A Pandemic Road Map

Creating Social Work Student Wellness Plans in Field Placement


  • Susan Reay University of Nebraska at Omaha




self-care, wellness, field placement, social work


During the unprecedented early stages of COVID-19, few protocols were established to support overall student wellness in social work field placements. In response to the overwhelming need for a contextual framework to promote wellness and determine the next steps in mitigating health risks, faculty developed a unique solution in a dynamic situation. Rooted in the university-sponsored dimensions of wellness, BSW and MSW students developed wellness plans that were integrated into the field placement course. These plans were intended to enhance students' ability to evaluate their well-being and encourage them to plan wellness activities. The wellness plan was critical in determining a student's ability to continue their planned learning activities amidst broad systemic factors, which impacted their social work field placement experiences. Developing the wellness plan encouraged students to articulate unmet needs and provided a mechanism for faculty to offer relevant university-sponsored resources. This model provides a framework with implications for social work education. The prioritization of student wellness during field placement creates a road map for the future. Given that wellness is an essential component of social work practice, social work students must have the tools to evaluate and implement wellness strategies, which can be applied throughout the student's social work career.

Author Biography

Susan Reay, University of Nebraska at Omaha

Susan Reay is an Assistant Professor at the Grace Abbott School of Social Work in Omaha, Nebraska. Dr. Reay's prior experience includes 25 years of clinical social work practice. She also holds significant experience as a non-profit clinical director and administrator of multiple behavioral health education programs in the private sector. Dr. Reay specializes in evidence-based mental health for treating youth psychopathology, ethics, licensure, and research-to-practice initiatives.

Dr. Reay serves on several boards, including the Nebraska Board of Mental Health Practice. She represents Nebraska social workers at the International Association of Social Work Board meetings and is the Nebraska voting member on social work model practice, regulation, and licensure. Dr. Reay was the Training and Technical Assistance Project Coordinator for the Nebraska System of Care SAMHSA grant and coordinator for a $1.3 million HRSA grant for social work education.

Dr. Reay frequently speaks on topics such as Ethics in Human Services, Women's Health, Wellness, and Eating Disorders. She provides clinical and programmatic consultation for providers supporting individuals with developmental disabilities and outpatient mental health therapy services focusing on eating disorders and women's issues. Dr. Reay received both her Bachelor and Masters in Social Work from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. She received her Doctorate in Education from the College of Saint Mary in 2020.

 Dr. Reay received the Social Worker of the Year-Eastern Region Award from the Nebraska Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW-NE) in 2012 and the Lifetime Achievement Award from NASW-NE in 2018. Dr. Reay lives in Omaha, Nebraska, with her 15-year old son.


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