MSW Advanced Year Practicum Placement Information
The Advanced year of the MSW program aims to build on the knowledge, values, and skills gained in the previous curriculum and seeks to increase students' competence to manage greater complexities of social work practice. It is designed to provide specific knowledge and practice skills in the student’s chosen concentration of Interpersonal Practice (IP) or Innovation in Community, Policy, and Leadership (I-CPL) The Advanced year internship placement should reflect the curriculum level and competencies of the Advanced year, through appropriate tasks and opportunities to practice new skills.
Why practicum is important
Practicum is the student's ability to learn in a real-life atmosphere. Per the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), Practicum Education is the signature pedagogy of the social work education curriculum, representing the primary teaching tool used for socializing students to begin performing in the role of a social work practitioner. In this way, both the classroom and internship experience equally contribute to developing the necessary competencies to prepare students for their new role within the social work professional practice. The internship allows the opportunity to put classroom knowledge into community action at an organization geared towards a desired field of practice.
Beginning the placement process
The Advanced year internship placement requires students to narrow down their internship selection by concentration and special interest area. With the Practicum Education launch in early March, students will begin the process of identifying their internship placement. Students receive an email with login access to create their profile in the Intern Placement Tracking (IPT) system and instructions for scheduling an appointment with their placement assistant. *
IMPORTANT: Please note that placement assistants are assigned based on special interest areas. Students in I-CPL concentration will be assigned a placement assistant, while IP students need to go a step further and narrow down their one special interest area from the list in their IPT profile to determine which placement assistant they will be assigned.
Students are required to come prepared for their placement meeting by fully completing their IPT profile ahead of time. This includes uploading their resume and selecting their three (potential) agency preferences. Students can narrow down, organize, and categorize the Agency List in IPT by using a “SORT” or “SEARCH” function. Many students like to research agencies by their designated “primary classification” and “county” to explore the different specialty areas of social work practice or identify agencies that are close to their residence. Students can view a detailed IPT Tutorial to learn how to navigate the IPT system here. Students may also find helpful answers to common questions about practicum on our FAQ page.
*Please note, for students who have already completed a Foundation year internship, the launch email will include instructions for creating your NEW IPT profile.
Descriptions of special interest areas
Students in the IP concentration will need to select only one special interest area to determine the nature of the placement setting and their placement assistant assignment, however, students in the I-CPL concentration can also inquire when they meet with their placement assistant whether certain special interest areas have an agency that can provide macro social work tasks and assignments for the advanced curricular level.
School social work
School social work is a specialized field of practice within the social work profession that according to the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), "acts as the connection for school, home, and community services to help children with emotional, developmental, and educational needs. They work as part of an interdisciplinary support team and are in a unique position to support the mental health of the entire school community.
Some words of wisdom, shared from a social worker with 39 years of experience:
"School social work is an exciting role to play. They are in a unique position to support the mental health of the entire school community. School social workers do many different things to support the academic success of students. They play an important part in joining with teachers, administrators, and families to help them support the students. School social workers may do assessments, crisis intervention, teach social skills in the classroom and see students individually and in groups. They may run parent groups as well. They are advocates, and a referral source for outside therapy and life needs (food, clothing, shelter). School social workers work as a team with school psychologists, speech and language teachers, and teachers to make sure the students are getting what they need. If you enjoy working directly with children and adults in their “workplace”, school social work is for you.”
To learn more about the requirements for becoming a school social worker, visit our Social Work in Schools webpage. Practicum placement examples include school districts (public, charter, or private schools), preschool and Head Start program and student advocacy centers.
Macro: Innovation in Community, Policy and Leadership (I-CPL)
Students in the I-CPL concentration are being trained to become practitioners who are skilled in working in community, policy, or leadership of organizations. Macro practice is a very important aspect of social work. Macro social workers are problem solvers and use the person-in-the-environment lens to implement social action and facilitate change within broader environments and systems. For example, macro social workers might focus on research, program development, write grants, work with communities to fight environmental injustice and racism, build collaborations and coalitions across organizations to better advocate for change, become a leader or take on an executive role within an organization, or hold elected office.
Practicum placement examples: non-profit community development organizations, advocacy organizations, and coalitions (e.g. student advocacy, environmental justice and climate equity, LGBTQIA rights, homelessness, racial equity and justice, disability justice, criminal justice reform and holistic defense for juveniles and adults and prisoner reentry, policy advocacy efforts), office of elected officials (State Representative, Senator, etc.), specialized research and grant projects, program development, roles within an agency’s board of directors or executive team, local city government.
MSW Advanced year students who wish to complete their practicum requirements in a healthcare setting should be prepared to be available for a 2-day or in some cases a 3-day internship, work in a fast-paced environment, and be part of a multi-disciplinary team consisting of doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, and psychologists. Hospital social workers advocate for patient-centered care and utilize intensive case management skills to connect patients to resources in their local community, such as housing, therapy, transportation, and in-home care. While students who are placed in large hospital systems will not be practicing individual therapy, they will utilize assessment skills and provide patients with emotional support and implement brief interventions. To learn more about our student practicum training program, visit our webpage: Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training (BHWET)
Practicum placement examples: Hospitals, Dialysis centers, School-based (medical) clinics, Psychiatric inpatient hospitals-Children and Adult units, Outpatient psychiatric clinics, Hospice care, Integrated healthcare programs.
