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Publication Date


Document Type



School for Social Work


Social work education-Fieldwork, Social work education-Study and teaching (Internship), Field education, Field liaison, Gatekeeping, MSW students, Field internship, Social workers-Supervision of


The field liaison role in social work field education is responsible for overseeing a major component of student learning, the field internship, thus providing a variety of educational and gatekeeping functions. Yet little is known about the role, specifically as a gatekeeper or how it is performed. The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore how field liaisons understand, perform and address challenges in their gatekeeping roles with 1st and 2nd year MSW students in the clinical practice method. And, what do they recommend to support effective gatekeeping practices? Twenty individual interviews were conducted with field liaisons from four accredited social work programs in the Northeast region of the United States. Thematic analysis provided a conceptual framework to highlight field liaisons' challenges with students that were on a micro, mezzo and macro level. Two major themes emerged, use of self and the nature of relationship that point to the varied ways field liaisons conceptualize and perform their gatekeeping roles. Major findings reveal the importance of 'time' for relationship building and assessment of students; the need for communication, process and connection with those within students' educational worlds and training and support of gatekeeping practices, as effective gatekeeping strategies. Recommendations are offered that support gatekeeping practices within social work field education.




xi, 147 pages. Dissertation (Ph.D.)--Smith College School for Social Work, 2015. Includes bibliographical references (pages 116-126)