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GSSWGraduate School of Social Work

Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions about Field Education

What is the difference between foundation and concentration-year internships?
Foundation-year internships are generalist in nature and focus on core social work competencies. Foundation-year students work with a variety of client systems. Concentration-year internships focus on competencies required for more advanced social work practice within the student's academic concentration and, if applicable, certificate program. Students with advanced standing enter directly into a concentration-year internship after one quarter of academic courses.

How many total hours are required for an internship?
Foundation-year students spend a minimum of 480 hours in an internship over three academic quarters, or an average of 16 hours per week for 30 weeks for students in the Denver, Four Corners and Western Colorado programs. Most students in the Online program will be in their Foundation year internship for 12 hours per week for 40 weeks. Concentration-year students (including students with advanced standing) spend a minimum of 600 hours in an internship over three academic quarters, or an average of 20 hours per week for 30 weeks, for students in our Denver, Four Corners, and Western Colorado programs. Most students in the Online program will be in their Concentration year internship for 15 hours per week for 40 weeks. Some concentration- year internships may require students to be in field more than this number of hours per week. Detailed information may be found in the "Field Dates, Hours and Credits" section of the Field Manual. No student may be in field for fewer than 12 hours per week at any given time.

Do students change internship sites each quarter?
It is the expectation that students spend their entire academic year at one internship site. Students completing two years of internship must do so in two separate agencies.

Can students receive field credit for past work experience?
No, students cannot receive field credit for past experience. The accreditation standards of the Council on Social Work Education state that academic credit for life experience and previous work experience shall not be given, in whole or in part, in lieu of the field internship or courses in the professional foundation areas.

Selecting an Internship

How do I obtain an internship?
Students attending GSSW are not assigned internships. They have a choice for both foundation-year and concentration-year internships.

DENVER PROGRAM:
• Foundation-year students work closely with a Field Coordinator to determine agencies with which to interview. Students and agencies interview each other.
• Concentration-year students, during the winter quarter of their foundation year, attend an on-campus Field Fair, where up to 150 agencies participate, where students meet with agency representatives to begin selecting their concentration-year internships. These students also have access to the GSSW field agency database that lists all agencies offering internships.
• Students with advanced standing work closely with a Field Coordinator to determine approved agencies with which to interview. They may also access the GSSW field agency database to identify potential agencies of interest.

FOUR CORNERS PROGRAM:
• Liaisons meet with students and discuss interests, career goals and experience.
• The internship is secured if the agency, student and liaison agree that it is a good fit.

WESTERN COLORADO PROGRAM:
• Students work directly with the program director to find an internship based upon interests, career goals and experience. In working with the program director, students will receive contact information for an agency/agencies that may be a match. Students then arrange interview(s) with identified potential agencies.

ONLINE PROGRAM:
• Students work with a member of the online field education team in the "Intro to Graduate Internship" course during their first quarter in the program to identify possible internship agencies in their local community.
• Students interview at agencies once the agency has been approved by a member of the online field education team.
• The internship is secured if both the student and agency agree that it is a good fit.
In all cases, when a match is made, the agencies contact students to offer them an internship. Students either accept or decline the offer. If a match is not made, students continue to interview until they find a suitable placement.

Do I have to be living in, or visiting, Colorado to find an internship?
Since GSSW students choose their internships for both their foundation and concentration years, they need to interview with potential agencies. While students who are in Colorado conduct these interviews in person, telephone interviews or other electronic types of communication can sometimes be arranged for students who cannot interview in person. However, it is to the student's advantage to arrange a time to interview in person if at all possible.

Students in the Online program will not have to live in or visit Colorado at any time, as their internships will generally take place in their local communities.

Can I complete my internship in my place of employment?
Students interested in a work placement must submit a Request for Internship in Place of Employment form to the Assistant Dean for Field Education (or designee). Submitting the required form does not guarantee approval of the request.

Two-year MSW students must typically complete one of their two field internships in an agency other than their place of employment. Students must have been in their place of employment for a minimum of six months and must have an MSW internship supervisor other than their employment supervisor. The internship must provide the student with experiences that are distinctly different from the student's regular job responsibilities.

