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Wilfrid Laurier University Leaf
January 31, 2015
Canadian Excellence

MSW Practicum Program

The purpose of the MSW Practicum is to provide students with the opportunity to practice and integrate advanced level social work values, knowledge and skills including the development of a professional “self” and professional identity as a social worker. Emphasis is placed on the experience of direct social work practice with disadvantaged and disenfranchised populations. The practicum is conceptualized as an educational experience rather than a work term. That is, it is a graded course with an agency based MSW instructor assigned to teach each student. The practicum workload is controlled to facilitate this emphasis on learning.

The objective of the practicum program is to ensure the practicum experience reflects the framework of the Faculty of Social Work, the curriculum goals of the MSW program, and provide an opportunity for the student to apply the values, knowledge and skills learned in the classroom. The objectives for the practicum program are set to meet the standards set by the CASWE as outlined in the document “Standards for the Field Education Component of Programs of Social Work Education”.

Practicum Staff

Practicum Coordinator, Melissa Strachan, (519) 884-0710 ext. 5274,
Associate Practicum Coordinator, Nancy Schwindt, (519) 884-0710 ext. 5230,
Practicum Assistant, Caroline Hissa, (519) 884-0710 ext. 5269,

MSW Practicum Objectives

The following specific practicum objectives are applicable. It is understood that the objectives meet the standards of CASWE as outlined in the document "Standards for the Field Education Component of Programmes of Social Work Education".

a)  The practicum experience reflects the conceptual framework of the Faculty of Social Work. b)  The practicum experience reflects the Faculty of Social Work's curriculum goals. The major goal is to permit each intern to develop professional competence in general social work practice with increasing emphasis on selected methods in the latter phase of the MSW program. 
c)  The practicum provides an opportunity for the intern to apply the values, knowledge and skills learned in the classroom.
d)  The practicum setting provides the intern an opportunity to observe and learn from a variety of social work intervention methods and styles of practice. 
e)  The practicum setting is designed to encourage the intern to assume considerable responsibility for his/her own learning and for identifying his/her future career goals. The intern's ability to assume this responsibility will vary and his/her goals can be expected to change during the two year MSW program. The role of the faculty advisor is important in engaging the intern in this process of maximum responsible self-direction.
f)  Interns who have achieved a sound generic practice base in social work are encouraged to develop special areas of interest and skill. This could include concentration in areas such as administration, staff training, government program planning, or specialized practice modalities. 
g)  The practicum setting is encouraged to develop innovative practicum opportunities in a variety of community settings.
h)  The practicum experience is designed to teach the inter-relatedness of individual, family, groups and community concerns. 
i)  The practicum experience facilitates identification with the profession of social work
j)  The practicum experience prepares the intern for continuous and rapid change; to recognize that their capacities to be responsive and adaptive to change will be a major factor in future success in social work. 

Practice Concentrations

Three direct practice concentrations or streams are offered: practice with individuals, families and groups (IFG), community, planning, policy and organizations (CPPO), and integrated (primary focus CPPO or IFG). Incoming interns in the two year program choose their concentration during the foundational Year I fall term. The advanced standing and part-time interns commit to a concentration prior to admission. For information on the concentrations and the type of practicum opportunities available within each concentration please click here: MSW Concentrations

Practicum Agencies: Standards for Approval

Practicum teaching settings will be selected by the Faculty of Social Work's MSW Practicum Coordinator based on the following standards:

>  Clarity and appropriateness of agency purpose and function for an MSW placement;
>  Sound social work practice as reflected in structure, philosophy, administration and service;
>  Providing the student with an opportunity to participate in staff meetings and committees;
>  Flexibility & willingness to provide the student with appropriate learning opportunities;
>  Adequate office space to accommodate interns and sufficient equipment and support services to assure maximum efficiency in
     the preparation of records and reports by interns and practicum instructors;
>  The participation of a practicum instructor with an MSW degree;

>  Providing adequate individual supervision for the student at a minimum of 1.5hrs per week.

    Program Structure

    The Wilfrid Laurier practicum program is as follows (please note that placements during July and August are not possible):

    Intern Status



    First Year

    September to December

    January to June: 82 days, 574 hours
    4 days/week (Tues-Fri) Jan-Apr and 3 days/week (Wed-Fri) Apr-June

    Two concurrent courses (Jan – Apr)
    One concurrent course (Apr – Jun)
    Thesis students – 18 fewer days in placement & three fewer courses.
    Alternative placement timeline and days may not be negotiated.

    Second Year

    January to April

    September to December: 60 days, 420 hours, 4 days/week (Tues-Fri)
    Two concurrent courses.
    Alternative placement timeline and days may not be negotiated. Monday
    placements are not negotiable.

    Second Year - International Practicum 

    January to April 

    September to December: 420 hours, four or five days per week.
    One course in the prior Spring/Summer term.

    Alternative placement timeline and days may not be negotiated. 

    Part-Time 4 Year Program 

    Year One and Year Three 

    Year 2: 82 days, three terms Sept - July
    Thesis students – 18 fewer days in first placement & three fewer courses.
    Student's choose to attend placement two days/week or four days/week. 
    One day placements are not negotiable.
    Year 3: 60 days, two terms Sept- April

    One & five day placements are not negotiable.

    Advanced Standing Full-Time

    September to June: Two days per week (Mon & Tue)

    September to April: 87 days, 609 hours, three days/week (Wed-Fri)
    Thesis students – exempt from Winter term practicum & two fewer courses.
    Alternative placement timeline and days may not be negotiated. Condensed practicum schedule and/or five day placements are not negotiable.

    Advanced Standing Part-Time

    Year One

    Year 2: 87 days Sept. – July
    Thesis students – 45 fewer days in placement & two fewer courses.
    Student's choose to attend placement two days/week or four days/week.  One day placements are not negotiable.

    Intern Practice Assignments

    In the first year practicum period the majority of assignments should be in the student’s area of concentration, (IFG or CPPO). However, they should also have assignments in the other core areas of the curriculum. The assignments in the minor areas could include activities such as speaking to a community group, participation in staff meetings, and participation in agency or community projects. Where possible, interns should have a range of experiences. Integrated interns will have a blend of assignments with the weight being on their primary area of concentration.

    In the second year practicum, the interns’ assignments should be exclusively in their area of concentration. Integrated interns will have a blend as described above filling in gaps from their first practicum. In the advanced standing practicum, assignments should focus on the concentration area and may include aspects of the other modalities determined by intern learning needs, interests and experience.

    The practicum office does not prioritize placements based on students' career interests. Students are provided with opportunities to complete their practicum in diverse settings in order to acquire the necessary tools to work in a variety of social work settings. As such students cannot complete two placements with the same agency. This includes workplace placement opportunities.

    An important aspect of the practicum is that the interns have opportunities to develop their potential. Ideally, they should be encouraged to explore issues of concern to them, initiate programs where appropriate and be creative in their problem solving approaches. Students should be fully engaged in the practice assignments and assume considerable responsibility for their own learning.