Reflections on the newly qualified social worker's journey : From university training to qualified practice
This qualitative research study explores the experience of graduating social workers making the transition from university training into work as qualified social work practitioners. Most studies in this area look at the practice readiness of the newly qualified professional. This study looks at the participants’ experience in the work place. How do participants experience this journey of transition? What skills, particularly reflective practice and supervision, learned in training, are important to them?\ud Eight graduates were interviewed three times as they began to practice, after six months and at the end of year one. Four people worked in children’s services, four in adult services. The methodology adopted for this research was Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA).\ud These findings suggest there is a process of transition that has three strands, phased development, a professional strand and a psychological /emotional strand. These strands are unique and taken together give a holistic view of an individual’s journey of transition. Across the eight participants there were commonalities and divergences between transition experiences. However a model of transition did emerge which may be applicable to other professional spheres.\ud Reflective practice and supervision appear to be key elements of a newly qualified social workers practice. All participants received supervision; for the majority supervision was focused on case discussions and the social workers decision making: Little place was given to reflection on practice this was seen as an activity that worker’s carried out on their own in their car following a home visit, or on the way home at the end of the working day. There was no clear model of reflective practice used.\ud A further finding concerns the methodology IPA, particularly this researcher’s experience of bracketing and research journaling as part of the research process.
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