Addressing professional suitability in social work education
Keywords:Gatekeeping, social work education, professional suitability, field education coordinator, field instructors, Faculty liaisons
Limited research exists pertaining to field education coordinators’ leadership and educational practice in general, or with respect to the specific topic of gatekeeping in social work education. This article presents the results of a Canadian study that investigates the experience and approach of field education coordinators in addressing student professional suitability concerns. This exploratory study consists of a focus group conducted with field education coordinators from across Canada, and an extensive web-based survey questionnaire administered to all current, and some former social work field education coordinators in Canada. In brief, the results of this study reinforce the perception found in social work literature that gatekeeping predominantly falls to the field component of social work education. Findings of the study provide insight into the location of field education within academia; and highlights the important leadership role undertaken by field education coordinators in supporting students, faculty liaisons, field educators, and university administration in addressing concerns related to student professional suitability. Implications for social work education are discussed.