Practicum Education Manual - VI. Practicum Education Placement Policies, Procedures, and Processes

A. Internship placement process

The school is required to arrange all internship placements in accordance with CSWE specifications.  Students are not to arrange their own internship placement, though we encourage students to suggest agencies they would like to intern with.  Unless otherwise instructed, a flow chart of the process for student internship placements can be found here: Internship Process Flow Chart

1. IPT student detail page 

Before internship placements begin, all students in degree programs are sent an email regarding their IPT Student Detail Page.  BSW Sr. and Foundation year students are given a link to their placement assistants calendar so they may schedule an interview to meet and discuss concerns and questions regarding internship placement. MSW Advanced year students are required to call OPE to be assigned a placement assistant and to acquire a link to their calendar so they may schedule an interview.  Prior to the interview, students are expected to complete the IPT Student Detail Page and upload a current resume.  After the completion of the IPT Student Detail Page and interview, the placement assistant reviews all material and contacts internship placement sites to secure a internship placement.

The IPT Student Detail Page allows students to express preferences and provide needed personal information. When assigning an internship placement, the placement assistant takes all preferences and concerns into consideration.  However, placement at a specific agency or in a certain geographic location cannot be guaranteed.

2. Internship placement agency interview

After the internship placement assistant has reviewed the IPT Student Detail Page and contacted an appropriate internship-placement site, a formal referral to the agency is made.  The student detail page, and pertinent content, will be linked to the agency contact for review, and the student is sent an email asking that they contact the internship placement site to arrange an interview. Contact information for the agency will be found on the Student Detail Page in IPT. If the internship-placement site and the student agree that the internship placement is an appropriate match, then the student is placed. Otherwise, a second interview at another site will be arranged. The OPE is notified of interview results via the Interview Decision form in IPT.

If a student is not accepted at two internship agencies for performance or behavior concerns, or does not accept placements at two intership agencies, the student is then required to meet with the Director of Practicum Education. Failure to secure a placement after a third interview will be interpreted as the lack of readiness for practicum at this time. These students will be referred to their assigned Academic Advisor for revision of the academic plan of work.

Students are expected to attend all scheduled interviews and present themselves in a professional manner. The OFE values its relationships with internship placement sites and practicum instructors and expects all participating students to act accordingly.

3. Suggested questions for internship placement interviews

During internship placement interviews students are encouraged to ask questions and raise issues to ensure the agency provides an appropriate fit. The internship placement site interviewer will have a list of questions to ask the student, and students are encouraged to be similarly prepared. Tips for a internship placement interview 

4. Nature of internship placement

The OPE cannot guarantee students an internship placement at a specific site. The OPE does note student preferences and takes all information into consideration; however, some internship placement sites may not be able to accommodate a student's schedule and/or needs. Numerous factors dictate whether or not an internship placement site is able to facilitate student placements, including the availability and willingness of a practicum instructor to supervise students and the programming opportunities and space available at an agency.

Some internship placement sites specify a limited number of students for whom they are able to provide a internship placement opportunity and others specify certain curricular levels of students they are willing to supervise. School and hospital internship placements are commonly reserved for advanced-year MSW students pursuing school social worker approval or the area of health care, respectively; however, this policy may vary depending on the site and tasks to be performed.

The OFE reminds students that the more flexibility you extend, as to availability and/or willingness to explore other interest areas, the more numerous the available opportunities. Student internship placement should be scheduled during normal business hours, which for some agencies, includes evening and weekend hours. However, evening-and weekend-only placements should not be expected.

B. Selection of internship placement Site

The internship placement site works in concert with the school to provide students with meaningful experience and work within the confines of a social work setting.

By committing itself to an educational function and supporting the role of the practicum instructor, the internship-placement site develops an educational program that meets the expectations of the agency, the school and the student.  An internship placement site must commit to compatible philosophy with school objectives, the provision of qualified practicum instructors, and the opportunity for students to carry out practice assignments, while actively participating within the agency setting.

