Field Experience FAQ


What is Field Experience?

The Field Experience in Behavioral Healthcare (MHS 4425) course consists of two parts:
• In-class Experience: Student's discuss their observations and experiences, and
• Field Experience: Student's observe and participate with multidisciplinary staff of a provider agency.


Who is required to complete Field Experience in Behavioral Healthcare order to complete their degree?

Behavioral Healthcare Majors with concentrations in:

• Aging and Behavioral Health
• Addictions and Behavioral Health
• Adult Community Services
• Children Mental Health Services

Behavioral Healthcare Minors

*Students with concentrations in Behavioral Healthcare (example: ISS, Health Sciences, etc.) or those in the ABA concentration are eligible to apply for the course & can choose to use it to meet the Capstone requirement, however, placement preference will be given to those who have the course as a requirement.


What courses do I need to complete before I enroll in the field experience course?

Each student's path to the degree may vary depending on their status and concentration, so it is important that each semester you check in with the Behavioral Healthcare Academic Advisor and refer to Degree Works to confirm you are on the right track to graduate with your degree on time.

In general however, before enrolling in the Field Experience course, you must have successfully completed all of the following courses:

• MHS 3411 - Multidisciplinary Behavioral Healthcare (Earned at least a grade of B-)
• MHS 4002 - Behavioral Health Systems Delivery
• MHS 4723 – Pro Seminar: Behavioral Healthcare

Additional course needed, which can be taken before or concurrently with Field Experience:

• MHS 4408 - Exemplary Practices in Behavioral Healthcare Treatment


When should I apply for field experience?

Applications are due approximately two semesters in advance of the semester you intend to take the course. The specific due dates can be found on the field experience main page.


What happens after I submit my application?

1. Application Reviewed: Applications are processed by the Academic Program Specialist, who will respond via email that your application has been received and let you know when to expect contact from the Field Placement Coordinator.
2. Field Planning Meeting Scheduled: The Field Placement Coordinator will send a request for you to schedule your field planning meeting the semester before you are scheduled to take field experience. You should respond to that email with your availability to meet as requested.
3. Field Planning Meeting Conducted: During your field planning meeting, the Field Placement Coordinator will review with you the course objectives & class requirements and answer any questions you may have. You will also be able to provide information about your population & subject areas of interest. The coordinator will then review with you the sites available relating to you interests for you to select potential placement options. Lastly, the coordinator will discuss with you the process of linking you to your agency and what will be required of you to schedule your interview & secure your placement.
4. Placement Availability Confirmed with Agency: After all planning meetings for the semester are complete, the Field Placement Coordinator will reach out to agencies to confirm placement availability and will link each student to his/her site.
5. Linkage Email Sent to Student: Your linkage email will be sent to you approximately 1 1/2 months before the semester begins. When you receive your email it will include contact information for an agency supervisor or Human Resources personnel, and will provide you with instructions on how to schedule & prepare for your interview. At that time it is your responsibility to contact the agency to arrange the meeting. To avoid any delays in securing your placement and to avoid potentially losing the spot, you are expected to respond to that email as soon as you receive it and make the proper arrangements.
6. Interview with Agency: On the day of your interview you should take with you an up-to-date resume and your class & work schedule. Typically during this time, they will provide you with information about the agency, any on-boarding requirements, and answer any questions you may have about the internship process. This is also a good time for you to determine your start date and to discuss your potential schedule.
7. Placement Secured: After the interview, you will then complete any necessary screenings and background checks as required by your agency in the month leading up to class beginning to insure that you have secured your placement and are prepared to begin at your site the first week of classes.


What types of placement locations are there?

The placement list consists of broad range of agency types, including child welfare, crisis counseling, mental health counseling, addictions treatment facilities, in-patient psychiatric, social services, residential foster care, criminal justice, and educational settings. Our agencies provide services for children & families, adolescents, adults, and the aging populations allowing students to work with the population of their interest.


What will I actually get to do while on-site at the agency?

