Attaining hands-on experience while earning a degree in social work is critical in furthering a young professionals understanding of theory and principles taught in the classroom. That’s why at Limestone College the keystone course for students pursuing a Bachelor of Social Work is SW 420 Field Practicum.
Unlike a typical college course, field practicum doesn’t take place in a traditional classroom. Instead, students are assigned a field placement at a local social service agency at which they intern under the supervision of a professional social worker.
Offered during a student’s Senior year, the prerequisites for this course include completion of all general education and social work major required courses. To earn the field practicum course credits, students must complete 400 hours at their internship. Generally, this amounts to 20-32 hours a week over a 15-week period. However, Limestone also offers a six-month option, which reduces weekly hours to 16.
Timothy Hanshaw, Professor of Social Work and Associate Director for Field Practicum at Limestone College says, “The main goal [of the practicum experience] is for all students to understand the basic generalist concepts of social work, emphasizing the NASW Code of Ethics as well as, six core values and forty-one practice skills, while stressing integrity and competency…in all settings.”
To that end, Limestone College partners with over 100 social service agencies in the region including South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia, offering students a wide range of practicum options. Students are encouraged to discuss their interests with Limestone’s field program directors so that their placement aligns with their career plans. The list of social work agencies with whom Limestone collaborates is periodically updated to offer newer opportunities for placement.
Once a student has been assigned an internship, they will be paired with an agency social work supervisor. The supervisor will meet with the student at least once a week to discuss the learning contract, strengths/needs, areas for improvement and overall field learning progression. On a day-to-day basis, the supervisor will also be responsible for assigning activities and providing professional mentoring.
Upon completion of a student’s social work internship, an agency supervisor will complete a learning contract assessment, which they’ll submit to Limestone College. As 50 percent of a student’s final grade is based on this assessment, it is important for students to make their best effort to observe supervisor’s feedback during their internship.