1. New site

Agencies interested in serving as internship-placement sites for students should complete an application at: Office of Practicum Education Application for Agency Participation - Wayne State University.  The OPE will review the submitted material and reach out to the agency contact to discuss the practicum program; upon acceptance, the agency will be added to the OFE database.

For an agency to serve as an internship placement site, specific criteria must be met, including, but not limited to, providing proper supervision by an individual with 2 years' post-MSW experience and who holds a LMSW, or another qualified individual identified by the WSUSSW to serve as a practicum instructor, adequate working space, and assigning tasks that meet designated learning objectives.

2. Renewal site

Each winter the OFE sends all agencies an email to ascertain which agencies are interested in renewing their commitments for the upcoming academic year.  In order to assist the OFE in organizing BSW and MSW internship placement opportunities, agencies are asked to update agency information in the Intern Placement Tracking System as soon as possible. This process allows agencies to update information and specify how many students from each curricular level of the degree programs they may be able to accommodate for the upcoming academic year.

For an agency to serve as an internship placement site, specific criteria must be met, including, but not limited to, providing proper supervision by an individual with 2 years' post-MSW experience and who holds a LMSW, or another qualified individual identified by the WSUSSW to serve as a practicum instructor, adequate working space, and assigning tasks that meet designated learning objectives.

3. Student intern job description

While student job descriptions are not required, they are recommended because they can help the agency, student, and school ensure that specific criteria are met.  Student-intern job descriptions can also help reduce confusion by outlining expectations. Example of a Student intern job description

C. Change of internship placement

Once a student and internship placement site have been matched, the student is expected to make every effort to remain at the internship placement site.  If a situation arises where this may not be possible, the student should contact the Faculty Practicum Liaison immediately.

Students with a two-semester internship placement are expected to complete required internship placement clock hours at the assigned internship placement site.  Students who want a change of internship placement between semesters OR during a semester, must contact the assigned Faculty Practicum Liaison to discuss the situation. The Faculty Practicum Liaison will do everything possible to retain the student at the internship placement site. If the Faculty Practicum Liaison feels that a change of internship placement is necessary, then he/she will contact the OPE, where the situation will be reviewed to determine if a change is necessary. No student may change internship placement without school consent.

D. Selection of practicum instructor

The practicum instructor is the person on site who gives direction to the students' practicum while keeping with the mission, goals, and practicum education curriculum of the school.  The practicum instructor is selected by the agency and appointed by the school.  Selection is based on professional competence and teaching ability. No agency should agree to be a practicum education site, nor should staff members volunteer for a practicum education assignment, unless they are able to commit to completing the placement.

1. Practicum instructor requirements

A practicum instructor must be a social worker with a MSW degree and at least 2 years post-MSW experience and eligible for licensure in the State of Michigan, or another qualified individual identified by the WSUSSW.  A practicum instructor also must be affiliated with an approved internship placement site, provide direction which meets the school's learning objectives, be available to provide students with a minimum of 1 hour per week of supervision and show an interest in providing students with tasks and instruction to meet designated learning objectives.

Attributes of an effective practicum instructor include:

  • effective practice skills;
  • commitment to social work values as specified by the Code of Ethics;
  • ability to conceptualize the practice of social work;
  • ability to communicate ideas and concepts to others;
  • a commitment to social work education and a willingness to expend the necessary time and energy;
  • willingness to work with students, the faculty liaison, and the school in accordance with the school's philosophy, mission and goals, and the emphasis of the students' program unit; and
  • willingness to develop and refine skills in practicum instruction by attending classes, workshops, and institutes.

a. State of Michigan Social Worker Licensure

The preference of the OFE is that individuals serving as practicum instructors hold a MSW degree and be a LMSW.  For information regarding State of Michigan licensure requirements, consult the Michigan Department of Community Health website or call the office at 517-335-0918.

