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Social work students attend interprofessional training event

Posted Feb. 20, 2017
Reported by: Claire Jordan (ABJ '18),

Social work students at interprofessional training event









What happens when social work students gather in the same room with nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy and psychology students? University of Georgia School of Social Work graduate students recently found out during an uncommon collaborative training experience.

Although social work intersects with many health professions, social work students rarely get a chance to learn about it in an intercollegiate setting. Team-based practice that involves collaboration across different fields – aka interprofessional practice – can lead to improved health outcomes for patients or clients while reducing health care costs.  When Brenau University contacted School of Social Work faculty members Trina Salm Ward and Tiffany Washington about an event that would enable MSW students to practice interprofessional collaboration skills, they jumped at the opportunity.

Early in the spring 2017 semester, ten graduate students from the School joined Brenau students at a training site in Gainesville, Georgia. They were divided into teams that included members from each of the five degree programs. Each group received a case study and one hour to discuss how they could collaborate to arrive at a solution. A faculty facilitator assisted each group.

“After developing procedures to work together, the students discussed what the process was like for them, and then the entire gathering talked about the experience,” said Salm Ward, who coordinates the dual master’s degree programs in social work and public health.

The students not only learned how other health professions overlap with social work, but how the latter fills in the gaps in care. They discovered stereotypes that people in other occupations hold toward social workers, and they improved their abilities to communicate what social work brings to the table.

In an address to all the attendees, Dashawna Fussell-Ware (MSW ‘18) broadly summarized social work’s intersection with different health services and the benefits of interprofessional action.

“The most important thing I am learning, as a second semester MSW student, is how important collaboration is to achieve desired results, both in our classroom environment and in the constant fight for social justice that we are always engaged in outside of the School of Social Work’s walls,” she said.

Tiffany Washington and Trina Salm Ward

Tiffany Washington and Trina
Salm Ward

Salm Ward and Washington both believe that student understanding of other professions’ perspectives is a necessary part of social work education

“The future of social work is moving away from silos toward a collaborative, interdisciplinary model of assessment and intervention,” said Washington. “If we expose more students to interprofessional educational opportunities, I believe they will be better prepared to tackle the world’s urgent social and public health problems.”

For more information about interprofessional training at the School of Social Work, contact Trina Salm Ward at (706) 542-2585 or or Tiffany Washington at (706) 542-5471 or