Virtual Field Placement Toolkit

This toolkit is intended to be a support and resource for field educators and students who may need virtual field placement guidance, ideas, and support.

On this page:

Welcome and UBSSW expectations for virtual field placements

This brief video (3 mins) provides an overview of UBSSW Field expectations for 2020-2021.

We understand that field placements may look different in light of COVID-19. We also understand that training social work students in the realities of practice is of utmost importance. Engaging students in your work - in getting experience in telehealth, virtual interventions, virtual trainings - is all so important for skill and competency development.

Top 3 FAQs ~ Remote Field Learning

1. Is a remote/ virtual field placement ok?                                     YES! We can reimagine field placements as long as the core components of a placement are in place.

2. What are the essential elements of a field placement?        There is a lot we can be flexible and creative with in Field placements. As long as the core components of a field placement are ensured, we can be flexible with the rest (like modes of intervention and physical setting of students). Core elements of a field placement:

  • Social Work practice experience: The ability to practice social work skills (420 hours in foundation year; 480 hours in advanced year).
  • Competency development: The ability to engage in meaningful activities that map onto the 9 social work/CSWE competencies (see Learning Contract and evaluation activities webpage for competencies and ideas, including ideas of virtual field activities).
  • Supervision with a social work supervisor: Weekly supervision with an LMSW to help students anchor their learning in the competencies and social work values.

3. Is telehealth, shadowing staff virtually, and/or other technology-based modes of intervention ok?                        Absolutely! Technology has become an integral part of social work - and training and exposure to technology-based interventions is permissable and encouraged.

Advice from Other Field Educators

School Setting (Spotlight: Hamburg High School)

In this video [13 mins], Tina LaMendola (Social Worker and Field Educator at Hamburg High School) and student Meagan Reed share their experience as they transitioned Meagan's field placement to a virtual format in the Spring of 2020. 

Medical Setting (Spotlight: Sheridan Medical Group)

In this video, Field Educator Jennifer Carlson (Sheridan Medical Group) discusses her ideas for field education in 2020 and the important learning opporutnities that COVID has presented her practice and students.

Use of Materials

You are welcome to use any/all of the material found in the Virtual Field Placement Toolkit for educational (non-commercial) purposes only. Please let us know if you have found them helpful.

If you are using them from outside the UB SSW, we ask that you read over the Creative Commons licensing agreement, let us know that you will be using the materials, include the original citation information that is on them, as well the web address for our site, as an acknowledgement of where it was downloaded from and so people are able to explore our site if they’re interested.

McClain-Meeder, K., Lewis, L. (2020). Virtual Field Placement Toolkit. Located at

Acknowledgments and Thanks

During the summer of 2020, a workgroup of practitioners, faculty, and the UBSSW field staff gave time, wisdom, and input into crafting plans for the Fall. This group was a wealth of ideas, inspiration, and support. Thank you to all who participated in the Field workgroup: 

Field Educators/Community Practioners: Megan Andrews and Jocelyn Bos-Fisher, Child and Family Services EAP; Scott Bohosian, GA Family Services, Foster Care Program; Jennifer Carlson and Alfred Womack, Sheridan Medical Group; Glenn Frost, Roswell Park Cancer Center, Arlene Kaukus, UB Career Services; Whitney Walker, VOICE Buffalo' Joanne Wilton, Cheektowaga Sloan Union Free School District-Family Solution Center

UBSSW Faculty Name: Louanne Bakk, Anna Ball, Melanie Sage, Deborah Waldrop