2. New practicum instructor

To serve as a practicum instructor, an individual must have a minimum of 2 years post-MSW experience, be a LMSW, or another qualified individual approved by the WSUSSW to serve as a practicum instructor.  This individual must be affiliated with an approved internship placement site, be available to provide students with a minimum of 1 hour per week of supervision and show an interest in providing students with tasks and instruction to meet designated learning objectives. 

Individuals meeting the criteria should complete an application at: Office of Practicum Education New Practicum Instructor Application - Wayne State University  Or the contact person from their agency may provide the relevant information to the OPE, such as, their email address, direct phone number and state licensure details.  Updates and/or corrections to any of this information can be made by contacting the Office of Practicum Education.

3. Change of practicum instructor

A practicum instructor who contemplates a change in employment is asked to notify the OPE before notifying the student.  The agency and the OPE will then develop an alternative plan to support the student's education.  In the case of a short absence, the practicum instructor should notify the OPE well in advance so alternate plans can be made.

E. Internship placement policies and procedures

The OPE is dedicated to serving students efficiently and considerately.  Procedures related to internship placement are continually reviewed and revised to ensure accuracy, appropriateness, and consistency. Questions or concerns about internship placement procedures should be directed to the OPE.

1. No academic credit for life and/or work experience

The BSW and MSW degree programs do not award academic credit for life and/or work experience, in whole or in part, as a substitute for internship placement.  This policy is consistent with the education policy and accreditation standards of the CSWE.

2. Academic calendar

All students will begin internship placement each term on the date designated by the school unless special arrangements have been made.  Students shall remain in internship until the official last day of practicum, set by the OPE.

Although students must complete a minimum number of clock hours per registered credit hour each semester, they are expected to continue in practicum each term on the days assigned even after the minimum has been met.  It is normal for students to accumulate a few more clock hours than the required minimum in their effort to provide quality services.  However, students are expected to perform their internship placement duties within their assigned agency hours.

Holidays:  Students in practicum are expected to follow the university's calendar for holidays and recesses.  Students will have recesses at Thanksgiving, between the fall and winter semesters, and during the winter semester.   Exceptions are as follows:

Insufficient clock hours:  When a student has lost internship placement time because of illness or other emergencies, the time must be made up during holiday and/or student recesses so that required clock hours are completed by the end of the semester.

Disruptive absence:  When an absence during a recess (such as a holiday or the inter-semester break) might seriously interfere with the service being rendered to an individual client or group by the student, the student must make arrangements to provide service during the recess.

Continuity of Care for clients:  Students and practicum instructors need to consider scheduling the students' time at their placement during holidays and recesses, if necessary, so appropriate contact with clients and groups can be maintained in order to provide good professional experiences for the student.  If a student engages in practicum activities during the December-January holiday break, the internship placement clock hours accrued will generally be counted for the next semester (Winter) unless the student lacks the required number of internship placement clock hours for the previous semester.    

The following should be noted:

  • Students will conform to agency policy when agencies observe special holidays.  Students may not count hours for internship placement credit on days when their agencies are closed to observe religious or other special holidays.
  • Even if the minimum number of required clock hours is completed, students may not terminate internship placement before the date designated by the school.  Students must attend until the last day of Internship Placement (noted on our website).
  • The university and the school observe these legal holidays: Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day.
  • If students wish to attend professional conferences which conflict with class and practicum responsibilities other than those designated by the school, they should consult their Faculty Practicum Liaison.

3. Attendance at internship placement

Students are expected to meet their attendance requirements at the internship placement site each internship placement day.  If students must be absent due to illness or emergency, they must notify the agency at the beginning of the workday.  If students have lost considerable internship placement time during a semester because of illness or for other emergencies, they must make up the internship placement clock hours during holiday or student recesses.  Students will not receive credit for internship placement in any term until the required number of clock hours has been completed. 

