Developing a Policy on
Sharing Sensitive Information About
Students with Field Instructors
Linda Cherrey Reeser and Robert Wertkin
Faculty liaisons and field instructors serve an important function as critical gatekeepers for the profession. Students who do well in the classroom sometimes perform poorly in field placement as a result of unresolved emotional issues, traumas, disabilities, or illnesses. In some instances these issues, problems, and conditions make students unsuitable for working with certain client populations or even for entering the social work profession in general. If relevant personal information about students is kept from field directors, liaisons, or field instructors, inappropriate matches may be made between students and field placements, the student's learning may be adversely affected, and clients may be harmed.
Most schools have no policy for sharing sensitive information about students with field instructors; rather, field directors handle each situation on a case-by-case basis (Alperin 1989). Field directors do not uniformly agree that sensitive information about students should be shared with field instructors (Alperin 1989; Conklin and Borecki 1988; Reeser 1992). The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Code of Ethics (1996) does not
Some of the data reported in this chapter were reported earlier in the following article, used with permission of the publisher: Reeser, L. C., and Wertkin, R. A. (1997). Sharing sensitive student information with field instructors: Responses of students, liaisons, and field instructors. Journal of Social Work Education 33:347–362.