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Social Work careers in policy and research vs. clinical


U-M_Detroiter

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I will be starting my MSW fall 2014, and I am having second thoughts about concentrating in policy. I know that it is not too late to change, but I would like some advice on which is more suitable for my interests. I have recently interviewed several oncology social workers for a class project and the work that they do really interested me. However, my initial interest is in social policy, and conducting research. What types of jobs would be I be able to get within the realm of policy and research? Policy analysis, grant writing, and fundraising are all jobs I am aware of. I am very good at and enjoy statistics, as well as using database programs such as SPSS, R, and minitab, this is why my mentor suggested concentrating in policy. I also have been conducting research for several years as an undergraduate (in psychology) and it is something that I love doing. 

 

After interviewing clinical social workers, however, I really like the direct impact they have on individuals lives. I would love to work in a hospital setting, dealing with cancer patients if I went this rout (I battled cancer during middle school). 

 

Is there a way that I could possibly do policy as well as clinical? I know at Michigan it is possible to minor in a concentration. 

 

Thanks for any input! 

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I recommend that you follow your heart. Are you more interested in research/policy or clinical/case management? If the former, you should apply to MSW programs with macro concentrations. Don't pick clinical practice just because that's the dominant concentration in the field (unless you are interested in both casework and statistics?). If you have a strong background in quantitative methods (calculus, economics, statistics), I also recommend MSW/MPP dual-degree programs. You will be able to pursue social policy electives in both degree programs.

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With an LCSW it is possible to do clinical work even though you aren't necessarily trained in it?

 

After completing an MSW program, you are usual eligible for something like an LMSW (Licensed Master Social Worker) or LSW (Licensed Social Worker) designation. To receive the LCSW (or equivalent licensure) and practice clinical work independently, you need a certain number of supervised hours (which usually takes 2-3 years post-MSW, depending on your state).

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Is there a difference in job prospects between Macro and direct service?  Someone mentioned that Macro is relatively new and most programs are focused on direct service course offerings.  Does it follow that most entry-level jobs are of the direct service variety?

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Is there a difference in job prospects between Macro and direct service?  Someone mentioned that Macro is relatively new and most programs are focused on direct service course offerings.  Does it follow that most entry-level jobs are of the direct service variety?

 

I think you have to be prepared to market yourself a little differently as a macro practitioner, as most people will tend to associate MSWs with clinicians. There are a wide variety of jobs that MSWs can pursue--it depends on your interests and your angle--but be prepared to network more than your direct practice counterparts. It's not that there are less jobs available, it's that the jobs take on greater variety in name, scope, and setting, and require more strategic digging.

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Historically, macro practice in social work is not new. The founders of social work in the settlement house movement.(such as Jane Addams and Edith Abbott) were among the first macro practice professionals. During the Progressive Era (1890s-1920s), they engaged in research, recreational, educational, and philanthropic activities with local residents (immigrants and minorities). In the early twentieth century, they saw themselves more as social reformers and applied sociologists effecting social change at the community and policy level. 

Edited by michigan girl
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Do the various schools have job placement rates?  With the economy where it is, I am most concerned about being employed after I earn my MSW. Does anyone know where/how to get recent/current placement stats on particular programs? 

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