If students are absent from internship placement for an extended period, and if their learning and/or service to clients suffer as a result, they must consult with the assigned Faculty Practicum Liaison, practicum instructor and OPE staff to make appropriate plans to deal with the situation.

4. Criminal history advisement

Please be advised that many agencies conduct criminal background checks and/or fingerprinting on interns.  Students may be required to submit to electronic fingerprinting and pay any required fees. In many agencies, i.e., agencies that provide services to families and children or older adults, this is a legal requirement. A criminal record may prevent you from being accepted by any of the affiliated agencies. Because internship placement is an absolute requirement, and if you are unable to establish an internship due to a criminal record, you will be terminated from the program. If you have a criminal record, you are required to inform the Director of Practicum.  Failure to inform the Practicum Director of this history may result in termination from the program. There may also be potential consequences for individuals with criminal records who intend to seek the LBSW or LMSW.  For further information regarding licensure eligibility, consult the Michigan Board of Social Workers website.

5. Drug screening advisement

Agencies may require random drug screening(s) at any time during the year. Students must be willing to participate in these additional screens/evaluations and give permission for the results to be provided to the School when requested. If a student fails these screens, they will not be accepted at the specified agency, can become ineligible for internship placement, and therefore not be placed for an entire academic year. If during the year a student fails a screening, they will be removed from the agency and not placed in another agency for the remainder of the academic year. The Practicum Director will review cases to determine whether a student is eligible to continue in practicum and thus the social work degree program.

Notice regarding Medical Marijuana Card or recreational marijuana: It is important to note that students who report having a medical marijuana card or use marijuana recreationally must still comply with established policies and procedures of the agency where they are doing an internship.

6. Internship placment site locations

The Wayne State University School of Social Work has responsibility to arrange internship placements for students enrolled in the BSW and MSW programs.  Students are expected to arrange reliable transportation to and from the internship placement site.  The Office of Practicum Education does consider the location in which a student lives but cannot guarantee an internship placement near that area.

7. Internship placement at agency with family member(s) or client status

A student shall not be placed for practicum instruction with any family member or person with whom he/she has a quasi-familial relationship, defined as "a close personal or conjugal relationship." Nor will a student be placed for practicum instruction in any organization in which the student or his/her family members have been clients.

To avoid breaches of confidentiality and conflicts of interest, the school discourages placement of students in organizations where family members or quasi-family members are employed, especially in small organizations, where breaches of confidentiality and conflicts of interest are more likely to occur. If an organization refuses to accept a student for these reasons, the school shall comply.

8. Offer of employment by internship agency

The School of Social Work understands that the goal of most students is to secure employment as a licensed social worker upon graduation, and that the goal of most placement agencies is to hire employees who are educated, and well trained. Thus, there are times when internship agencies will offer paid employment positions to student interns who have not yet completed their internship.  While the activities of the professional and student are not incompatible, there is a difference between the goals of educational development and those of employment. To ensure continuing educational development, the School of Social Work has adopted policies and procedures for when students are offered employment at their internship agency prior to completion of their internship. A link to the policy and application can be found on the School's website: Offer of Employment by Internship Agency

9. Place of employment (POE) internship placement

Students entering practicum may be considered for a place of employment (POE) pending certain criteria are met. Proposals for placements in a student's place of employment will be considered when unique professional training circumstances exist.  It is expected that the student will discuss the proposal with the employing agency administrator responsible for staffing decisions, but it is understood that all formal arrangements related to the proposed assignment are made by the Office of Practicum Education and the agency. A link to the policy, process, criteria, and application form can be found on the School's website: Place of Employment (POE) Internship Placement      

10. Student particiaption on school committees

Student participation and involvement are relevant to the student's preparation for the profession, as well as the development of responsible leaders. In addition, the school recognizes the need to have students involved in formulating policies related to the degree programs.  Consequently, students in key positions in the Student Organization and those serving on student-faculty committees are sometimes allowed to adjust their internship-work schedules to accommodate organizational needs. This policy in no way affects clock-hour requirements for the number of credits for which the student is registered per term.  It does allow the Faculty Practicum Liaison to arrange with agency personnel for students to work in the agency fewer hours on certain days while still fulfilling the minimum clock hour requirement.

