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Information for Practicum Sites

Purpose of Practicum

Practicum is a way in which students can access different facets of the community. This experience can help lead students on career choice paths and give them a chance to utilize their skills in the 'real world'. A practicum can be fun and offer many gifts when properly coordinated and facilitated by students, sites and University of Calgary personnel.

The rewards of practicum placements for students can be numerous. Sometimes they may go unnoticed and not realized until days, months or even years later. Rewards may be professional, personal or both. Personal rewards include skill development, greater awareness of likes and dislikes and more. The most important reward may be life experience and enjoyment. Helping another person, participating in the community and sharing with others will intensify the students' life experience. Rewards are reciprocal; your energy rewards others. A practicum is a mutually beneficial experience. As much as you learn from the students they learn from you as well.

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Why are Practica so important?

Practicum courses allow students to gain valuable experience in community rehabilitation under the supervision of people currently working in the field. This allows students the opportunities to learn about current issues and approaches and to apply the theory learned in their courses to rehabilitation practice. Practicum students are an integral part of the future of the community rehabilitation field. The students you are working with may someday be co-workers, supervisors, executive directors or sit on influential boards. The experience they gain from your agency is a reflection of you.

Practicum students will be future Community Rehabilitation Practitioners. Expectations and training opportunities should be consistent with those you apply to colleagues and employees.

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Forms

There are three forms that are filled out by an agency when requesting a practicum student.

  1. Practicum Student Request Form: (Appendix A). This is used as a formal request by agencies for practicum students. Requests can also be made by contacting the Practicum Coordinator.
  2. Job Description: (Appendix B) This is a new form that will provide the students and you the agency with a comprehensive outline of what the student will do while at your site. These job descriptions will be downloaded into a database that the students will access in order to choose a practicum site. This is a very important form to complete, as we want to ensure the best fit for you and the student. Sample of Job Description (Appendix C).
  3. Contract between Agency and the University of Calgary regarding responsibilities and general agreements (Appendix H).

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Processes involved for requesting a Practicum Student

The CRDS program prides themselves on a productive working partnership with community organizations. We are always receptive and happy to discuss new and ongoing practicum ideas. Please contact us at anytime.

Formal requests for practicum opportunities may be initiated by an agency with a particular project in mind, or by a student who has an interest in gaining experience in a particular area of rehabilitation. All requests are made through the Practicum Coordinator who will then match students with practicum sites. It is your responsibility to complete a job description form and submit it to the practicum coordinator in order to fulfill your request. (See Appendix B)

We welcome discussion regarding practicum ideas at any point. However in order to facilitate effective practicum matches, deadlines for submission of completed Practicum Request Forms and Practicum Job Descriptions are as follows:

Fall semester (September-December) deadline is July 31
Winter semester (January-April) deadline is October 31
Spring semester (May-June) deadline is March 31

Requests for practicum students and practicum course information are available on the Internet at the University of Calgary Students Union Volunteer Services site www.su.ucalgary.ca

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Supervision

The Practicum Coordinator or Course Instructor will meet formally with the student and site-facilitator on three occasions

  1. At the start of the practicum to establish student activities, discuss possible goals, and to initiate the Student Learning Contract (see Appendix D).
  2. Mid-semester to discuss student progress including strengths and areas requiring further development (see Appendix F).
  3. A final meeting to give feedback regarding student performance in relation to learning goals identified. (see Appendix F).

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Practicum Student Liability and Coverage

Students are covered during their practicum hours under two sources

  1. Student Health and Dental Plan: Students must either join the University of Calgary plan or provide proof of existing coverage. Coverage is provided regardless of the location or source of the accident.
  2. Worker's Compensation through the Government of Alberta: Through the Minster of Human Resources and Employment, the Government of Alberta carries W.C.B. coverage for all University students. Because practicum experience is part of the core curriculum, practicum students are covered. Regular claim policies and procedures are followed and the government account is debited.

If students are hurt or injured, the process of obtaining help or assistance would be to immediately attend to any medical needs and then phone and file an accident report with

Security Dispatch at 220 5333

If a student is transporting a client in his/her vehicle and the client is hurt in an accident the University of Calgary does not provide coverage in this instance. Coverage would follow the regular channels through the studentıs vehicle insurance. It is not acceptable for practicum students to transport clients in their vehicles, nor to drive agency vehicles without arranging for coverage and liability.

