Get ready...get set...go! A new entrant programme for social workers in mental health
Keywords:New entrant programme, social work, mental health, education
INTRODUCTION: Previous research has found that many social work new graduates do
not feel that they come to their work in mental health with sufficient knowledge. One way of remedying this is using post-qualifying New Entrant to Specialist Programmes (NESP), where social workers gain additional knowledge and skills in a particular field of practice.
METHODS: A small-scale research project was conducted with five social workers who
had recently completed a NESP qualification within a district health board (DHB) setting in Aotearoa New Zealand. Semi-structured interviews were used to obtain deep information from participants in line with a subjectivist perspective.
FINDINGS: Participants indicated that they had found the NESP qualification useful in improving their confidence and competence in their early practice years. They found the programme
was useful in decreasing a sense of isolation by bringing them together with other social workers, or members of other disciplines, and they appreciated the skills and support they had received from their group supervision experience. The greatest challenges revolved around time constraints and they wished for more social-work-specific and cultural content within their programmes.
CONCLUSIONS: The programmes appear to serve an important function in improving competence and confidence for social workers new to the field of mental health. Social work’s commitments to social justice and Te Tiriti o Waitangi need to continue to be pulled through into post-qualifying programmes and a sense of professional identity needs to be nurtured within medically oriented settings.
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