11. Advocacy

In keeping with the social work value of belief in the dignity and worth of the human being, the school has adopted an advocacy policy, which maintains that the professional social worker has a responsibility to act on behalf of others in those circumstances which are beyond the other person's capacities to achieve by their own efforts.  This policy applies to all members of the school community as well as clients.

12. Letters of reference for graduating students

The faculty has adopted these policies and procedures regarding letters of reference:

  • Students are free to ask any faculty member or practicum instructor for references.
  • Faculty members and practicum instructors are free to honor such requests and no one is prohibited from doing so.
  • Faculty members and practicum instructors are free to refuse to write a reference and no one is prohibited from declining a request.

13. Extension of internship placement

Students who find they are unable to complete the required clock hours within the designated semester must contact the assigned Faculty Practicum Liaison immediately; the Faculty Practicum Liaison will discuss the situation with the student and the practicum instructor. If it is determined by the Faculty Practicum Liaison and practicum instructor that the student should receive an extension of internship placement, the Faculty Practicum Liaison will contact the Director of Practicum Education, who will review the situation and determine if the recommendation is compatible with the outlined learning objectives.

14. Official strikes at internship placement

15. Student use of private vehicle

Students are encouraged to use an agency vehicle when transporting clients, consumers, or agency personnel on behalf of the agency. If a student elects to use a privately-owned vehicle as part of his/her internship placement responsibilities, s/he is responsible for obtaining adequate insurance to cover his/her legal responsibility. The University does not carry physical damage insurance or liability coverage on a privately-owned vehicles. 

If an agency permits students to transport clients in an agency-owned vehicle, to ensure any possible liability and physical damage coverage, the student should review both the agency policy regarding client transportation and student insurance protection that the agency provides for student interns.

16. Student professional liability insurance

In keeping with professional practice, the faculty of the school decided that all students enrolled in internship placement courses must carry professional liability insurance as a condition of internship placement.  The university and the school require liability insurance coverage before a student begins internship placement to cover any incidents that occur at the internship site for which the student may be implicated.  Social Work students will be covered under a universal policy purchased by the School of Social Work.  Your practicum fee will go towards this purchase.

17. Resoluation of problems regarding internship placement

When internship placement questions or concerns arise, students and practicum instructors are urged to contact the assigned Faculty Practicum Liaison immediately, as there is a set procedure for problem resolution in practicum education.

  • STEP ONE: The student should discuss the situation or concern(s) with the practicum instructor. If the practicum instructor is experiencing a situation or concern, she/he should approach the student.  
  • STEP TWO: If the problem remains unresolved after discussion, the student or practicum instructor should contact the assigned Faculty Practicum Liaison, who may arrange a meeting with the practicum instructor and student to discuss the situation or concern(s) and implement a corrective action plan. 
  • STEP THREE: If the problem is still unresolved, or if further attention is deemed appropriate, the next step is to contact the Director of Practicum Education, and then the Assistant Dean of Student Affairs.

View the Corrective Action Plan.   

  • Internship placement problem resolution procedure:
    • 1st Contact:  Practicum Instructor/Student  
    • 2nd Contact:  Faculty Practicum Liaison  
    • 3rd Contact:  Director of Practicum Education
    • 4th Contact:  Associate Dean

18. Wayne State University policy on student injuries

19. Student safety

20. Affiliation agreement

An affiliation agreement documents the formal relationship between the school and internship placement agency and includes the terms and conditions of the internship placement. It also includes the responsibilities of the school and the agency. Some internship placement agencies require an affiliation agreement, and others do not. If an affiliation agreement is required, the agency can either request a school version or submit an agency version to the school.