I have been offered an internship. Now what?
Within one week of securing a field internship, students should submit a Field Confirmation Form online. This form provides official documentation for student records and is required for field internship course registration. Students will not receive academic credit for an internship until this form is submitted. Once the form is submitted, students should verify that the field registration process is complete by checking their online registration form on PioneerWeb.

Are students required to have background checks prior to beginning their internships?
Many agencies require background checks before a student is accepted for, and/or allowed to begin, an internship. If an agency requires any type of background check and/or medical testing, the agency should notify the intern of these requirements during the interview process. Each agency determines the criteria for passing or failing a background check, and communicates this directly to the student. Conducting background checks is the responsibility of the agency. If an agency is not able to pay for these additional requirements, payment is the responsibility of the student.

Finding Forms and Resources

Where can I find student forms online?
All field-related forms and resources are available for students online and can be accessed from the GSSW Student Resources Portfolio page at: http://portfolio.du.edu/gsswstudentresources.

If you need help finding or completing forms, please contact the Field Office at 303-871-2844 or field@du.edu.

Field Supervision

What are supervision requirements for an internship?
All students must be supervised by an MSW from an accredited school of social work who has at least 2 years of post-graduate professional social work experience. Some students are also supervised by a Task Supervisor who must have an advanced degree or a level of experience in the field that allows for supervision of a masters level student. Foundation-year students receive the equivalent of at least 1.5 hours of supervision per week, and concentration-year students receive the equivalent of at least 1 hour per week. If a student has both an MSW supervisor and a task supervisor, then a supervision schedule is worked out between the supervisors. It is recommended, but not required, that field supervisors for concentration-year clinically-focused students be Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW).

What is the difference between a field supervisor, field instructor, task supervisor, field liaison and field coordinator?
Field Supervisors, Field Instructors and Task Supervisors all provide supervision to students. A Field Supervisor is an agency staff member who provides weekly supervision to the student intern. All students must be supervised by an MSW Supervisor (Field Instructor) who has an MSW degree from an accredited school of social work and typically has a minimum of two years post-graduate professional social work experience. In addition some students have a Field Supervisor (Task Supervisor) who has an advanced degree or a level of experience in the field that allows for supervision of a masters level student.

A Field Liaison provides a link between GSSW, the student and the internship agency. Field Liaisons meet jointly with the student and field supervisors typically once per quarter to discuss progress made toward completing internship assignments. Field Liaisons are also available to the student and the agency for problem resolution. Field Liaisons are either experienced MSWs from the community or GSSW faculty members.

Field Coordinators are members of the GSSW faculty and the Field Education Team. They work directly with students and agencies in the internship placement process.

How does an agency become an approved internship site?
Agencies begin the process of becoming an approved internship site by submitting the Agency Information Form (AIF) online. This generates a visit from a Field Coordinator, during which time learning opportunities, supervision requirements, non-discrimination policies and other matters are discussed. The approval process is formalized through a written agreement with GSSW's Field Education Program.

What if an agency does not have an MSW on site?
Agencies without an MSW must have an on-site Task Supervisor who has an advanced degree or a level of experience in the field that allows for supervision of a masters level student. Agencies without an on-site MSW must identify an off-site individual with an MSW to provide the field instruction in addition to the supervision students receive from the on-site supervisor. It is optimal for the off-site MSW to be familiar with the agency's mission and work.

What determines a student's tasks and learning opportunities in an internship?
Each student, in conjunction with the field supervisor, completes an Individualized Field Education Plan (IFEP) which is reviewed and updated each quarter of the internship. The IFEP addresses all of the competencies, practice behaviors, learning activities, methods of measurement and evaluation for each internship year.

Download the IFEP for the foundation year (DOC) and the IFEP for the concentration year (DOC).

When and why should students contact their assigned field liaison?
Field Liaisons typically contact students and field supervisors during the first three weeks of the internship to set up a schedule for site visits. Throughout the year, students should contact their field liaison if they have questions or concerns regarding the internship, including work load, supervision, Individualized Field Education Plans (IFEPs), quarterly field evaluations or the integration of classroom assignments and the field internship.

