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Wilfrid Laurier University Leaf
June 30, 2016

Canadian Excellence

Policies and Procedures Regarding Practicum Students




Time Expectations


Full-time Students
First placement: 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).

Second fall placement: 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).

Second summer placement: Students completing their second practicum over the summer term are required to adhere to the placement structure provided by the Practicum Office. Students are expected to complete 420 hours within the start and end dates provided.

Advanced standing placement: 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.


Absences, Illnesses and Critical Events

Absence from Practicum:

Process for Reporting: Interns are required to communicate absences to the Practicum Instructor immediately, as per the agency policies (e.g. reporting absence no later than official start time of placement day) to report illness or any other situation requiring absence from placement. The student is expected inform the MSW Practicum Coordinator and assigned Field Advisor of any absences exceeding three consecutive days.


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.

Students who are absent for reasons not related to illness, critical events, or religious holidays (e.g. snow day), must make up the time missed.

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.

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.


Absences due to Faculty & University events


Attending Faculty/Community Meetings or Events

Faculty Committee Meetings: Students who are involved in Faculty committees are allowed up to five hours a month to engage in formal Faculty committee work. This must be negotiated with the Practicum Instructor with appropriate notice given to the Instructor.

Faculty Events: Interns who are away from placement for Practicum Practice Clinics, Equity Forum, and Holistic Healing Conference, will not be required to make up time in placement as these are considered essential learning components of the MSW program. Interns are expected to share these dates with Instructors at the start of the placement term.

Community Events: An intern who wishes to be away to attend a workshop or conference in the community will negotiate that with the practicum instructor. Make-up time will be required as a condition for approval of a request for special leave.

Professional Development:Students wishing to attend a workshop during practicum time will negotiate that directly with their Practicum Instructor. Time to attend workshops must be approved by the Practicum Instructor and students are required to make up missed time through approved overtime or an extension of their placement.

Reading week

On January 13, 2014 the Wilfrid Laurier University Senate approved the addition of a week-long break to the Fall Term Ė in addition to the existing February Reading Week - as a three-year pilot project. Beginning Fall 2014, Laurier students will get a full week off in both the Fall and Winter semesters.

Since this is a pilot project offered by the University, we do not currently have an official approved policy regarding practicum during the Fall Reading Week from the Faculty of Social Work. As a result, we have decided to give students the option to choose how they would like to spend this week in October. Students in placement during this time can choose to either:

  • >Take the week off and then make up that those days at the end of their placement, or
  • >Not take the week off placement and continue on as per usual.

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 winter reading week, or its equivalent, off placement. The following conditions or considerations apply:

  • >School board and students completing placement in a university setting take March break or Intersession week off instead of not in addition to Laurierís reading week.
  • >Agencies and students may negotiate 4 days off at other times throughout placement as it suits the needs of all concerned.

Documenting Hours & Overtime


Expectations Regarding Placement Hours

Placement hours do not include break time.

Students cannot complete practicum until they have completed all the required hours for their practicum course.

Students cannot change their start or end dates without approval from the Practicum Office.

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

Documenting Hours

Students are expected to utilize the Practicum Hours Timesheet to document their hours. Time Sheets are submitted to the Instructors, Advisors, and Practicum office, alongside the mid-term and final evaluation by students. The Time Sheet and Mid-term/Final Evaluation are required to enter a Practicum Course grade on LORIS.

Lunch time

Lunch or break time does not count towards the practicum hours, i.e., if a student is scheduled to attend placement between 9 am and 5 pm (8 hours) and the agency requires a one hour lunch break, the student can only account for 7 practicum hours per day.

Over time

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 Practicum Instructor should arrange for compensatory time to be taken within four weeks following the accrual of substantial amounts of overtime. Overtime can be used to shorten the span of the placement only in the following circumstances:

Documented critical event that require the student to complete placement early. This can be done with the Instructors approval and in consultation with the Field Advisor and Practicum Office. The Practicum Office considers these cases individually to assess the student's completed hours.

If the student has taken the required steps with the Practicum Office to complete a summer placement (2nd placement) and the Instructor approves of ending the placement in time for the beginning of the summer placement in June.

Ending Placement Early

Agencies provide placement opportunities taking into consideration the length of time a student will be in placement. Placements cannot end early and Overtime cannot be used to shorten the length of a placement except in the two aforementioned instances.

