The Journal Gazette
Monday, July 08, 2019 1:00 am

Five questions for Janet Nes

MSW Program Coordinator IU School of Social Work

1 Social work is one of the five academic programs offered by Indiana University on its Fort Wayne campus. What's the history of the program on the Coliseum campus?

Indiana University School of Social Work began offering the part time MSW Program on the Purdue Fort Wayne (formerly IPFW) campus in 2005. The MSW program is a three year part time, evening program and historically operated on a three year admission cycle. The first cohort graduated in 2008. Since its inception, the MSW Program has graduated 131 MSWs. Beginning in 2019, the program now enrolls every two years, so for the 2019-2020 academic year, we have two active MSW cohorts; one in its first year and the other cohort in its third and final year. With the addition of a BSW Program in Fort Wayne in Fall 2019, we plan to shift to an annual enrollment cycle for the MSW Program in the near future to accommodate BSW graduates who want to pursue their MSW right after completion of their BSW degree.

2 A new bachelor's degree program also will be available beginning this fall. What prompted the addition?

Indiana University Fort Wayne (IUFW) offers undergraduate health sciences programs for our region. It was a logical next step, after the success of the MSW Program, to add the BSW program at the IUFW campus. The addition of the Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree program commencing fall 2019 addresses community needs for licensed professional social workers and provides another undergraduate degree option for the area. Both IU programs are fully accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. There are three professional licensure levels for social workers in the state of Indiana: Licensed Bachelor Social Worker (BSW level), Licensed Social Worker (post-Baccalaureate level and Masters level) and the Licensed Clinical Social Worker (post-Masters level).

3 Is there an advantage to completing both programs in Fort Wayne?

It can be very convenient for an undergraduate student to be able to complete their graduate work within the same university system; students develop familiarity with BSW and MSW Program staff and faculty as well as with program supports and the school's partnerships with field placement agencies in Fort Wayne and our surrounding communities. For undergraduate students who plan to continue to live and work in our region, being able to attend IUFW for their master's degree in social work allows for a seamless transition between undergraduate and graduate education. BSW students graduating from our program will be eligible to apply for Advanced Standing in the MSW Program, which, if accepted, reduces the 60 credit hour requirement for the MSW to 41 credit hours. BSW graduates are likely to become employed full time upon graduation and may maintain employment while completing their MSW degree in our part-time evening program.

4 Is there coordination between the IUFW social work program and the other health-related programs offered on campus? How does that work?

What is unique about IUFW is its focus on the health sciences. As such, students in our professional schools participate in rich inter-professional education (referred to as IPE) learning experiences. In these collaborative learning experiences, social work students, medical school students, medical imaging, dental program and health sciences students learn how to effectively communicate together to further the health and well-being of patients. Utilizing “case based learning” our collective student groups, for example, will staff complex medical case scenarios, addressing patient needs, including social, environmental and other needs, to reduce barriers to well-being and improve patient health outcomes.

IPE experiences provide students in all of our program areas with general knowledge about their distinct roles (as social workers, doctors, nurses, medical imaging professionals, dental health professionals, etc.), responsibilities and capabilities. They prepare all of our students, regardless of their discipline, to be able to communicate and effectively work together in health care systems such as hospitals and clinics.

5 What are the job prospects for social work graduates today? Do they have a role in addressing the nation's opioid epidemic?

Social workers at the BSW and MSW levels are needed in all sectors serving individuals, families, groups and communities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics social work jobs between 2016-2026 are expected to increase much faster than average (16%). Health Care Social Workers' projected job growth for this same period (2016-2026) is expected to increase by twenty percent and Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers' job growth is projected to increase by nineteen percent. In our region of northeast Indiana, agencies are always looking for BSW and MSW prepared social workers to fill case management and clinical positions.

The opioid epidemic has profound impact on individual well-being and family well-being. Addictions in general are daunting to overcome and families and persons impacted by addiction need support on multiple levels. In addition to addictions, individuals, families and communities are impacted by a number of challenges due to poverty, mental health and other social issues. Social workers are prepared to help with these life challenges.

Students in our BSW and MSW programs complete competency based field practicum placements. Students in our BSW Program will complete 560 supervised field practicum hours in the final year of the program. MSW students who are admitted as Advanced Standing students (they hold a BSW degree) complete one clinical supervised field placement totaling 640 hours. MSW students who do not have a BSW degree (non-Advanced Standing) complete a generalist practicum (320 hours) and a clinical practicum (640 hours). Practicum placements provide students with opportunities to apply all of their theoretical and classroom learning within agency settings under the supervision of appropriately credentialed social workers. Many social work students receive job offers from their practicum agencies before they even graduate, and agencies are able to hire our students will full knowledge of their competencies.

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