When and why should Field Supervisors contact their assigned field liaison?
Throughout the year, field supervisors should contact their field liaison if they have questions or concerns about their students, Individualized Field Education Plans (IFEPs), quarterly field evaluations, or the integration of classroom assignments and the field internship.

What happens if problems arise during an internship?
Problems that arise during an internship are first addressed between the field supervisor and the student. The field liaison is available for problem resolution as needed. If problems cannot be resolved between the student, the field liaison and the field supervisor, a Student Review hearing may be called. Detailed information can also be found in the "Field Problems and Resolution" and "Student Review" sections. If problems arise related to an agency or a supervisor the Agency Problem Resolution Process is followed.

Can students request to change internships during the year?
Any decisions about changing internships must be made by the field liaison, the field supervisor, the Field Education Program, and the student. Students must follow the process outlined in the Proposal to Change Internship. Detailed information can also be found in the "Field Problems and Resolution" section of the Field Manual.

Scheduling

Can students begin internships prior to the official start date?
Agencies sometimes request that students begin their internships earlier than the official GSSW start date, due to specific program needs. An agency or student wishing to begin an internship prior to the official start date set by GSSW must email a request, stating the desired start date, to the Field Office at field@du.edu.

When are students in field?
Foundation-year students are typically in field for 16 hours per week on Mondays and Tuesdays and sometimes Wednesdays. Concentration-year students (including students with advanced standing) are generally at their internships 20-24 hours per week on Wednesdays, Thursdays and
Fridays. Students typically attend classes on the days they are not in field. No student may be in field for fewer than 12 hours per week at any given time.

In the Online program, students will be in field on days and times that are mutually agreed upon between the student, the Field Coordinator, and the agency. Students in this program are in their Foundation-year internship for 12 hours per week for 40 weeks. Concentration-year students are in their internship for 15 hours per week for 40 weeks

Can an internship take place during evening and weekend hours?
Students need to be at their internship during normal agency business hours and during times when their field supervisor is available. These conditions do not usually allow students to do their entire internship during evening or weekend hours although it might be possible to complete some hours during these times. Students wishing to intern during evening and/or weekend hours must discuss their request with a field coordinator and potential internship sites.

What are the policies regarding University holidays, sick days and vacation days during an internship? GSSW does not require students to be at their internships during holidays officially observed by the University of Denver, except during fall quarter when students are expected to be at their internships into December (see the GSSW academic calendar for official dates). Agencies, however, may require that students be at their internships during University holidays, and this requirement may supersede GSSW's holiday policy. The agency should communicate this to students during the internship interview process. Students needing to take additional time off during their internships must discuss their requests with their field supervisor. See "Religious Accommodation Policy" for additional information. Students who are called to jury duty while in internship need to discuss their hours with their supervisor.

Transportation

Does a student need a car for an internship?
Many internships require that students have cars to carry out assignments such as home visits, outreach and community work. In addition, some internships are located in areas that are underserved by public transportation. Therefore, students without cars may need to choose internships that are close to their homes, are available by public transportation or that do not require the use of a car to carry out assigned tasks.

Can students drive clients?  Interns shall be responsible for transportation to and from the internship site. Interns should not drive clients unless the agency specifies to the intern such requirement as part of the essential duties of the internship. It is the responsibility of the agency to specify to interns whether or not interns shall drive as a part of their essential duties within their internships and to manage any such driving requirements with the interns. Interns are advised that internships requiring driving as an essential duty may require submission to a Motor Vehicles Records check, notification of their insurance carrier of use of their vehicle within the internship, and compliance with driving policies of the agency. University of Denver shall not be responsible for managing any requirements for transportation or driving as part of internships and shall not maintain insurance for interns driving as part of the essential duties of the internship.

Any accidents involving a GSSW student while participating in an internship should be reported to the GSSW Field Office (field@du.edu or 303-871-2844) and Campus Safety (303-871-2334) for appropriate reporting within the University of Denver.