A Mixed Methods Examination of MSW Student Satisfaction With Integrated Behavioral Health Field Placements





student satisfaction, integrated health, field placements


Social workers must be prepared to work effectively within systems that attempt to maximize coordination where integrated behavioral health care is provided. Current students are the profession’s pipeline to the behavioral health workforce. If social work students are dissatisfied with the training they receive in integrated health care settings, they may be deterred from interprofessional collaborative practice. This study examined MSW students’ satisfaction with integrated behavioral health field placement experiences. Thirty-three students completed an online survey that asked about factors associated with field placement satisfaction, and nine of these students participated in two focus groups to explore other aspects of the field setting that influenced satisfaction. Survey results revealed that as role ambiguity increased, student satisfaction decreased. Focus group findings uncovered that the profession’s influence within the field setting and the presence of support by professionals from other disciplines promoted students’ satisfaction. These results suggest that educators should help students develop skills in tolerating role ambiguity and asking for role clarification as part of supervision when placements are in these settings. MSW faculty and field education directors may want to collaborate with integrated behavioral health providers to assess organizational climate and identify ways to foster inclusive interprofessional collaborative practices and a culture of cross-profession respect.

Author Biographies

Michael Clarkson-Hendrix, State University of New York at Fredonia

Michael Clarkson-Hendrix, PhD, MSW is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociocultural and Justice Sciences at the State University of New York at Fredonia. Michael’s research targets health services, with a focus on reducing sociodemographic disparities in access and quality of care, especially for vulnerable groups, including people with disabilities and veterans and their families. Michael has extensive practice experience in the areas of mental and behavioral health as well as child welfare.

Lynn A. Warner, University at Albany, State University of New York

Lynn Warner is Professor and Dean of the School of Social Welfare at the University at Albany, State University of New York. Her research interests are in disparities in access to and utilization of mental health and substance abuse services and racial-ethnic differences in behavioral health risk and protective factors.


Acquavita, S. P., Anne Van Loon, R., Smith, R., Brehm, B., Diers, T., Kim, K., & Baker, A. (2019). The SBIRT interprofessional curriculum and field model. Journal of Social Work Practice in the Addictions, 19(1-2), 10-25. https://doi.org/10.1080/1533256X.2019.1589883

Asarnow, J. R., Hoagwood, K. E., Stancin, T., Lochman, J. E., Hughes, J. L., Miranda, J. M., Wysocki, T., Portwood, S. G., Piacentini, J., Tynan, D., Atkins, M., & Kazak, A. E. (2015). Psychological science and innovative strategies for informing health care redesign: A policy brief. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 44(6), 923-932. https://doi.org/10.1080/15374416.2015.1077451

Bilodeau, A., Dumont, S., Hagan, L., Paré, L., Razmpoosh, M., Houle, N., Brière, N., & Iloko-Fundi, M. (2010). Interprofessional education at Laval University: Building an integrated curriculum for patient-centred practice. Journal of Interprofessional Care, 24(5), 524-535. https://doi.org/10.3109/13561821003724026

Bronstein, L. (2002). Index of interdisciplinary collaboration. Social Work Research, 26(2), 113-126. https://doi.org/10.1093/swr/26.2.113

Bureau of Labor Statistics U.S. Department of Labor. (2018). Occupational outlook handbook, Social workers. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/social-workers.htm#tab-3

Chung, Y., & Chun, J. (2015). Workplace stress and job satisfaction among child protective service workers in South Korea: Focusing on the buffering effects of protective factors. Children and Youth Services Review, 57, 134-140. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2015.08.007

Cleak, H., & Smith, D. (2012). Student satisfaction with models of field placement supervision. Australian Social Work, 65(2), 243-258. https://doi.org/10.1080/0312407X.2011.572981

Collin, C. R., Putney, J. M., Halmo, R., Ogden, L., & Mcmanama O’brien, K. H. (2019). MSW students’ use of SBIRT: Toward an understanding of the gap between classroom and field education. Journal of Social Work Practice in the Addictions, 19(1-2), 100-107. https://doi.org/10.1080/1533256X.2019.1589885

Collins, C., Lewis Hewson, D., Munger, R., & Wade, T. (2010). Evolving models of behavioral health integration in primary care. http://www.milbank.org/reports/10430EvolvingCare/EvolvingCare.pdf

Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. (2019). Substance use prevention. https://www.hiltonfoundation.org/priorities/substance-use-prevention

Council on Social Work Education [CSWE]. (2015). Educational policy and accreditation standards for baccalaureate and master’s social work programs. http://www.cswe.org/File.aspx?id=81660

Danna, K., & Griffin, R. (1999). Health and well-being in the workplace: A review and synthesis of the literature. Journal of Management, 25(3), 357-384.

Elliott, K. M., & Healy, M. A. (2001). Key factors influencing student satisfaction related to recruitment and retention. Journal of Marketing for Higher Education, 10(4), 1-11. https://doi.org/10.1300/J050v10n04_01

Fortune, A. E., McCarthy, M., & Abramson, J. S. (2001). Student learning processes in field education: Relationship of learning activities to quality of field instruction, satisfaction, and performance among MSW students. Journal of Social Work Education, 37(1), 111-124. http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip,url,cookie,uid&db=a9h&AN=4047376&site=ehost-live&scope=site

Garrison, D. R., Cleveland-Innes, M., & Fung, T. S. (2010). Exploring causal relationships among teaching, cognitive and social presence: Student perceptions of the community of inquiry framework. The Internet and Higher Education, 13(1-2), 31-36. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.iheduc.2009.10.002