Changing Placement Timelines

Placements cannot start prior to the approved placement start date, and cannot be extended after the approved placement end date without approval. Students who wish to alter their placement schedules need to submit a formal request to the Practicum Office. If approved, students may then negotiate an alternative timeline with their Practicum Instructor and agency.

Thesis Students

2 Year Program

Students in the 2 Year program who are approved to complete a thesis, and register in the Thesis course have the choice to shorten the span of their first placement by 18 days. Accordingly students complete 64 days of placement (448 hours) rather than 82 days (574 hours). Students who choose the 18 day exemption but do not complete their thesis are required to extend their second practicum by 18 days (126 hours). This exemption is only applicable to the first placement.†

Advanced standing program

Thesis students in the Advanced Standing program who are registered in the Thesis course attend 45 days of placement (294 hours) rather than 87 days of placement (609 hours). Students who do not complete their thesis are required to complete an additional practicum, or extend their practicum.

Professional, Ethical, Behaviour or Learning 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 student-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.


Termination of Placement

Procedures for a discontinued MSW placement

In the event the Student-in-difficulty Procedure does not result in an adequate solution, the field course may be discontinued at the discretion of the field education course instructor or the field education coordinator. Field education is a required course accordingly a student may not opt out of the placement. Students who choose not to attend the placement assigned are expected to repeat the field course in order to fulfill graduation requirements.†

Impact on placement hours

When a placement is discontinued due to unexpected reasons (e.g. strike, Instructor moves to a new role, apparent safety concern, extenuating medical circumstance), and when a successful mid-term evaluation was submitted, or if the student was progressing successfully according to the field course instructor, the placement hours may carry over considering the instructorís feedback, and the coordinatorís assessment. In absence of these circumstances, if a placement is discontinued, placement hours do not carry over.

Implications of an Unsatisfactory Grade during the mid-term evaluation

In the event an unsatisfactory grade is provided at the mid-term by the field instructor(s) due to any issues identified (e.g. learning, professional, ethical or behavioural concerns), if the placement continues:

The learning plan is re-evaluated and the field advisor works with both the instructor and the student to facilitate this process.

The placement end date may be extended and hours may be increased to ensure the student has sufficient time to address the learning gaps identified.

If the placement is discontinued with an unsatisfactory mid-term evaluation and/or at any point after the unsatisfactory mid-term is submitted:

An exit meeting is facilitated with the instructor, advisor and the student to discuss reasons for ending the placement and provide feedback to the student and field education office. The field education coordinator is engaged in this process.

The student receives a fail (F) towards the field course and repeats the course based on the recommendations of the coordinator and associate dean to Graduate studies.†

The field advisor and coordinator work closely with the student to address any issues/concerns. The student, advisor and coordinator meet to address the feedback provided, and learning opportunities this has created for the student.

Appropriate recommendations are provided by the coordinator at this time, including learning assignments, a readiness for practice plan, or suggestions for referrals in specific areas of support.

Placements are not set up immediately. Each case is assessed individually to determine whether a student will benefit from a delayed placement, a break in their term, or starting a placement at the next placement cycle (January or September). These recommendations are also provided to Graduate studies.

Implications of an Unsatisfactory Grade during the final evaluation

In the event an unsatisfactory grade is provided at the final evaluation, and/or the placement is discontinued between the mid-term and final evaluation due to any issues identified (e.g. learning, professional, ethical or behavioural concerns):

An exit meeting is facilitated with the instructor, advisor and the student to discuss reasons for ending the placement and provide feedback to the student and field education office. The field education coordinator is engaged in this process.

The student receives a fail (F) towards the field course and repeats the course based on the recommendations of the coordinator and associate dean to Graduate studies.†

The field advisor and coordinator work closely with the student to address any issues/concerns.

The student, advisor and coordinator meet to address the feedback provided, and learning opportunities this has created for the student.

Appropriate recommendations are provided by the coordinator at this time, including learning assignments, a readiness for practice plan, or suggestions for referrals in specific areas of support.

Placements are not set up immediately. Each case is assessed individually to determine whether a student will benefit from a delayed placement, a break in their term, starting a placement at the next placement cycle (January or September), or other recommendations. These recommendations are also provided to Graduate studies.


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.

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.