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Wilfrid Laurier University Leaf
December 1, 2015

Canadian Excellence

Policies and Procedures Regarding Practicum Students

Time Expectations

Hours (Placement hours do not include breaks):

Placement hours per day for all students†may not exceed 8 placement hours.

Full-time Students:
Students in their first practicum are required to complete 28 hours of placement per week, Tuesday to Friday in the Winter Term, and 21 hours of placement per week Wednesday to Friday in the Spring Term (574 hours over 82 days).

Students in their second practicum are required to complete 28 hours of placement per week Tuesday to Friday in the Fall Term (420 hours over 60 days).

Advanced Standing students are required to complete 21 hours per week, Wednesday to Friday in the Fall & Winter terms (609 hours over 87 days).

Part-time Students:
Students in their first practicum are required to complete 574 hours.

Students in their second practicum are required to complete 420 hours.

Advanced Standing students are required to complete 609 hours.

Part-time students attend placement 2 days/week or 4 days/week. Students inform the Practicum Office of their choice and are placed with an agency that can accommodate a 2 days/week placement or 4 days/week placement. Students are required to attend placement for a minimum of 14 hours of placement time each week and must be spread over a 2 day period. Placement hours per day may not exceed 8 placement hours.

All students are expected to attend placement during regular business hours (i.e. 8:30-4:30pm) as this is the typical timeframe for MSW placements. Evening hours may be†required by some practicum agencies in order to facilitate group programs (i.e. 6-8pm) and students must make arrangements to be at placement during those hours.

Agencies do not offer placements that take place strictly in the evening. It is the student's responsibility to make arrangements to be in attendance at placement during regular business hours.

Weekend hours cannot be expected unless the Practicum Instructor is available to supervise the student, and the agency is open and functional during weekend hours. This option is only available for part-time students and must be vetted by the Practicum Office.

Summer placements during July and August cannot be negotiated.

Public holidays cannot be counted towards a placement. The Practicum Office plans start and end dates for placement around public holidays.

Students interested in joining Faculty Committees should refer to the policy Principles and Guidelines with Respect to Student Time for Participation in Faculty of Social Work for details about practicum time commitments.

Practicum Hours Time Sheets: Students attending practicum are required to submit a Practicum Time Sheet to their Practicum Instructor every two weeks and then submit the up-to-date time sheet to the Practicum Office along with their Midterm and Final Evaluations.

Overtime required in connection with intern practice should follow the usual policy of the agency, but may not accumulate beyond a one month period. The student should arrange with their Practicum Instructor for compensatory time to be taken within four weeks following the accrual of substantial amounts of overtime. Overtime should not be used to shorten the span of the placement.

Reading Week:
Please be advised that as per a policy decision at the Faculty of Social Work Divisional Council meeting on November 20, 1991, MSW students in practicum placement during winter term will be allowed to take Laurierís reading week, or its equivalent, off placement. The following conditions or considerations apply:
>† School board students take March break off instead of not in addition to.
>† Agencies and students may negotiate 4 days off at other times throughout placement as it suits the needs of all concerned.
>† Students may not take the 4 day period at the end of placement as the intention is to maintain the current length of the placement period.

Please Note:
>† Last day of practicum for each cohort is outlined in the placement dates by studentís program (unless a student needs to make-up any missed hours/days).
>† There is no break in practicum between the Winter and Spring terms.
>† Students cannot complete practicum until they have completed all the required hours and days and are expected to make-up any missed practicum hours or days.
>† Students cannot change their days in placement without a formal request and approval from the Practicum Office. Request for changes to the practicum schedule after the start of a placement may not be considered.

Meeting Deadlines:
If you are unable to meet any of the midterm or final evaluation deadlines, please advise the Practicum Office prior to the due date. Delayed submissions impact the grade entry for students and their ability to register for courses in a timely manner.

Absences, Illnesses and Critical Events

Absence from Practicum: Interns are required to contact their Practicum Instructor immediately to report illness or any other situation requiring absence from placement. The Practicum Instructor will inform the Practicum Coordinator of any absences exceeding three consecutive days. Interns DO NOT attend practicum during the Winter Reading Week (four days). Should they wish to attend that week they may negotiate with their Instructor to take other days away.

Illness and Critical Events (serious family difficulties, bereavement):† Interns may be away from placement due to illness, bereavement or critical events for a specified number of days (see below) without being required to make up lost placement time.

Two Year Full-time & Four Year Part-time MSW Program

First practicum (less Reading Week)

82 placement days, 574 hours (thesis interns 64 days)

Eight days† leave (thesis interns six days)

Second practicum†

60 placement days, 420 hours

Five days† leave

Advanced Standing Full-time & Part-time MSW Program

Only practicum (less Reading Week)†

87 placement days, 609 hours (thesis 45 days)

Eight days leave

If the intern is away or is planning to be away from the placement for a week or more, the Practicum Instructor, Field Advisor and the Practicum Coordinator must be notified, by the intern, as soon as possible. These four people will consult and decide upon a plan suitable to the circumstances. Normally, an intern will make up any time off over and above time off allowed critical or health related situations. Overtime accrued before the situation occurred will serve as make-up time.

