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Frequently Asked Questions by Students

Practicum

Where do I find information about the practicum courses – Year 1 SWK4701H and Year 2/Advanced Standing SWK4702Y?

Information about time expectations, special requirements, a description of the interview/practicum matching process, practicum schedules, evaluation details and other practicum-related information can be found in the Practicum Manual on the Practicum website. You can also access templates of the Learning Contract and pdf versions of the online practicum evaluation tool.

What is the Practicum Administration System (PAS)?

The PAS is an online database which uses an algorithm to match students with interviews and practicums based on student selections from the available opportunities. Each student has a profile on the PAS. Students use the PAS to view descriptions of available practicums, make their interview selections, view finalized practicum assignments and submit their self-evaluation. Field instructors use the PAS to provide information about their practicum, view assigned student names, and submit evaluations.

Can I find my own practicum placement?

Students are asked NOT to contact the Partner Organizations listed on the FIFSW website because the Practicum Office has developed partnerships with these agencies. Contravening an organization’s protocol may ultimately jeopardize the FIFSW’s relationship, and this may impact future opportunities for students to complete practicums at this site.
Students who identify an opportunity that is not on our Partner Organization list may contact the Practicum Office to discuss.

It is the responsibility of the Practicum Office to secure practicum opportunities that meet accreditation standards as set out by the Canadian Association for Social Work Education.

I reviewed your Partner Organizations on the FIFSW website. Why is it that I do not see a particular practicum in this year’s options?

An organization may be unable to offer a practicum in a given academic year due to organizational restructuring, space limitations, a lack of field instructors, funding cuts, commitment to other academic programs, etc. The FIFSW cannot guarantee the availability of any practicum site or opportunity from year to year.

How do I ensure that I will be assigned to a specific practicum/organization?

The FIFSW cannot guarantee a specific practicum. The Practicum Office is dedicated to securing practicums that will provide students with social work competencies and foundations, which will be transferable to many organizations. Year 1 students are permitted to trade practicum assignments before any contact with the field instructor is made.

Can I ensure that I am placed in a hospital setting?

The FIFSW cannot guarantee a specific practicum. The Practicum Office is dedicated to securing practicums that will provide students with opportunities to develop social work competencies, which will be transferable to many organizations. Hospital settings are popular with students and therefore not all requests for a hospital practicum can be met.

Can I complete both of my practicums at CAMH? Mount Sinai? SickKids?

To ensure as many students as possible have an opportunity to complete a field practicum at specific sites, a number of practicum partners have indicated that social work students in the two-year MSW program are limited to ONE practicum at their agency. These include:
• Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)
• Mount Sinai Hospital
• SickKids – The Hospital for Sick Children

Do you always have a practicum for every student?

Yes. The FIFSW is committed to securing practicums for all students.

What happens if I don’t get an interview at one of my choices?

Some practicums are extremely popular. As a result, some students may not be assigned for an interview at one of their selections. You will have the opportunity to select other potential practicum settings for an interview. The Practicum Office works with every student until a final practicum assignment is confirmed.

Are all practicums reserved for FIFSW students?

Some practicum opportunities are available to students of different disciplines and / or schools of social work. Interviews may take place on a different schedule than that of FIFSW. The Practicum Office posts these “competitions” on the FIFSW website with details on how FIFSW students may apply.

Do you offer practicums outside of Toronto?

Yes. Although most practicums are Toronto-based, there are some options outside the GTA. The Practicum Office has approved these practicums and the list of out-of-town practicums is on the website. The locations of out-of-town practicums are indicated in the title. The interview matching process is the same as for Toronto practicums.
The FIFSW has partnerships with three international Social Work schools: Hebrew University (Israel) and Melbourne University (Australia) and the University of Edinburgh (Scotland). Information and an application is on the FIFSW website.

Can I trade practicums with a classmate after I have been assigned?

In Year 1, students may trade practicums before any contact with field instructors is made. Contact the Practicum Office to make a trade.
In Year 2/Advanced Standing, practicum trades are not permitted.

I was confirmed to start practicum at a particular organization, and it is now cancelled. What happened?

Occasionally organizations withdraw their availability because of restructuring in the organization, the resignation/illness/position change of a field instructor, etc. Should a practicum be withdrawn, the Practicum Office will work with students to find an alternate practicum.

Why is my work/volunteer experience not considered when I am matched for an interview?

The FIFSW acknowledges that many students bring a wealth of personal/volunteer/work experience. The social work practicum will provide students with transferable social work skills and universal competencies for social work practice with diverse client systems, integrating social work theory with practice.

What is an FFL?

Your assigned FFL, or Faculty Field Liaison, is your “go-to person” during your practicum. The FFL bridges your practicum with your work at the Faculty. As well as being available to support your success and for questions and consultation, your FFL is available to discuss concerns and challenges in your practicum. The FFL also provides support for the field instructor and education coordinator.

How can I give feedback about practicum-related issues?

Your feedback is important to us. Students and field instructors have several avenues to provide feedback about the practicum course. These include:
• Practicum Advisory Committee (PAC); (contact the GSA to become a rep, or the Practicum Office for the meeting schedule)
• Ad hoc committees to address issues / projects arising
• Practicum Information Sessions
• Year 1 Monday noon-hour drop-in (after Practicum Information Sessions to end of December)
• Year 1 Forum (4 weeks after Year 1 practicum commences)
• Year 2/Advanced standing Forum (4 weeks after Year 2 practicum commences)
• Open door policy in Practicum Office – 4th Floor
• Dean, Assistant Dean Field Education, Associate Dean Academic
• Field Instructor(s)
• Education Coordinator
• Faculty-Field Liaison (FFL)
• Online FFL / student meeting feedback form (after each meeting)
• Online practicum exit feedback form (end of practicum)

How do I become a Field Instructor?

All students are encouraged to be a field instructor after graduation. Students are asked to:
• provide their personal e-mail address to the Practicum Office with the intention that they will be e-mailed an invitation to be a field instructor in the future
• attend the annual February noon-hour Panel of Field Instructors to have their questions answered.
• view two videos about becoming a field instructor: Rob McFadden videoBlair Audet video

Is it necessary that my practicum complies with my declared field of study?

As stated in the Program Description booklet, and on the FIFSW website Program Description, Practicum II “must comply with the student’s declared field of study”. Course instructors may design assignments to integrate with the field experience. Field instructors expect that the theory obtained in your courses will be applied in the practicum. One of the six competency domains on which students are evaluated is “Conceptualizing Practice”.

Am I required to have a police check done for my practicum?

Agencies that offer a practicum(s) will likely require a current Vulnerable Persons Criminal Record check prior to commencing the Practicum. Failure to pass this check may jeopardize your entry to practicum.
There is a cost and time factor associated with the Vulnerable Persons Criminal Record check. A delay in obtaining the results can impact the start time of your practicum. The agency determines how current the results need to be.
In anticipation of this requirement for your practicum, it is strongly recommended that you begin this process early. (For information about a vulnerable sector reference, including recent changes, see the Toronto Police website.