Better Thank Fiction

Life can be better than books. Some of us avid readers may not think so, especially at the end of a long day, when we’re propped up in bed or curled up in a chair, in the glow of a lamp, reading a favourite novel.
But real life can beat out good fiction, as most of us can tell you on a good day. This has been my practicum experience.
I wasn’t entirely sure what my practicum would look like. It was all a bit of an unknown. Sure, the details had all been arranged. But what would it look like? Frankly, I was a little anxious about it. I hoped for the best. Well, it’s been better than that.
It’s been amazing. It’s like learning in a super-enriched environment where there’s learning at every turn.
Learning in real-life. Now, that’s knowledge that’s going to stay with a person.
In my UVic social work courses, I’ve come across some amazing reading, terrific theory, wonderful examples. But this is really IT, folks.
And, in this real-life practicum guess what I draw on as much as the theory we’ve learned? My life experience. Books alone will not get us students where we want to be: we have to rely on our lived experience, too.
Learning to balance my hard-won life experience with social work theory and developing professional skills defines my practicum experience. Moreover, on a daily basis, I realize what a privilege it is to work with experienced clinicians who are so giving of their time and expertise to a mere practicum student.
I’m grateful to every one of them, both social workers and psychiatric nurses, for sharing their work experience with me. My most profound gratitude is also for the generousity and trust from the clients. So many of them have become heroes in my eyes.
Where am I at? Working full-time for about 300 hours as part of a multi-disciplinary team supporting adults with severe and persistent mental health disorders in the community.
If you’re approaching your practicum, throw yourself into it wholeheartedly. Choose the richest learning environment possible. Treat it like a job. This is the advice I was given by some senior social work students and it’s served me well.
As one worker here said, hold out an “empty cup” to fill with newfound knowledge – not just from books, but from life and the real life teachers around you.