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Staff Stories Centre for Addiction
and Mental Health

High demand for social work placements at CAMH continues

It’s mid morning on a weekday and a group of students is making their way through 60 White Squirrel Way at CAMH. They’re not too sure where they’re going, but once they open a door they see a large group of others like them sitting around tables. They’re all social work students, here for their first day of field work.

Social work students
A group of 2014-2015 social work students on their first day at CAMH

A hallmark of social work education is field education: the supervised hands-on learning experience students have in the day-to-day world of social work. The field instructor and the student analyze and integrate practice skills with the knowledge and value base of the profession. It’s a key educational opportunity where theory is applied to practice and practice skills are developed.

“Being a field instructor is an enriching experience. I value the opportunities to work with students around clinical issues, group facilitation and special projects”, says CAMH social work field instructor Lynne Green. “Students broaden my horizon and create opportunities for us to mutually share in the learning experience. I appreciate working with students who are passionate about making a difference.”

Social work students Dhivya Balakrishnan, Hayley Darychuk and Michelle Ortiz
(L to R) Social work students Dhivya Balakrishnan, Hayley Darychuk and Michelle Ortiz

Interest in coming to CAMH to train as a social worker has increased significantly over the years, according to Colleen Kelly, CAMH’s Discipline Chief Social Work-Professional Practice, who originally came to CAMH for her own Masters of Social Work field placement in 1986.

“The demand for placements is soaring. CAMH places the largest number of student social workers in Canada and we receive requests for student placements from all over the world,” says Colleen.

So far in the 2014-2015 school year, 39 Masters of Social Work and three Bachelors of Social Work students are fulfilling their placement requirements at CAMH and more students will be starting in January 2015.

“We are thrilled to welcome so many students of all disciplines to CAMH and we value the collaborations we have at the universities and colleges with whom we are affiliated,” says Jane Paterson, Director of Interprofessional Practice.

CAMH Social Work field instructors
CAMH’s Social work field instructor Lynne Green, Discipline Chief Social Work & Field Instructor Colleen Kelly and Educational Coordinator & Field Instructor Elizabeth Holmes

There are 60 CAMH social workers  involved in the training and educating for this cohort of students. Elizabeth Holmes is a field instructor, social worker and the Education Coordinator in CAMH’s Law and Mental Health program. When she started working as an Educational Coordinator 15 years ago, there were only two or three social work students at what was then the Queen Street Mental Health Centre.

For Holmes, being a field instructor “is as a chance to give back to the profession. I enjoy the students’ insight and ideas they bring to their placements.”

Jodi Wolff is a field instructor and social worker in the Assessment and Brief Treatment clinic in the Addictions Service. She’s also the Educational Coordinator for students in CAMH’s Problem Gambling and Addictions services. “It is an honor to play a role in influencing the future of social work through my connection with students.”

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