Holistic Defense is a practice model for legal representation for individuals charged with a criminal or juvenile offense. Holistic Defense utilizes a multifaceted approach to legal representation that recognizes the social and legal challenges that can drive individuals into the criminal legal system, and the “collateral” or “enmeshed” consequences that may result from
an individual’s contact with the system. These potential consequences include effects on a person’s immigration status, housing and employment opportunities, access to public benefits, voting rights, the custody of children, and issues of mental health and substance abuse, to name just a few. Holistic defense seeks to serve a client’s myriad legal and social needs in addition to defending against the imposition of traditional criminal penalties. While models of holistic defense vary, at its core, the practice involves an interdisciplinary collaboration between attorneys, social workers, and other professionals. To learn more, visit our webpage: The Holistic Defense Course Series
Infant mental health
Advanced year IP students who are interested in an infant mental health placement will obtain direct service experience with infants, young children, and their caregivers – such as parents, early childhood educators, and foster families. Infant mental health clinical therapeutic work is relationship- and attachment-based, meaning the student will work with parents and caregivers to support the caregiver’s developing relationship with their child, which we know is critical to the child’s social-emotional and ongoing development. Most of these placements are home- and community-based, which provides the student the opportunity to carefully consider and honor the family’s culture, values, and beliefs as students learn about and implement developmental assessments and interventions.
Advanced year ICP-L students who are interested in working on behalf of infants, young children, and caregivers will gain experience working within community mental health agencies and organizations that focus their work on promoting the importance of early experiences and social-emotional development. ICP-L placements offer students opportunities to learn and implement agency and programmatic evaluations, impact policy, engage in community organizing, and promote workforce development.
Our mental health placements at the masters' levels aim to prepare our students to be professional practitioners and provide clinical social work service to vulnerable and oppressed individuals, groups, and families located in the Detroit metropolitan area and beyond (not sure this last part is true).
Students will learn specific practice skills essential in preparing them for generalist practice following completion of our program. These skills include assessment, case conceptualization, treatment planning/goal setting, implementation of strategies, process and outcome evaluation, and social work ethical practice.
In addition, our MH placements are intended to provide each student with clinical experience and training to effectively work with their chosen populations and/or settings.
We encourage all students to spend time considering which populations and practice settings interest you most and to reach out to .... for questions on particular placements.
In the area of Child Welfare, you will have an opportunity to work with not only children, but also families that have had their children removed from the home, or these families are at serious risk of having their children removed and placed in an out of home setting. Additionally, you will have the opportunity to learn and be involved in the Probate Court system that has ultimate authority over these children and possibly other disciplines such as the medical field.
In the area of Gerontology, students will have the opportunity to work with the ever-increasing aging population. In this discipline, students will work directly with the client population in the area of case management, assessing the needs of seniors, living arrangements, meal planning, Companion care, health care and end of life preparation issues and in the area of research and data collection. The age can range from 57 and up.
Wayne Pediatric Clinic
Students will work with an interdisciplinary team serving children and young adults in the Detroit area. At this practice, students may interact with many disciplines and specialties including social work, psychology, nurse practitioners, endocrinologists, allergists, rheumatologists. Students will work with children and families to address the full range of physical and mental development of patients. Work at this internship will include case management, medical follow ups and appointment planning, referrals to community resources, and a broad range of assessments.
Medical Examiner Office
Students at the Wayne County MEO will work with the grieving families and loved ones of those recently deceased. Work at this placement may include being present with loved ones during the identification of the deceased, offering referrals to resources for grief/trauma/burial assistance/victims assistance, etc., speaking with families about death (especially with cases of suicide or those involving SUD/OUDs), taking phone calls of loved ones seeking resources and following up as needed.
Student practicum training programs
Learn more about our CHIP, DEW and IPTV programs, visit our student practicum training programs webpage.
Helpful tips for narrowing down your placement site setting
Advanced year students may find it helpful to consider an agency’s setting by the level of intensity of services or interventions it provides. While the internship needs to reflect appropriate skills and tasks for their curricular level, this doesn’t always dictate the level of intensity a student can gain exposure to. Students should consider whether they are open to experiencing a higher-intensity setting or seeking something more low-intensity. An example of a higher-intensity setting could be a long-term residential treatment center or going out into the community to meet with clients and conduct home visits, while a lower-intensity setting may be in an office that provides outpatient services for individuals with few barriers to access treatment. Intensity can also be considered by the intensity of the population, such as an agency that focuses on providing specialized services to a specific population, like a domestic violence shelter or child advocacy center for victims of abuse, where ALL the individuals receiving services have met certain criteria.
Examples of levels of intensity and Interventions at a placement setting
Low Intensity: Outpatient mental health treatment
- Individual weekly therapy sessions (note: Only for Advanced year students in IP concentration).
- Mental health symptoms may be mild to moderate and there are little to no barriers to treatment. The clinic setting may or may not offer therapy groups
- Individuals may need to be referred out if the clinic doesn’t have a psychiatrist to prescribe medication.
Medium Intensity: Outpatient mental health treatment center and outreach or case management services
- Individuals with higher levels of needs and facing more barriers to treatment. Examples could include more severe mental health symptoms, frequent crises, danger in their environment, or housing and food scarcity.
- Interventions could include assessment skills to identify the hierarchy of needs and providing coordination services to connect individuals to resources in their community, such as housing, shelter, or food benefits. This level of care could include home visits or meetings with individuals in the community.
- Drop-in centers that support homeless individuals
Medium to High Intensity: Residential or long-term placement programs
- Commonly focused on a “specialty” population, such as youth or young adults that meet a specific criterion. Examples could include a residential program for court-ordered individuals, such as those transitioning from incarceration, or youth aging out of the foster-care system that is struggling with housing stability.
- Inpatient substance use treatment could fall into this category, such as a typical 30, 60, or 90-day treatment center program.
- Adult foster care homes, Semi-independent Living (SIL), or group homes.
- Nursing homes
- Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) teams, a model of intervention sometimes found at a community mental health (CMH) agency setting.
High Intensity: Inpatient and locked facilities
- Inpatient Psychiatric hospitals
- Jails, prisons, juvenile detention centers