportunity to engage in generalist social work practice with individuals, families, groups, and communities. Students will hone their generalist practice skills through intakes and assessments, problem solving, and developing intervention strategies. They have the opportunity to engage clients with a variety of social work roles, including case manager, advocate, broker, and counselor.

Students are in the field and their concurrent practice class for both the fall and spring semesters. Students are required to spend 16 hours each week at the placement site for a total of 480 hours for the academic year.

Concentration Year

The second year of field focuses on expanding the student’s clinical skills developed during the foundation year. Students are able to apply the theoretical knowledge gained in the classroom in their clinical assessments and evaluations, interventions, and treatment. The advanced clinical practice sequence enables students to develop therapeutic skills with a focus on treating the trauma that clients have experienced while consolidating their own professional identity as a clinical social worker.

The concentration placement is typically three days each week for the fall and spring semesters for a total of 720 hours for the academic year. Students are concurrently in their clinical practice classes during which they engage in a bi-weekly field discussion. Students have the option of completing their field work over three semesters instead of two by engaging in the extended field placement for 16 hours each week and extending the field seminar through the summer semester.

Worksite-Based Field Options

Occasionally a student may be able to fulfill the field requirements of the program through his or her place of employment. As part of the individualized field planning, the field director will work with the student and the agency to develop a field plan that clearly differentiates the student’s field placement from the job responsibilities. For more information see the MSW Graduate Student Manual.

Sample Placement Options

Because of Widener’s location as a metropolitan university, many agencies are available to our students. Below is a small sample of some recent field placements.

Social Work Counseling Services (SWCS)

SWCS was created in 2000 as a university and community partnership dedicated to improving the quality of life for Chester residents by providing human services that are responsive to the needs of the community. The clinics provide quality internship experiences that produce competent and caring social workers committed to serving disadvantaged populations and communities. 

Clinical Services for Vulnerable Adults

­Clinical Services for Vulnerable Adults (CSVA) was created in 2013 to increase the number of social workers serving the vulnerable adult population. We emphasize people who are vulnerable, for example, people with intellectual and developmental disability (IDD), people who are at risk of being homeless, as well as their families, caregivers, friends, supporters, staff, and anyone else who is important to their well being. Services are free of charge and include individual, family, group, and couples therapy, as well as agency training.

Children and Youth Services of Delaware County

The Delaware County Division of Children and Youth Services helps children and their families to identify and resolve neglect and abuse issues. Students also have the opportunity to interface with the courts and many other community agencies. Widener social work students are eligible for the Pennsylvania Child Welfare Education for Leadership program that provides financial support for students interested in a career in public child welfare.

Elwyn Institute

Elwyn is a nationally renowned program that assists people with developmental disabilities, mental illness, social and economic disadvantages, as well as the elderly and children with behavioral problems. Students have been placed in the school-based services and in a unit working directly with clients providing case management and counseling. 

Joseph J. Peters Institute

JJPI is a nonprofit mental health agency providing outpatient assessment and treatment services in the area of sexual abuse. The program began with the pioneering work of psychiatrist Joseph J. Peters, MD, in 1955, and was one of the country's first initiatives in the treatment of sexual abuse. Over the years, the organization has continued to evolve and now holds a national reputation for its work in assessment, treatment, prevention, and education related to sexual abuse.

Crozer Keystone Community Hospital

Crozer Keystone Community Hospital is a not-for-profit community hospital that coordinates a full range of outpatient behavioral and community health services, as well as primary care. The hospital is a central and convenient place for area families to come for all of their social service needs and partners with more than 20 local organizations, including the Chester Youth Collaborative, Chester Education Foundation, the Chester Housing Authority, and ChesPenn Health Services.