Bertha Rosenstadt Trust

Strengthening Field Education

Field education is the cornerstone of the MSW educational experience – practicum placements provide our students with exceptional learning opportunities. As a Faculty, we
are committed to strengthening the all-important ties we have with partner organizations who offer placements to our students. The Bertha Rosenstadt Trust Fund in Health Research – which is available to our Faculty, as well as to all other Health Sciences Faculties at U of T – is an important way we accomplish this.

For the FIFSW Practicum Office, this fund is a valuable way to secure long-term commitments for MSW student placements, while also promoting cutting edge research in field education. How does it work? An organization agrees to take a pre-negotiated number of practicum students for three consecutive years. In return, the organization receives a three-year grant to conduct research, developed in consultation with our Faculty, that expands social work field education knowledge.

Below are examples of the leading edge research funded from the Bertha Rosenstadt Trust:
(From page 5 of Spring 2013 Reach)

Mount Sinai Hospital

At Mount Sinai Hospital’s social work department, Educational Coordinator Mary-Katherine Lowes and Manager Interprofessional Allied Health Jill Pascoe are leading a study now in its third year which is improving social work students’ job interviewing skills. Students participate in two videotaped simulated interviews and receive feedback. The second interview (with an interprofessional panel) gives students a chance to practise what they have learned.

“We’ve seen such benefit in offering this. It’s one thing to provide feedback,” says Lowes, “another for students to learn by watching themselves on the videotapes which they take home and keep. Witnessing behaviour increases self-reflection. Because of this funding, we are building a tool that may have widespread benefit.”

The Hincks-Dellcrest Centre

At the Hincks-Dellcrest Centre, the fund is being used for a project which aims to help students develop the skills to become more effective family therapists. “The fund is a wonderful way to allow us to build a research base so that we can then apply to do a larger
scale project,” says Ellen Katz, who is directing the research project which is in its first phase. Katz is Assistant Professor Status-Only at the Faculty and Acting Program Supervisor in Outpatients at the Hincks-Dellcrest Centre.

The project’s goal is to develop simulated standardized scenarios that can be used in an exam format to assess students’ abilities as family therapists. Students will be assessed as they conduct family therapy sessions in these simulated scenarios. Trained actors will play family members in the standardized scenarios which will be designed to represent typical family therapy sessions. “This project,” says Katz, “grows out of Marion Bogo’s work that has resulted in the use of simulated standardized scenario exams to assess first year MSW students at the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work. We would not be able to do this kind of research if it wasn’t for the Bertha Rosenstadt Trust Fund in Health Research.”

In 2013-2014, eight organizations received funding from the Bertha Rosenstadt Trust Fund in Health Research:

  1. Centre for Addiction and Mental Health: to support a qualitative improvement research project on social work education. This is the second project CAMH has funded through the Bertha Rosenstadt Trust.
  2. George Hull Centre for Children and Families: to develop a Field Instructor Support Program by building resources that support teaching and supervision. 

  3. Hospital for Sick Children: to support the development, delivery and evaluation of a new MSW elective course. This is the second project the Hospital for Sick Children has funded through the Bertha Rosenstadt Trust.  

  4. Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre: to support a research project, “Social Work Student Education Program” to evaluate the Social Work Student Education Standard while attracting additional field instructors. 

  5. Toronto East General Hospital: to support a research project, “Enhancing the Field Instructors’ Experience.”

  6. Women’s College Hospital: to supprot a research project, “Exploring Arts-Based and Narrative Reflection in Social Work Field Education.” 

  7. Baycrest Health Sciences: to support a student-field instructor collaboration on the creation, implementation and evaluation of an online forum. 

  8. St. Michael’s Hospital: to support an initiative called “An Investigation into the Perceived Burden and Benefit of being an MSW Field Instructor.” 

On February 6, 2015, the FIFSW Practicum Office hosted the Bertha Rosenstadt Trust – FIFSW Showcase to hightlight current research initiatives funded by the Bertha Rosenstadt Trust. To learn more about this event click here.