WWU Social Work Program helps pave the way for change

Dr. Elizabeth Wilson (front row, far left) and social work students during a previous Social Work Advocacy Day in Jefferson City.
Dr. Elizabeth Wilson (front row, far left) and social work students during a previous Social Work Advocacy Day in Jefferson City.

William Woods University will join the nation in commemorating National Social Work Month in March and the 60th anniversary of the National Association of Social Workers throughout 2015.

According to Dr. Elizabeth Wilson, associate professor and chair of the social work program, the goal is to educate the public about how social workers and the association have brought about major positive social changes, improved the lives of individuals and families, and continues to pave the way for change in the future.

This is the 27th year for the WWU social work program, which currently enrolls 32 majors, the largest in the program’s history. A recent alumni survey found that of the 60 percent of the respondents who applied to graduate school, 100 percent were accepted. Of the 40 percent who chose to begin working immediately after graduation, 100 percent were employed.

Learning about CARDV (Coalition Against Rape and Domestic Violence) in 2007.
Learning about CARDV (Coalition Against Rape and Domestic Violence) in 2007.

Other results showed that 100 percent of graduates had participated in a service-learning project through their social work classes and 100 percent would recommend the WWU social work program.

The social work program will award two scholarships and host multiple events during March to commemorate National Social Work Month.

Planned programs include Alive Inside–Exploring music therapy with people affected by Alzheimer’s disease at 6 p.m. March 3 in Burton 006; Peggy Reed-Lohmeyer on Suicide Awareness and Prevention at 6 p.m. March 12 in the Ivy Room; and Demystifying Mental Health—Interference game March 17 (time and location to be announced).

Other programs planned, specifically for social work students, are a presentation from Tom Reichard, Missouri Division of Professional Registration, on social work licensure in Missouri March 3, and LGBT training and discussion March 10 at Fulton State Hospital.

Social Work Seniors in 2011
Social Work Seniors in 2011

The social work program will send six senior social work students and two faculty members to the Association of Baccalaureate Social Work Program Directors National Social Work Conference March 5 and 6 in Kansas City, Missouri.

Wilson and George Garner, associate professor of social work, will attend sessions specific to field education and current issues in social work education.

WWU’s Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) program is fully accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.

“That is a real asset to our program,” Wilson said, “because we meet high standards of education and our students are eligible to apply for advanced standing to many graduate schools, which allows them (if accepted) to earn a master’s degree in social work in one year versus two years.”

To graduate with a social work degree, seniors in their field practicum complete 500 hours of

A social work student visits with a patient at Fulton Nursing and Rehab in 2004.
A social work student visits with a patient at Fulton Nursing and Rehab in 2004.

supervised service to individuals, families and groups in various communities. A total of 5,500 hours of service were provided by WWU’s 11 senior students this year alone.

Field practicum agencies where the students have served this year include Missouri Children’s Division, Missouri Division of Youth Services, Ellis Fischel Cancer Center, Lutheran Family and Children’s Services, SERVE, Presbyterian Manor, Head Start and the Veterans Home in Mexico, Missouri.

The students are learning about child abuse and neglect assessment, how to work with incarcerated youth, foster families and birth parents, veterans, rehabilitation units, mental health patients, how to support families affected by cancer, how to provide assistance and planning for families living in poverty, participating in community multidisciplinary teams and advocating for access to services and populations at risk while in their field practicum.

“The importance of Social Work Month is not only to promote all that social workers do and what they stand for, but it allows for awareness toward understanding, acceptance and caring,” said Rebecca LaBelle, Social Work Club president. “As social workers, it is necessary to help erase stigma, raise awareness to important events taking place around us and promote equality to each and every person.”

For more information on how WWU is paving the way for change during Social Work Month in March, contact Wilson at elizabeth.wilson@williamwoods.edu.