Social Worker recognized for field instruction


Social Worker Darina Vasek has been honoured with the Sheila Sammon Award for Excellence in Field Instruction.

Vasek, who works at Nina’s Place at Joseph Brant Hospital in Burlington and as spent 12 years as a Social Work field instructor.

Nominated by her students and peers for her ongoing commitment to field education in social work, Vasek is widely known for her passion for helping students grow and develop their skills and readiness for the complexities of skilled and ethical practice.

“My field instructor created a space where I was able develop knowledge and experience for best practice, and also created a space where I felt capable of reaching the goals I had set for myself at the beginning of placement,” says Samantha Estrela Case Coordinator, Intensive Case Management for Seniors at Risk, Catholic Family Services of Hamilton

The contribution of field instructors like Vasek is made even more significant by the growing challenges social work field education face in finding supervisors and placements for students across the country.

With more competition for placements due to social work program expansion in the last decade, budget cuts and restructuring in social work agencies have led to increased workload demands for social workers.

“Field practice is where it all comes together and is one of the most important elements in the education of future social workers.”, says Janice Chaplin, School of Social Work, Faculty Field Co-ordinator and Assistant Professor. “Students are excited about getting into the real world and working with individuals, communities and groups to test out their knowledge and skills to finally practice what they have been taught in the classroom.”

In a climate where social workers are being asked to do more with less, the selfless contributions of the more than 350 McMaster School of Social Work field instructors from 125 agencies are more important than ever. The contribution these individuals make to our community and the education of the next generation of social workers is remarkable.

About the Shelia Sammon Award:

The Shelia Sammon Award was established in 2016 in recognition of Professor Sheila Sammon’s outstanding contributions to social work practice and field education over almost three decades: in the School of Social Work at McMaster, in the Hamilton community, and in her leadership in social work education provincially and nationally. With wisdom, skill and generosity, Sheila supported the development of generations of students, practitioners and educators striving, like her, toward the ethical and just practice of social work.

The Award is conferred annually on a Field Instructor who has made exceptional contributions to social work students’ learning and professional development and to the School’s field education program and who, in doing so, extends Sheila’s commitment to skilled and just practice.