WMU-Grand Rapids Graduate Programs Provide 63,800+ Hours of Service to the Community Through Fieldwork

by Tyler Lecceadone
Oct. 19, 2017 | Extended University Programs News

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.,—Graduate programs in Western Michigan University’s Grand Rapids regional location have provided more than 63,800 hours of service to greater Grand Rapids and the surrounding communities through fieldwork experiences in the past academic year—2016–17.

“Field education is an integral part of graduate students’ learning process, and is the signature pedagogy of social work education. Service hours in the field allow students to demonstrate the integration of knowledge, values and skills gained in the classroom, while also providing needed services to the West Michigan community,” said Vicki Poleni, WMU-Grand Rapids Master of Social Work Field Education Coordinator.

During the past year, WMU’s Master of Social Work program provided a total of 48,012 service hours, worth an estimated $1 million in service support provided to community organizations. Students work with organizations to offer direct social work practice experiences with some combination of individuals, families, groups, organizations and communities.

More than 40 local community organizations utilize Master of Social Work students as interns, including the NAACP, Pine Rest, Spectrum Health, Faith Hospice, Network 180, Hope Network and Grand Rapids Home for Veterans.

Other master’s programs in WMU’s Grand Rapids regional location that have contributed service hours include the counselor education, counseling psychology and occupational therapy programs.

Students involved in the counselor education and counseling psychology programs have completed 1,804 hours of service through fieldwork at the Grand Rapids Center for Counseling and Psychological Services. The center has a tri-part mission to provide affordable counseling and psychological services to the residents of southwest Michigan, to enhance training of master’s and doctoral level students and to promote research opportunities for department faculty and students.

Counselor education and counseling psychology students provided various clinical services such as couples counseling, career counseling, crisis intervention, individual counseling, family counseling, psychological evaluations and career/vocational assessment. In the past 15 years, WMU’s graduate students have provided more than 29,000 hours of clinical services to more than 3,100 clients in southwest Michigan.

The occupational therapy program focuses on the use of assessment and intervention to develop, recover or maintain the meaningful activities or occupations of individuals, groups or communities. The master's program averages 14,000 hours of clinic education in Grand Rapids provided by students each year.

Students are first assigned to work with either Mel Trotter Ministries Clinic or Heartside Clinic for their psychosocial fieldwork experience. At the end of the students’ academic work, they are required to take two community-based fieldwork experiences, each three months in duration. The areas of work students contribute to ranges from pediatrics to psychosocial/mental health or physical disabilities, and can be in settings such as hospitals, rehabilitation centers, institutional settings, outpatient programs and schools.