Gillet, N., Fouquereau, E., Lafrenière, M. A. K., & Huyghebaert, T. (2016). Examining the roles of work autonomous and controlled motivations on satisfaction and anxiety as a function of role ambiguity. The Journal of Psychology, 150(5), 644-665. https://doi.org/10.1080/00223980.2016.1154811

Habib, M., Labruna, V., Komos Hartmann, J., Joyce, P., & Mcateer, J. (2019). Comparing changes in SBIRT knowledge, confidence, and readiness among students and community providers. Journal of Social Work Practice in the Addictions, 19(1-2), 78-91. https://doi.org/10.1080/1533256X.2019.1590704

Horevitz, E., & Manoleas, P. (2013). Professional competencies and training needs of professional social workers in integrated behavioral health in primary care. Social Work in Health Care, 52, 752-787. https://doi.org/10.1080/00981389.2013.791362

Jones, A., Norman, C., & Wier, B. (2010). Healthy lifestyle as a coping mechanism for role stress in public accounting. Behavioral Research in Accounting, 22(1), 21-41.

Kanno, H., & Koeske, G. F. (2010). MSW students’ satisfaction with their field placements: The role of preparedness and supervision quality. Journal of Social Work Education, 46(1), 23-38. https://doi.org/10.5175/JSWE.2010.200800066

Lee, S. J., & Shipe, S. L. (2014). Influences on interdisciplinary collaboration among social work and health sciences students. Advances in Social Work, 15(2), 352-367. https://doi.org/10.18060/16686

Lo, C. C. (2010). How student satisfaction factors affect perceived learning. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 10(1), 47-54. http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/recordDetail?accno=EJ882125

Luecht, R. M., Madsen, M. K., Taugher, M. M. P., & Petterson, B. B. J. (1990). Assessing professional perceptions: Design and validation of an interdisciplinary education perception scale. Journal of Allied Health, 12(2), 181-191.

Lundgren, L., & Krull, I. (2014). The Affordable Care Act: New opportunities for social work to take leadership in behavioral health and addiction treatment. Journal of the Society for Social Work and Research, 5(4), 415-438. https://doi.org/10.1086/679302

Osofsky, H. J., Osofsky, J. D., Hansel, T. C., & Flynn, T. (2017). The Louisiana Mental and Behavioral Health Capacity Project trauma-informed integrated care model and improved posttraumatic stress outcomes. Journal of Public Health Management and Practice, 23(6), S25-S31. https://doi.org/10.1097/PHH.0000000000000652

Paoline, E. A., Lambert, E. G., & Hogan, N. L. (2015). Job stress and job satisfaction among jail staff: Exploring gendered effects. Women and Criminal Justice, 25(5), 339-359. https://doi.org/10.1080/08974454.2014.989302

Park-Lee, E., Lipari, R. N., Hedden, S. L., Kroutil, L. A., & Porter, J. D. (2017). Receipt of services for substance use and mental health issues among adults: Results from the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. In NSDUH Data Review (Issue September). https://www.samhsa.gov/data/report/receipt-services-substance-use-and-mental-health-issues-among-adults-results-2016-national

Park, J., Hawkins, W., Hawkins, M., & Hamlin, E. (2013). Attitudes toward interprofessional collaboration among students in the health care professions. Advances in Social Work, 14(2), 556-572. https://doi.org/10.18060/2953

Ray-Sannerud, B. N., Dolan, D. C., Morrow, C. E., Corso, K. A., Kanzler, K. E., Corso, M. L., & Bryan, C. J. (2012). Longitudinal outcomes after brief behavioral health intervention in an integrated primary care clinic. Families, Systems and Health, 30(1), 60-71. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0027029

Rishel, C. W., Hartnett, H. P., & Davis, B. L. (2016). Preparing MSW students to provide integrated behavioral health services in rural communities: The importance of relationshipos in knowledge-building and practice. Advances in Social Work, 17(2), 151-165. https://doi.org/10.18060/18765

Runyan, C. N. (2011). Psychology can be indispensable to health care reform and the patient-centered medical home. Psychological Services, 8(2), 53-68. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0023454

Smith, A., Choi, N., Fuqua, D., & Newman, J. (2011). Role ambiguity as a moderator of occupational self-efficacy and job satisfaction. Psychological Reports, 109(1), 243-251. https://doi.org/10.2466/01.07.21.PR0.109.4.243-251

Stamm, B. H. (2010). The concise ProQOL manual (2nd ed.). ProQOL.org.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration [SAMHSA]. (2017). Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (HHS Publication No. SMA 17-5044, NSDUH Series H-52). https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUH-FFR1-2016/NSDUH-FFR1-2016.htm U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration. (2019). Goal 2: Foster a health care workforce able to address current and emerging needs. https://www.hrsa.gov/about/strategic-plan/goal-2.html

Vinjamuri, M., Ogden, L. P., & Kahn, J. M. (2019). Student, faculty, and field instructor approaches to SBIRT implementation. Advances in Social Work, 18(4), 1218-1236. https://doi.org/10.18060/22333

Wang, Y., & Chui, E. (2016). An exploratory path model of social work students’ satisfaction with field education experience in China. Social Work Research, 40(3), 135-145. https://doi.org/10.1093/swr/svw010

Wayne, J., Raskin, M., & Bogo, M. (2010). Field education as the signature pedagogy of social work education. Journal of Social Work Education, 46(3), 327-339. https://doi.org/10.5175/JSWE.2010.200900043

West, A., Miller, S., & Leitch, J. (2017). Professional socialization and attitudes towards interprofessional collaboration among graduate social work and health professions students. Advances in Social Work, 17(2), 134-150. https://doi.org/10.18060/19809

World Health Organization [WHO]. (2010). Framework for action on interprofessional education & collaborative practice. http://www.who.int/hrh/nursing_midwifery/en/