Because of the diversity of placements types, the learning experiences at each site vary greatly. Students are often involved in case management, intake assessment, engaging with the client population, group facilitation, shadowing staff in various positions, observing clinical meetings, completing documentation, and assisting with administrative tasks. You will also be asked to take the time to learn about how the organization functions; how they provide services, how are services funded, what is unique about the client population, and other information to assist you in determining what area in behavioral healthcare you may be interested in working. We encourage you to take initiative and seek out learning opportunities while at your placement, which will help to insure that you maximize the time at your agency.


Am I guaranteed to get placed with the population that I would like to work with?

Placement locations vary from semester to semester depending on any agencies' needs and placement availability. The current site list includes locations that relate to every behavioral healthcare concentration including even some sites with more research & program development focus. Every effort is made to match students with sites that match their interests, but placement at any specific site cannot be guaranteed. To improve your chances of getting a location of your preference, it's important to schedule your field planning meeting as soon as you receive the notification to do so. Site selection is done on a "first meet, first choice" basis - meaning the earlier on you schedule your planning meeting during your planning period the more sites from which you will have to choose.


Is it possible to seek employment with the agency where I am completing my field experience?

At times students are offered employment or want to apply for openings at their sites during the course of the semester. Students are permitted to accept positions with agencies during the semester or after the semester concludes. If a student decides to take a position while the field experience course is in progress, it is important to discuss this with the Field Placement Coordinator to ensure that you will still be able to meet the requirements of the field experience course once your role with the agency changes. While it is rare for paid internships to be offered to undergraduate interns, students are able to obtain paid internships if they are available at any location. Again, please make the Field Placement Coordinator aware that you have accepted a paid internship prior to the start of the semester.


If my current employment is in the field of Behavioral Healthcare, can I use my employer as my field experience placement?

There are instances where you may be able to utilize your employment as your field experience location. There are requirements that have to be met to insure that your employer can be considered a field placement site, which include; signing an affiliation agreement with USF, agreeing to the supervision and hours requirements, and identifying learning opportunities you can do outside of your normal work responsibilities to insure that you are still growing your professional skills and experience during the semester.

If you would like to find out if your employer can meet the requirements, please provide your employer information to the Field Placement Coordinator during your field planning meeting. The coordinator will contact your employer to determine if that location can be utilized for your field experience and will inform you when that process is complete and your placement is confirmed. In the event that your employer does not qualify as a field location, the coordinator will work with you to identify an alternative option for your placement.


If I complete a similar internship or field experience on my own or have other similar work experience, can I be exempt from field experience?

Exemptions for Field Experience can only be given to students who have completed college-level internships while in a degree program, if that internship work is determined to be comparable to the Behavioral Healthcare Field Experience Course. For example, students who have received their AS degrees in Counseling & Human Services from Hillsborough Community College complete 3 internships in that degree program and can be exempted from Field Experience. Previous employment, internships or volunteer work conducted outside of a college program do not meet the requirement for exemption, as they are not completed with the required on-site supervision, course instruction or course grade to utilize for substitution.

If you have questions about specific internship work that you have done and want to know if it qualifies, please contact your academic advisor or field placement coordinator.


What could get in the way of me being able to complete a field experience?

• Not having met the prerequisite and co-requisite course requirements by the semester you intend to take Field Experience.
• Submitting your application after the deadline - The specific due dates for applications can be found on the field experience webpage. Once you meet with the academic advisor and determine the semester for you to take field, it is important to check the webpage to make sure you are aware of the date your application will be due and submit it on time.
• Legal infractions - positions in behavioral healthcare routinely require criminal background screenings, drug screenings, and other types of screenings prior to internship placements and/or employment. Students with legal infractions often find they are unable to secure positions in the field.


I have a past criminal record or legal infractions that I'm concerned might prevent me from completing the Field Experience course. What do I do? Does it mean I can't get my degree?

It is important that you disclose any background information that may prevent your placement early on in your degree pursuit.

If you have areas of concern, please arrange to meet with the Academic Advisor and Field Experience Coordinator so we can help you determine alternatives that will assist with your successful completion of the degree. Be advised that USF has no influence to circumvent screenings at any agency.

 How do I apply?