Safety Tips For Social Work Field Placements
Look Out for Your Own Welfare
As social workers, we often care so much for our clients that sometimes we neglect our own personal welfare.
One of the requirements of getting an MSW@USC is completing a field placement. We are sent to work with clients in neighborhoods that aren’t the most glamorous. Not to mention, we’re often required to work with individuals who are at their most vulnerable points in their lives. Unfortunately, there is no specific solution to providing social workers guaranteed safety. However, there are essential safety measures you can take to protect yourself at your next clinical experience.
Always be in the “K.N.O.W.”
Social workers love acronyms! Here’s one I penned to help other MSW@USC students look out for their own personal safety.
*Know your client population. Initiate a dialogue with your agency’s staff members to understand the full picture. Discuss common population demographics and personal history, such as gang association and history of violence. Pursue this further and take time to understand the clinical variables at play, such as alcohol or substance abuse. Lastly, don’t forget your asynchronous training in assessing situational factors. If there is immediate availability of a weapon, remove yourself from the situation and alert the appropriate authorities.
*Notify your agency and supervisor of your whereabouts. Upon going into the field, provide other staff members with the names of parties you’re meeting, the address of your site visit and the location’s telephone numbers.
*Observe and assess the situation. At all times, interns should evaluate the risks to their personal safety and avoid exposing themselves to danger. After completing an assessment of the situation, do not hesitate to follow your agency’s procedure for reporting an incident.
*Wear a noise-making device, such as a whistle, on your wrist or keychain. If you feel unsure how a whistle could help, role play with your supervisor until you feel more comfortable using it.
Questions? Contact your supervisors!
The best safety policy and procedure is the safety policy and procedure that’s observed and used!
What measures are you taking to ensure your own personal welfare and safety? Have you come up with any other acronyms that could help?