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Being an Effective Practicum Site

The following are some ways in which to make the practicum experience a great one for you and your practicum student. For some students this may be their first time working in the rehabilitation field so it is important to...

  • Keep practicum students involved - this can be as simple as inviting them to a meeting or a social. By including students in agency events, they feel more like a team member.
  • Have clear goals and expectations - by having clear goals and expectations, the student and you the agency, will be able to make this experience as effective and successful as possible. This involves a clear understanding of studentsı roles.
  • Be flexible - it is important to remember that practicum students are also university students, many taking a full course load of five classes per semester.
  • Never allow students to feel unwanted - some students may feel that they are hindering you or that their time with you is more of a nuisance than a help. Everyone has busy schedules but by letting students know your schedule it will better allow them to feel like you are taking time for them.
  • Introduce the student to all staff members of the agency - This would include an overview of routines and processes such as signing in and out, parking, file retrieval etc.)
  • Provide a structure - when the student knows what their job entails and whom they can talk to when they have questions it will eliminate confusion.
  • Give honest and sincere praise - effective and positive praise on a job well done is invaluable.
  • Give students a title - by giving the students a title with the job description they can identify themselves to others working at the agency and have a sense of pride in what they are doing for you.

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Supervision and Grading

As a site facilitator it is also your role to provide the student with a supervisor be it yourself or someone who may be working directly with or near the student. The field of community rehabilitation can be at times stressful, demanding and frustrating both physically and emotionally. Discussing specific concerns, issues, problems and successes can help teach the students to deal with and alleviate those stresses. Supervision is essential for studentsı morale, for maintaining objectivity and for the development of competent community rehabilitation practitioners.

Perhaps the most essential characteristic of good supervision is feedback on studentıs performance. Providing feedback on your practicum studentıs successes and growth areas is an integral part of their development and learning. Feedback should come from the studentıs site supervisor. The feedback should be ongoing and frequent from the beginning of the practicum until the end. In order to learn from mistakes students must be informed of them so they can be given the opportunity to correct them. Feedback should be clear, immediate, direct and stated in understandable language. Feedback should be based on strengths and limitations as well as positive and negative comments.

Agency personnel do not assign grades. They are assigned by Course Instructors. However, student self-assessment and feedback from agency personnel inform grade determination. We use this feedback to establish student grades based on pre-established criteria (See Appendix G)

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Role of Site Facilitator

The site facilitator is the staff member within the host agency who will be most closely involved with the student. This individual will be asked to:

  • Provide the student with an orientation to the practicum site including policies and procedures.
  • Make sure the student has filled out all the relevant forms and applications necessary to fill the position. The University of Calgary will not pay for the Calgary Police Inspection Check or Child Welfare Safety Check.
  • Orientate the student to issues around confidentiality - areas that should be covered are whether incidents/clientsı names can be mentioned in class discussions, papers, etc.
  • Provide students with an opportunity to practically experience operations in the field of rehabilitation.
  • Supervise the contracted work of the student and offer suggestions if applicable or requested.
  • Provide performance feedback to the student periodically throughout the course of the practicum.
  • To inform the course instructor or practicum coordinator of any notable concerns.
  • To provide feedback on overall performance and contracted assignments to student and instructor/practicum coordinator.
  • Design a job description for the practicum student so all parties involved have a clear understanding of the roles and responsibilities of the student.
  • Time commitment is up to you and the role in which your student is at in your agency. It is important to meet with the student weekly to discuss events and expectations.

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What are the benefits to my agency?

Practicum experiences also benefit the host agency. Students offer new ideas, contribute to an evolving community and may provide additional support in tough economic times. As well, todayıs students make up tomorrowıs workforce. Agencies can contribute to high quality service delivery by mentoring students. Practicum opportunities allow agencies to train and assess potential future employees - many of our students have been recruited and hired by their host agencies.

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Interviewing Students

When more than one student has requested the same position with your practicum setting, interviews must be conducted. These will be informal interviews conducted by the site facilitator. The purpose of the interview is to select the best student to fill the job you have submitted to the practicum coordinator. Many students may take practica in areas in which they have little to no exposure, therefore picking a practicum student should not be based on their previous experience. Criteria should be based on transferable skills, match of student to site and demonstrated enthusiasm.

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