If an agency required affiliation agreement is approved, students can be placed at the agency. If declined, students cannot be placed at the agency and the OFE will contact the agency for further discussion. The following diagram outlines the approval process for an affiliation agreement:

a. Affiliation agreement procedure 

  • 1st Step:  Affiliation agreement is requested
  • 2nd Step:  Affiliation agreement is submitted to the OFE
  • 3rd Step:  OFE gives affiliation agreement to the Dean: either signs or declines
  • 4th Step:  OFE sends affiliation agreement to General Counsel: either signs or declines
  • 5th Step:  General Counsel gives affiliation agreement to the Provost: either signs or declines
  • 6th Step:  Affiliation agreement returned to the OFE: Approved (can accept students) OR Not Approved (can't accept students)

21. Internship placement clock hours

Hours spent in internship placement are referred to as "clock hours." The required number of internship placement clock hours is determined by the number of credit hours for which the student has registered and by the student's curricular status. Internship placement clock hours must be earned while performing internship placement tasks on the agreed-upon internship placement days.

a.   Verification

Students are assigned a time log in their IPT forms folder at the beginning of each semester, and all hours accrued are to be logged in on a weekly basis. The time log will help to resolve discrepancies regarding accumulated clock hours. If the internship placement site has a time-tracking system already in place, students are advised to use it as well. 

b.   Requirements for Degree Programs

Students in the specified degree programs must complete these internship placement requirements:

Year Hours per week Weeks per semester Semesters Total clock hours Total credits
BSW Seniors 16 14.5 2 460 10
MSW Foundation 16 14.5 2 450 8
MSW Advanced 16 or 24* 14.5 2 450 or 676* 8 or 12*

*Only Advanced Year MSW students (traditional or advanced standing) may opt to do Internship placement for 24 hours each week instead of the traditional 16.  This is often called a "three-day placement" and is an option for students in place of some elective credits.

c.   Acceptable Activities for Earning Clock Hours

Internship placement clock hours accrued throughout a semester must be earned by completing and participating in designated internship placement tasks. Some students will be required to attend trainings, meetings, orientations, or perform other activities not necessarily located on agency grounds or that do not require active participation in internship placement. Such required activities are accepted as earned internship placement clock hours because they allow the student to become acclimated to the setting and/or tasks to be performed. Tasks that have no bearing on the practicum work to be performed are not counted towards the accruement of internship placement clock hours.

Questions about acceptable activities should be resolved with the practicum instructor. If the practicum instructor cannot provide an answer or if the practicum instructor's answer contradicts the student's perception, the student should contact the assigned Faculty Practicum Liaison. The chart below outlines some possible scenarios:

Internship Placement Activity

Acceptable for

Clock Hours

Unacceptable for

Clock Hours

Student attends a new hire orientation. X  
Time it takes a student to travel from home to the internship placement site.   X
Student attends a school- related event during scheduled internship placement day.   X
Time it takes a student to travel from the internship placement site to a client home. X  



d. Clock Hours and Credit Hours

Clock hours are the number of hours a student earns at the internship placement site by performing tasks (1 clock hour = 60 minutes). Students in the BSW program are expected to complete 230 clock hours each semester of internship placement. Students in the MSW program are expected to complete 225 clock hours each semester of internship placement.

Credit hours are the number of credits assigned to a course from a degree program. Credit hours are determined by numerous factors, including difficulty and frequency of required course assignments, content covered, and hours of attendance per week.

21. Classroom assignments

If students are asked to present situations from their current internship placement as written assignments for courses, they should preserve client privacy by disguising identifiable facts and labels. The practicum instructor should be informed of these assignments.

22. Jury duty

Students requested to participate in jury duty are excused from their internship placement site until the jury obligation is completed. However, all clock hours missed must be made up in order to accumulate the specified number of internship placement clock hours for the curricular year to meet degree requirements.

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