Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Social Work Interns: Supporting Military Families

In 2012, Hope For The Warriors® welcomed Master of Social Work interns from Fordham University, Columbia University, and the University of Southern California. Currently, Hope For The Warriors® also has students from the Touro University, Eastern Carolina University, and Southern Illinois State University. 

By working with Master of Social Work interns, Hope For The Warriors® has been able to expand its services in case and crisis management, clinical intervention and support, organization development, and grant research and writing.  Through this expansion, we are able to positively impact military service members, veterans and their families.  The organization continues to develop and expand upon an environment that promotes educational development for the MSW interns. The ultimate goal of our work with each intern is to ensure that they graduate and enter the field of social work with thorough understanding of the needs and challenges of today’s military family and a respect for their service and sacrifice.

Today’s blog is written by Chrystal, one of our incredible social work interns.

Social work intern prepares to meet service members

As an MSW intern enrolled with the University of Southern California (USC), I can personally speak about my experience as an intern, gaining experience and insight with Hope For The Warriors®.  I enrolled into the full-time graduate program offered by the university’s Virtual Academic Center (MSW@USC). The program includes a foundation year and a concentration year, both with nine month field placements along with a full-time course schedule.  My concentration is Community Organization and Public Administration (COPA) with a sub-concentration in Military Social Work.  Both my foundation year placement and my current concentration year placement have included projects in which I work with both the specific population of interest and the community as a whole.  Through these projects, I have learned to observe the social problem and its direct and indirect effects economically, socially, and culturally through research methods and processes of evaluation.

At USC, MSW students have the opportunity to further their education through additional training and coursework that can be directly applied to the student’s field placement.  Students receive certification in both Motivational Interviewing and Problem Solving Therapy after completing the required training hours.  Along with these certifications, the Code of Ethics published by The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) is incorporated into the foundation year coursework in preparation for students entering the field and remains constant throughout the concentration year.  The Code of Ethics is a set of values and standards to guide decision making and ethical dilemmas (NASW, 2013).  These principles include cultural competence, commitment to clients and interdisciplinary collaboration (NASW, 2013).

The MSW program offers a wide range of core programs of the MSW profession, which is an asset to the field placement agency or organization.  Such classes include: social work practice with families, groups, and complex cases; human behavior and social environment;  management for community and social services; evaluation of research; clinical practice with service members and their families; leadership in the social work profession and organizations; etc.  Students are also enrolled in classes that directly correspond to their internship.  For instance, professors regularly require students to incorporate course material and examples from their field placements into their assignments. 

While in placement, students have a faculty field liaison, a field instructor and a preceptor to provide a support network for the student.   Along with the structure and requirements placed on the graduate students, there are requirements for agency staff members too.  The faculty field liaison is a university professor and the field instructor is an individual in the agency with at least a Master in Social Work that can offer supervision.  Most academic institutions require the field supervisor to have a minimum of three (3) years post graduate studies and a state license as a MSW.

Although requirements vary slightly from state to state, most states require 1,000 to 1,500 hours of field work and supervision.  These clinical hours are required of MSW students in order to graduate and become a licensed social work professional.   

Learn more about MSW@USC
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National Association of Social Workers (2013). Retrieved from: http://www.naswdc.org/

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