I am asking for your wisdom about Faculty carrying a dual role as an Agency Field Instructor. What experiences and insights do you have about this dual role situation? Do you allow a Faculty to be an Agency Field Instructor simultaneously?
Hi Rhonda, we do sometimes have faculty in the role of field instructor, most often as an external field instructor where there is no social worker in the agency, but sometimes if the faculty member is more involved in the placement setting they may be the field instructor. We do not allow the faculty member to be both the field instructor and the field liaison who teaches the student's field seminar course. We have found that it is best for there to be two separate people in these roles to ensure the student is getting support from both the agency and academic perspective.
I am a faculty member who has, for the last two years, served as a field instructor. Similar to what Lindsey wrote, I had a relationship with the agency and helped to open the site. Because the agency did not have a social worker on staff, I offered to serve as a "pool" field instructor. I work closely with a task supervisor at the agency, who provides the day-to-day oversight of the student. I meet with the student one hour a week for 1:1 supervision, in addition to supporting other tasks as needed. The task supervisor and I collaborate together on administrative activities, like reviewing learning plans, conducting evaluations, signing-off on time logs, etc.
For me, this has been an excellent way of staying connected to the field and maintaining strong community partnerships. It has felt like a truly mutually beneficial relationship. There are, of course, challenges that arise that need to be navigated - but, fortunately, I have a good working relationship with the task supervisor and my colleagues in the field office that have helped me in these situations.
My Chair is aware of this work, which I think is critical in case issues do arise or if - say - the work extends beyond the typical academic calendar. I think building buy-in is essential, as is having policies and procedures in place that can inform these types of roles ... as is thinking through how/if this work is "counted" for faculty. I will note that I am not compensated for this particular role per say, but I do count it within my teaching and largely within my service for things like promotion and tenure. It has also given me the opportunity to attend some of our field-related events, which often come with CEUs that help me to maintain my license.
Oh, and I almost forgot ... I actually did serve as a field instructor / interim director of our HPPAE program for six students for approximately one semester. Given the scope of this role, I was given a one course release. And, in that particular role, I did have to navigate dual roles - as I was both a field instructor to these students but also a faculty for one of their MSW courses. With each student, we discussed these dual roles and boundaries within supervision very early on. And we collectively made efforts to not discuss course work when in supervision ... and then to keep our relationship respective of internship separate in the classroom. And, I think it worked well --- but that initial conversation and commitment to upholding strong boundaries across different settings was key.
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