Transition to Professional Social Work Practice: The First Three Years

Authors

  • Sonya Hunt University of Waikato
  • Melanie Tregurtha University of Waikato
  • Albert Kuruvila University of Waikato
  • Simon Lowe University of Waikato
  • Kelly Smith University of Waikato

Keywords:

Newly Qualified Social Worker, Transition from Social Work Graduate to Professional Practice, ; Social Work Competencies, Professional Support

Abstract

This article presents the findings of a longitudinal research project that followed the employment outcomes of one cohort of Bachelor of Social Work graduates for three years. Prior to graduation, students receive professional preparation that develops their ability to critically engage with theory and practice. Following graduation, newly qualified social workers require quality induction, supervision and other workload management strategies to support the transition to social work practice. The development of this study was fuelled by political criticism of social work education. Additionally, there was a desire to track the employment outcomes of the graduates and understand what supported their transition to competent professional practice.

The findings fit within a five-year longitudinal research project that follows three separate graduate cohorts each for three years to seek and compare participants’ experiences for their first three years post-qualification. An anonymous, semi-structured, on-line survey was used to provide both quantitative and qualitative data. By the second year of practice, these respond- ents were taking on the workload of an experienced social work practitioner with widely varied levels of support. By the end of their third year in practice, they reported that they had found little opportunity to apply their critical analytical academic skills to consider the wider social system in practice. Further, the graduates’ confidence in their cultural competencies also gradually decreased over the three-year period.

References

ANZASW. (2013). Code of ethics (3rd ed.). Christchurch, New Zealand: Author.

ANZASW. (2015). ANZASW Supervision Policy. Christchurch, New Zealand: Author. Retrieved from http://anzasw.org.nz/ about/topics/show/196-policy-documents.

Ballantyne, N. (2016, August 4). An outcomes-based approach to social work education? [Blog post]. Retrieved from http:// www.reimaginingsocialwork.nz/2016/08/an-outcomes-based-approach-to-social-work-education/#more-914

Bates, N., Immins, T., Parker, J., Keen, S., Rutter, L., Brown, K., & Zsigo, S. (2010). “Baptism of fire”: The first year in the life of a newly qualified social worker. Social Work Education, 29(2), 152–170. doi:10.1080/02615470902856697

Beddoe, L. (2014). A matter of degrees: The role of education in the professionalisation journey of social work in New Zealand.

Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work, 26(2/3), 17–28.

Beddoe, L., Davys, A. M., & Adamson, C. (2014). “Never trust anybody who says ‘I don’t need supervision’: Practitioners’ beliefs about social worker resilience. Practice, 26(2), 113–130. doi:10.1080/09503153.2014.896888

Bradley, G. (2008). The induction of newly appointed social workers: Some implications for social work educators. Social Work Education, 27(4), 349–365. doi:10.1080/02615470701380170

Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2013). Successful qualitative research: A practical guide for beginners. London, England: Sage. Bryman, A. (2012). Social research methods (4th ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Carpenter, J., Patsios, D., Wood, M., Shardlow, S., Haines, C., & Blewett, J. (2010). Department for Education report on newly qualified social worker programme: Final evaluation report (2008-2011). Research report DFE-RR229. United Kingdom: Department for Education. Retrieved from http://cdn.basw.co.uk/upload/basw_50827-2.pdf

Cheron-Sauer, M. C. (2013, April). Social work education and workforce planning and development in England, Europe, United States and Canada. (Technical Report No. April 2013; Churchill Memorial Trust, Australia.). Retrieved from https://www. researchgate.net/publication/281830043 doi:10.13140/RG.2.1.2809.1368

Collins, S. (2008). Statutory social workers: Stress, job satisfaction, coping, social support and individual differences. British Journal of Social Work, 38(6), 1173–1193. doi:10.1093/bjsw/bcm047

Croisdale-Appleby, D. (2014). Re-visioning social work education: An independent review. Retrieved from https://www.gov.uk/ government/publications/social-work-education-review

Daley, B, J. (2001). Learning and professional practice. A study of four professions. Adult Education Quarterly, 52(1), 39–54.

Davys, A., & Beddoe, L. (2010). Best practice in professional supervision: A guide for the helping professions. London, UK: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Donnellan, H., & Jack, G. (2015). The survival guide for newly qualified social workers: Hitting the ground running (2nd ed.). London, UK: Jessica Kingsley.

Grant, S., Sheridan, L., & Webb, S. A. (2016). Newly qualified social workers’ readiness for practice in Scotland. British Journal of Social Work. doi:10.1093/bjsw/bcv146

Gray, M., & Allegritti, I. (2003). Towards culturally sensitive social work practice: Re-examining cross-cultural social work. Social Work/Maatskaplike Werk, 39(4), 312–325.