Thesis Students:† Students who are approved to complete a thesis receive an exemption from a set number of placement days dependent upon which program they are enrolled in.†
Thesis students in the two-year full-time and four-year part-time programs are exempt from last eighteen days of their first practicum. †Thesis students in the advanced standing full time program are exempt from the winter term practicum and students in the advanced standing part-time program are exempt from the last forty-five days of practicum.

Other Absences: †Absence for religious holidays and formal spiritual observances do not require make-up time. Any other absences related to personal events, snow day, etc. must be made up.

Faculty Events & Workshops: Interns who are away from placement for Faculty events such as specialized learning modules or approved conferences, including Faculty Committee work up to 5 hours a month, are not required to make up time in placement. Interns wishing to attend a workshop during practicum time will negotiate that with the Practicum Instructor. The Practicum Instructor ultimately makes a decision on whether the student is required to make up the hours. Normally, if the event is related to the practicum cases or projects, the intern may not be required to make up the time. In other situations negotiation will occur with consideration given to learning and client/community responsibilities. Make-up time will be required as a condition for approval of a request for special leave.

Student Professional Behaviour Concerns

Should the student or Practicum Instructor have any difficulty they should do as follows:

Where a learning difficulty is identified by the student or the instructor, the instructor and the student are encouraged to refer back to the Learning Plan which was developed within the first 4 weeks of placement. The Field Advisor may be involved to clarify any student or instructor concerns.

When the concern is around a student's professional behaviour and/or learning, a meeting is facilitated by the Field Advisor with the student and the Practicum Instructor(s). The Field Advisor initiates an intern-in-difficulty procedure which involves a discussion of the concerns and developing a concrete plan to address the concerns.

Practicum Coordinators are involved in the event these concerns persist and the student's placement is in jeopardy. A review of professional behaviour procedure may be initiated by the Coordinators at this point. This process also occurs when placements are terminated by instructors due to learning/behaviour concerns, and if a student fails their practicum.

Consult the Faculty of Social Work Policy for the Review of Students' Professional Behaviour and†Wilfrid Laurierís
Student Code of Conduct and Discipline.

Policy for MSW Students with Disabilities

Link to Practicum Policy and Protocols for MSW Students with Disabilities.

Students who require academic accommodations for disability-related reasons are encouraged to contact Accessible Learning.† Taking into consideration the studentís consent, Accessible Learning may share the accommodation plan with the Practicum Office.

Taking into consideration the student's accommodation plan with respect to practicum, the Practicum Office coordinates a placement in consultation with the student to ensure that the placement setting can accommodate the needs of the student.

Termination of Placement

Under unique situations, a student's placement may be terminated by the Practicum Instructor or the Practicum Office. The practicum is a course and students cannot terminate a placement. Placement hours from a terminated placement do not carry over.

For a detailed outline of the termination process see:

>† Intern-in-difficulty Procedure
>† Termination Flowchart

Unsatisfactory Evaluation
An 'Unsatisfactory' midterm or final evaluation is considered a fail. In this event, the student has the opportunity to appeal the practicum course grade.† This is treated on a case-by-case basis and the Practicum Office and MSW Associate Dean work with the student to facilitate this process.

Expenses and Remuneration

Expenses incurred by the intern in the placement agency will ordinarily be met by the practicum centre. Normally the internís gas costs for agency business are covered by the practicum centre.† Parking costs are not covered.† Costs for workshops, police record checks, and immunizations (where required) may or may not be covered by the practicum centre.† If not, costs are covered by the intern.† The cost of attending other meetings or conferences called by the Faculty will be borne by the Faculty.

Remuneration: Full-time interns do not receive payment during their practicum and may not charge clients fees other than those that may be usual for the agency to charge.† Part-time interns completing placement in their workplace may negotiate payment with their employer distinct from the Faculty of Social Work.

Vulnerable Sector Record Checks

Most agencies require police record checks, including vulnerable sector checks. There is a cost associated with these checks which is the responsibility of the student to cover. The process can take between 6-10 weeks. All students are highly encouraged to apply for their police check at least 10-12 weeks prior to the start of placements. The Practicum Office cannot confirm whether your placement will require a Vulnerable Sector Police Check. The Practicum Office will send a memo to all students regarding police checks at least three months prior to the start of placement.

Additional Agency Requirements

Some agencies may require additional requirements such as: agency applications, orientation, updated immunizations and records.† These requirements must be met by the intern before the start of practicum. These requirements are normally stated on the portal for each placement opportunity, and agencies also inform students of these requirements prior to or during the interview.

Worker's Compensation Coverage

By law, Wilfrid Laurier University is responsible for registered interns in the event of an unpaid workplace injury. All social work interns in this program who are involved in an unpaid practicum and are placed in a setting registered with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board are covered by that Act. In the event of placement related injury or illness interns may be eligible for benefits related to uninsured health costs and in some cases lost pay. Interns who are in settings not registered with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board are covered by an insurance plan paid for by the Province of Ontario.

In the event of a placement related injury or illness, or the possibility of a placement related injury or illness, interns and Practicum Instructors are advised to consult with the Practicum Coordinator. The time frame for claims is very short and stringent so immediate action is required.

This benefit to interns is at no cost to agencies and will not impact on their risk assessments with WSIB.

Liability Insurance

Wilfrid Laurier University provides general liability coverage for interns on practicum assignment. This policy covers bodily injury, property damage and malpractice liability.