Manual Processes Were No Longer Viable
The Field Education team at Massachusetts-based William James College, a leader in experiential education, behavioral health, and psychology education, needed a solution to support streamlining management of their field placement programs.
With approximately 600 training sites, over 800 students, and a complex operating environment, the small field education team needed to replace a homegrown system that was difficult to use and required heavy additional manual processing.
Cheryl MacDonald, Assistant Director Field Education at William James College, explained that the team had been working with "an inefficient system that was costly and cumbersome to manage." In fact, a team of students had to be hired to work throughout the year to support the manual placement processes, which added more cost to the program.
Sonia Met the Team's Requirements and Came with Glowing Endorsements
Cheryl worked with the William James College IT team to determine the right solution. During a project to replace a campus-wide ERP system, a review was undertaken to select an appropriate student placement management solution.
The team considered many software options but, apart from Sonia, no other software solutions met their requirements.
Sonia stood as the clear choice for the team because:
- Sonia is developed specifically for field placement use and does not require extensive retooling, customization and additional cost that comes with that;
- Sonia allows the team to work across multiple degree programs and training levels, ensuring training requirements and competencies are accurately managed based on specific licensing and accreditation regulations;
- Sonia is highly customizable, and can be configured to suit any department's unique placement needs;
- Sonia offers superior reporting capabilities.
The team also ran a thorough customer reference check process with current Sonia customers. They received overwhelmingly positive feedback about both the Sonia product and the US-based support team.
The ability to meet the William James team’s requirements, coupled with glowing customer reviews, made it an easy decision. “Sonia could do what we needed, without a doubt,” said Cheryl.
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A Well-Designed Implementation Drove Success
William James College established a project committee to manage the implementation in partnership with QSR’s team of Sonia Experts and Support staff.
Sonia’s Student Importer was a critical feature during the implementation process, as it allowed William James’ staff to integrate Sonia with its campus management system so data could be updated seamlessly between the systems. “Sonia’s Student Importer offers huge benefits for schools with a large placement population,” said Abigail Manwell, QSR’s Sonia Product Expert for North America. “It ensures placement data is up to date and accurate, and our API allows us to work with virtually every campus management system on the market today.”
When the time was right, Cheryl launched a pilot program with students. This important step helped the team fine tune processes before launching more widely. Following the pilot, Sonia was very successfully launched with two degree programs, with a third to follow soon. The team customized Sonia to support each degree program's unique requirements.
Accolades and Happy Customers
Sites, students and the field education team are thrilled with the benefits of Sonia.
Sites are delighted. William James received feedback from sites saying they love the “nifty new system”, and it is so much easier for them to update their information. They can attach resources like videos and brochures to better market themselves to students, which they see as a tremendous benefit.
Students can now more easily complete site searches. "Sites can be identified very quickly based on a specific requirement, like client age, setting, and treatment modality. And updating information like email addresses is simple, no longer taking six steps! You can just do it all in one place. It's remarkable," said Cheryl.
In addition to managing student placements, Cheryl uses Sonia for site development – nurturing partnerships with new and existing placement sites. Previously managed in Excel, agencies and next steps are now easily tracked in Sonia.
Not only is the field education team now more successful, but they are also acquiring marketable new skills and garnering kudos for delivering a solution with strong organizational efficiencies.
When asked if Cheryl would recommend Sonia to other field education offices, “Oh, a thousand percent! This is an amazing product.”
About William James College
Founded in 1974, William James College is an independent, non-profit institution and a leader in educating the next generation of mental health professionals to support the growing and diverse needs of the mental health workforce. Integrating field work with academics, the College prepares students for careers as organizational leaders and behavioral health professionals who are committed to helping the underserved, multicultural populations, children and families, and veterans. William James College alumni can be found making an impact in a variety of settings, including schools, the courts, clinical care facilities, hospitals, the community and the workplace.
Sonia, developed by QSR International, is a student placement solution and central hub for program data management that supports improvements and efficiencies for work integrated learning programs.