CAUTION: Student Crossing

**Here are some tips for practicum-seekers. These are gathered from chatting with many BSW students as well as clinicians in all areas of social work. They don’t refer to any particular place, setting or person(s). It’s just some hard-won wisdom from your fellows to consider when you go out practicum-hunting. Good luck!!

Some practical tips for finding that perfect practicum…

1). Ditch “perfect.” Go with reality. That being said, don’t settle for entirely imperfect, either. Read on.

2). Go with your gut. If your first impression of your potential supervisor is ???fuzzy tv screen???, look elsewhere. If you don’t feel comfortable, do you really want to spend 3-400 hours with this person(s)? Exactly. It’ll be either an enormous snooze-fest or WWIII (or, shudder, a combo!). Hit the pavement again.

3). Welcome In. Is the atmosphere welcoming? If not, it won’t magically begin to be just because you’re there. It could become even worse when everyone has a student to babysit. Probably not a place you want to hang out.

4). Can you type? If the bulk of the work you will be doing is updating a manual, RUN!

5) What student?? If you are looking at working in a team environment, ask if the team is supportive of taking on a student. If only one or two people are willing, you may get resistance from others. If everyone is not on the same page, (remember, you are paying) explore other settings.

6) A real human response. We’re all worried we’ll cry and look like overly-emotional not-even-BSWs. Well, what’s a few tears? They are a real human response. Don’t be ashamed. Many of us are new to the practicum situations we encounter (that’s why we are doing practicums, right?). If you need to have a bawl, seek out support from a worker who is kind and understands the adjustments you are going through. Remember, your liaison is there for you, as are fellow students you’ll connect with via the Integrated Practice Seminar (IPS).

7). It’s all in the timing. In our practicums, we have two assessments. Position these well. One half-way, one at the end. You’ll need the feedback from your mid-point assessment to improve in your final one. If the timing is off, you may find one on the heels of the other, with only a short period of time to address learning issues. Figure out your hours, when you’ll be finished and make sure your assessments are positioned so that they benefit you and your learning. A thorough orientation and closure process are also good. Ask your supervisor about these. After all, it’s nice to know where to hang your coat and it’s nice to say “’Bye” to clients before you check out.

8) Make that a combo. Okay, so the dreaded afore mentioned combo happened, maybe with a few other factors thrown in. You’re clashing with your supervisor, or s/he has a hate on for you, or whatever…don’t suffer, friends. Would you tell a client to keep his/her head down and keep hurting? NO! You don’t need to either. Hit up your liaison for support. That’s what they are there for.

9). It’s an uphill climb: Rest. Your legs are tired, so is your brain and your heart. This is the reality vs. perfection model, remember? Like school, practicums can be a slog. It’s work, it’s learning and that’s exhausting. A great time to practice self-care.

10). Celebrate. When it’s over, it’s over. You came, you learned, you’re done. Walk away with your learning, lessons and new wisdom. You probably took some hits and negotiated bumps along the road. Give yourself a pat on the back for achieving that “P” (Pass!) and enjoy some time to let your brain return to “neutral.” Another milestone in the BSW journey! Congratulations.

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