Green, L. C. (2006). Pariah profession, debased discipline? An analysis of social work’s low academic status and the possibilities for change. Social Work Education, 25(3), 245–264. doi:10.1080/02615470600565152

Guerin, S., Devitt, C., & Redmond, B. (2010). Experiences of early-career social workers in Ireland. The British Journal of Social Work, 40(8), 2467–2484. doi:10.1093/bjsw/bcq020

Harrison, G., & Healy, K. (2016). Forging an identity as a newly qualified worker in the non-government community services sector. Australian Social Work, 69(1), 80-91. doi:10.1080/0312407X.2015.1026913

Healy, K. (2009). A case of mistaken identity: The social welfare professions and new public management. Journal of Sociology, 45(4), 401–418. doi:10.1177/1440783309346476

Hunt, S. (2016). The social work professionalisation project before the 1990s in Aotearoa New Zealand: The dream. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work, 28(3), 15–25. Available at: https://anzswjournal.nz/anzsw/article/view/245 Doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.11157/anzswj-vol28iss3id245

Hunt, S. (2017). The social work regulation project in Aotearoa New Zealand. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work 29(1), 53–64. ISSN: 2463–4131. Available at: https://anzswjournal.nz/anzsw/article/view/370. Doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.11157/anzswj- vol29iss1id370

Hunt, S., Lowe, S., Smith, K., Kuruvila, A., & Webber-Dreadon, E. (2016). Transition to professional social work practice: The initial year. Advances in Social Work and Welfare Education, 18(1), 55–71. http://search.informit.com.au.ezproxy.waikato.ac.nz/do cumentSummary;dn=061710845032755

Hyslop, I. (2017, May 20). Practice futures (we shall overcome). [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://www.reimaginingsocialwork. nz/2017/05/practice-futures-we-shall-overcome/#more-1307

Jack, G., & Donnellan, H. (2010). Recognising the person within the developing professional: Tracking the early careers of newly qualified child care social workers in three local authorities in England. Social Work Education, 29(3), 305–318. doi:10.1080/02615470902984663

Kreuter, F., Presser, S., & Tourangeau, R. (2008). Social desirability bias in CATI, IVR, and web surveys: The effects of mode and question sensitivity. Public Opinion Quarterly, 72(5), 847–865.

Manthorpe, J., Moriarty, J., Stevens, M., Hussein, S., & Sharpe, E. (2014). The “making” of social workers: Findings from interviews with managers of newly qualified social workers. Practice, 26(2), 97–111. doi:10.1080/09503153.2013.867941

Moorhead, B., Bell, K., & Bowles, W. (2016). Exploring the development of professional identity with newly qualified social workers. Australian Social Work, 69(4), 456–467. doi:10.1080/0312407X.2016.1152588

Moriarty, J., & Manthorpe, J. (2013). Shared expectations? Reforming the social work qualifying curriculum in England. Social Work Education, 32(7), 841–853. doi:10.1080/02615479.2012.723683

Moriarty, J., Manthorpe, J., Stevens, M., & Hussein, S. (2011). Making the transition: Comparing research on newly qualified social workers with other professions. British Journal of Social Work, 41(7), 1340–1356. doi:10.1093/bjsw/bcr031

Mullaly, B. (2001). Confronting the politics of despair: Toward the reconstruction of progressive social work in a global economy and postmodern age. Social Work Education, 20(3), 303–320. doi:10.1080/02615470120057406

Newberry- Koroluk, A. M. (2014). Hitting the ground running: Neo-conservatism and first-year Canadian social workers.

Critical Social Work, 15(1), 42–55.

Nixon, S., & Murr, A. (2006). Practice learning and the development of professional practice. Social Work Education, 25(8), 798–811. doi:10.1080/02615470600915852

O’Brien, M. (2016). The triplets: Investment in outcomes for the vulnerable–reshaping social services for (some) New Zealand children. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work, 28(2), 9–21. doi:10.11157/anzswj-vol28iss2id220

O’Donoghue, K. (2010). Towards the construction of social work supervision in Aotearoa New Zealand: A study of the perspectives of social work practitioners and supervisors (Unpublished doctoral dissertation), Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10179/1535

Osteen, P. J. (2011). Motivations, values, and conflict resolution: Students’ integration of personal and professional identities.

Journal of Social Work Education, 47(3), 423–444. doi:10.5175/JSWE.2011.200900131

Preston-Shoot, M., & McKimm, J. (2012). Perceptions of readiness for legally literate practice: A longitudinal study of social work student views. Social Work Education, 31(8), 1071–1089. doi:10.1080/02615479.2011.608125

Smith, R. A., & Pilling, S. (2007). Allied health graduate program: Supporting the transition from student to professional in an interdisciplinary program. Journal of Interprofessional Care, 21(3), 265–276. doi:10.1080/13561820701259116

Social Workers Registration Board. (2014). Code of conduct. V3. Wellington, New Zealand: Author. Retrieved from http://www. swrb.govt.nz/new-and-publications/publications

Tham, P., & Lynch, D. (2014). Prepared for practice? Graduating social work students’ reflections on their education, competence and skills. Social Work Education, 33(6), 704–717. doi:10.1080/02615479.2014.881468

Van de Mortel, T. F. (2008). Faking it: Social desirability response bias in self-report research. Australian Journal of Advanced Nursing, 25(4), 40–48.

Downloads

Published

2017-12-01