Good afternoon Field Directors across the Nation!
Marist College here in Poughkeepsie New York, has an in-person BSW program. I am the Field Coordinator for this program. We are in the process of starting an online MSW program in a year's time. We believe that the Field Director can be the same person for both programs, as per CSWE accreditation standards. That said, can one person realistically oversee both field programs, particularly given one is in-person and the other program is online? What are your thoughts? As always, your responses are greatly valued. Thank you, Katharine
According to the new 2022 CSWE EPAS, universities with BSW & MSW programs can have the same field education director for both programs:
4.3.5(a) The program has a field education director who administers all program options. The field education director has a full-time appointment to social work. Institutions with accredited baccalaureate and master's social work programs may have the same field education director appointed to both programs.
The program identifies the field education director, who administers all program options.
The program provides documentation that the field education director has a full-time appointment to social work.
Institutions with both accredited baccalaureate and master's social work programs identify the field education director for each program.
Andrea, thank you so much for your thoughtful response! I wonder if you yourself, manage dual roles as a field director, and if so, how does this work from your perspective? Thank you again for your time and efforts. Katharine
I am the Director of Field for both MSW and BSW programs. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to chat.
This might fall under the category of just because you can, doesn't necessarily mean you should. We just finished the first year of a new MSW program. I was the BSW Field Ed Director for the previous 7 years and thought I could manage it and start the MSW field program. Honestly, it has been a brutal year. It might have been different if we had slowly ramped up, but we had 39 students enrolled for our first semester of the MSW program and the structures that had been built around the BSW program were deficient for handling the complexities of the MSW side of things. I do think that maintenance would be different and could see a single person directing both BSW and MSW programs when both are established. But there are so many moving parts that, no matter how prepared you think you are, are unexpected.
Myke, thank you for your honest response about the challenges of managing both programs. I wish you a restful and restorative summer. Katharine
Hi Katharine, I think this is a great question and it is really interesting to see the wide range of how different schools structure the staffing of their field offices. I am the field director at West Virginia University. We have a BSW program and an MSW online and on campus program. As the director, I oversee all of our field education programs, however we have 2 field coordinators who do the bulk of the placements. I oversee our processes, am on most of our school's administrative committees so am involved in our policies and curriculums, I am involved in all of our field education scenarios that become more problematic, and we all teach field seminar courses. Our field coordinators have their work divided between our online program and our on campus program, so one coordinator does the placements for online students and the other coordinator does placement for on campus BSW and MSW students. We have approximately 200 students in field each year with a pretty even split between our online students and campus based students.
I will say this is the system that somewhat developed over the years, we began our online program about 4 years ago which resulted in hiring an online coordinator. At that time, we had a different field director and I was hired as the online coordinator, we have since shifted a bit and are continuing to evaluate our systems but this division is working fairly well for the time being!
Lindsey, your response is enormously helpful and appreciated! I hope to return the favor in the near future. Thank you and have a restful summer. Katharine
I am the Field Director for our BSW and MSW programs. Our BSW program is small currently (around 200 students, with about 40 in field each year) and our MSW program is larger with about 250-275 students in field each year. We just launced a small (20 student) online MSW cohort, but we are requiring that their placements be within our state currently. I have a full-time field education administrative assistant and 3 full-time field placement specialists who do the majority of student placements. Similar to Lindsey, I have a more administrative, programming, planning, problem solving role. I manage all high level student field problems and also teach an MSW field seminar. I think it is only manageable becuase I have such a robust team to support the student placement work. I will say, it seems like every other year I lose a field specialist and am rehiring, so often I end up taking on a caseload of students to place while doing all of my other work and the hiring and training process and it's a LOT at those times. When we're fully staffed and everyone is trained, things are much easier, but I know that only seems to last a short time unfortunately. I think if you are starting a new program, now is the time to ask for adequate resources to grow the program because we all know how easy it is to take on more and more and more until it becomes impossible/miserable and how difficult it is to get resources allocated after the fact!
I am finding this discussion so incredibly helpful as we are starting our MSW program this fall and have to make some of these staffing decisions. I am curious about how many seminar classes you and your field education staff teach--and do you also conduct the advising or are there other MSW staff or professors that take on that role? Thanks so much!
Myself and the 3 fulltime placement specialists each teach one section of practicum seminar on top of our regular roles. We are all in administrative staff positions and not full time faculty, so we teach our seminars as adjunct faculty and are compensated separately for that. We also have many other adjuncts who teach practicum seminar and whom I oversee in my role as Director. Our seminars are typically capped at 9 students or less so we run a lot of sections each semester. Our placement specialists conduct planning and match related practicum advising. The adjuncts who teach seminars (we call them faculty field liaisons for now, need to devise a new title to replace the "field") conduct the ongoing practicum support throughout the placement. Academic faculty do all academic and program advising, which is completely separate from my department. I hope this helps and isn't too confusing!
Molly, again, thank you for your wonderful reply! Your thoughts are incredibly helpful. Katharine
It's a heavy lift depending on the potential growth expected for the program. Both are nuanced in the ways you attend to student learning and prepare agencies. If an option, I'd say hire someone for one of those arduous positions and share the load.
Best, Warren Graham, Asst Dean of Practicum Education
Warren, great response! I agree, you need a team to make this plan work. One person overseeing a team can work, but as you rightly point out, the implementation of any new program is arduous and burnout of field directors is an important issue to consider. Thank you again for taking the time to respond. Katharine
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