On Job Practicum Policy


A request for an on-job placement should be indicated on the application for the practicum.  Students must have been employed within the agency where a placement is being requested, a minimum of six months by the start of the practicum semester.   The educational objectives remain the same for on-job practicum as for any other practicum.  Each request will be carefully reviewed by the Director of Field Education.

Students who begin a new job may NOT count the job as a practicum, even when the new job begins about the same time as the start of the semester. The role of an employee and the role of a student must remain separate.

Some of the major learning objectives for practicum education are concerned with the student’s exposure and response to agency structure and process as well as to clients.  An on-job practicum must include a change within the agency where the student is currently working.  Assignment to a different unit and/or a significant change in the role and function of the student are essential, to meet the educational requirements. To protect the clients and to further protect the boundaries between the employee and the student roles, it is expected that clients served by the student when in the employee role may not be the same clients served by the student when in the student/practicum role.

This policy offers some time management support to students who must work during their academic career and whose employment organization offers sufficient variety of services and personnel who are qualified to serve as a practicum supervisor.  However, the student’s and the employer’s commitment to the separate roles of employee and of student is critical.  It is understood that a student may not simply change jobs/positions within their work setting as a way to satisfy the practicum requirement.  Instead, students may plan for a change in responsibilities for the weekly 16 hours of practicum while retaining their regular duties for the balance of their work week hours.

Each student who requests a practicum placement within her/his present place of employment will:

1.    Present a letter addressed to the Director of Field Education, on agency letterhead stationery from the agency administrator or the student’s current work supervisor to include:

  • The student’s job status (temporary, permanent, prn, etc.)
  • The student’s regular hours and days of employment
  • The student’s date of employment
  • A brief description of the major responsibilities of the student’s current job, including the particular program/department/unit area where the student works.
  • A proposal for a practicum which would differ from the present job in both scope and content and which would meet the educational objectives of either the foundation/generalist practicum (include learning opportunities for micro, mezzo and macro intervention skills: intake, assessment, service planning; utilization of community resources; formal written documentation of services provided and reports/correspondence; individual and family counseling; group education/counseling; participation on agency committees and/or representing agency at community meetings; policy development; research and evaluation of programs/services, etc.) or the advanced practicum (all of foundation practicum activities plus more complex client situations; group counseling; and more complex administrative projects; more responsibilities for planning and grant writing, research and evaluation), according to which course the student is taking.  It is important that the clients served are different when the student is in the regular employee role and when functioning in the practicum role, to avoid confusion by clients and colleagues and potential conflicts of interest.  The employee as student should have a reduced workload in the practicum capacity to provide time for the learner’s role of reflection, critical thinking and consultation.
  • The student’s work schedule and the proposed practicum schedule. For further distinction between regular employment and the practicum experience, separate schedules should set aside certain blocks of time for each activity.  To provide for a greater continuity of experience, it is expected that four hours will be the minimum block of time devoted to on-job practicum activity.
  • Identity of the work supervisor and the practicum supervisor, in no case shall this be the same person. It is best if the proposed practicum supervisor is not a co-worker or close friend of the student.  The practicum supervisor must have an MSW degree from an accredited program, a minimum of two years post-masters full-time social work experience, and have been working in the agency for at least one year.  Just as doctors, dentists and lawyers must do internships under guidance by someone with the same credential, so must social workers. Personnel with degrees in related disciplines have been trained in different methods and with different values and are not obligated to abide by the NASW Code of Ethics and so are not appropriate to mentor social work students as practicum supervisors.

It is understood by writing this letter, the administrator/work supervisor is stating their support of the student doing an on-job practicum.  As such, the work supervisor will insure the student is protected during practicum hours from being pulled away from practicum activities to attend to regular/crisis job duties.  It is particularly helpful to the success of on-job practicum if students can be physically located in a different office/floor/building for the practicum assignments than for their regular work responsibilities.  This helps to establish clear boundaries and to assist co-workers and clients in differentiating between the student role and the employee role.

2.    Attach a copy of the proposed practicum supervisor’s updated resume.

3.    Obtain signatures of the work supervisor or administrator, the proposed practicum supervisor and the student, including phone numbers, email addresses and office addresses for the work supervisor and the practicum supervisor.

4.    Submit the administrator’s/work supervisor’s letter with the proposed supervisor’s resume (if the field office already has this resume on hand, no need to submit another one) to Ramie Martin-Galijatovic, Program Manager, Kent School of Social Work, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY 40292 or email it to Ramie Martin-Galijatovic.