When it comes to career progression in social work, personal development is key.
However, I find social workers fall under 3 phases when deciding on a social work course to pursue.
The first is social workers who do not know where to begin or how to get started.
The second is, social workers you’ve already started studying for a course, but feel stuck, and may feel they’re missing something.
And the third is social workers who have started a course but keep wondering…. what is next?
Whatever, phase you fall into, I can confidently say a lack of information isn’t the problem.
The chances are you are overwhelmed by the volumes of information out there!
Top 3 Social Work Courses I Took That are Actually Relevant In Practice
Here, I will detail the 3 social work courses I took that are actually relevant in practice.
1. Best Interests Assessor
The Best Interests Assessor role involves knowledge on key legislation, critical thinking skills, and critical reasoning.
Following this social work course, I learned that research and knowledge can help a BIA better respond to the current risks.
Example, knowledge of assistive technology can help make care less restrictive (using an alarm at door to alert staff when P is awake rather than using a disproportionate response such as sedation/bedrails).
BIA’s skills include observation, reflection, analysis, assessment and record keeping and knowledge of the law will be used to promote positive change in people’s lives and fight for a less restricted life.
BIA’s use form 3 (ADASS, 2015a) and the guidance document (ADASS, 2015b) to evidence decisions made and how they were made.
Here, I detail how a best interests assessor completes a typical assessment in practice.
2. Approved Mental Health Professional (AMHP)
A social worker who wishes to pursue the Approved Mental Health Professional career route must be a registered social worker with at least two years post – qualifying experience.
Historically, in social work practice, it was identified that there was the potential for oppression and discrimination in mental health services and as a result, the role of the Approved Mental Health Professional (AMHP) was to help safeguard against the power of medical professionals bringing an alternative social perspective (Rapaport & Manthorpe, 2008; Barcham, 2016).
The Mental Health Act 1983 (MHA) was revised by Mental Health Act (MHA) 2007, where the role and powers of the Approved Social Worker (ASW) were replaced by the AMHP.
This meant that besides social workers, other professionals such as nurses and psychologists could be trained to act as AMHPs.
However, given the value base of these professionals, critics highlighted that these ‘other’ professionals would inevitably yield to the medical model instead of the social model of care (Rogers & Pilgrim, 2014).
However, the Department of Health (2012) highlighted that out of 936 individuals undertaking the AMHP training, 84% were social workers and 14% were nurses.
- Practice Education – Students’ Perspective
- How to Become a Practice Educator
- Best Interests Assessor Essay Sample
- Preparing for Approved Mental Health Professional Practice
According to Cummins (2019), the majority of AMHP workforce will be made for social workers for the foreseeable future.
When considering if it is needed to detain an individual, the overarching role of an AMHP is to exercise their own judgement based on social and medical evidence and to always consider the alternative ways of providing care or treatment for that individual in order to facilitate recovery from a mental disorder (Barcham, 2016).
Following this social work course, I learned that the AMHP’s role is to determine if it is necessary to detain a person and to also consider alternative ways of treatment or care, ensuring that the individual is involved, and identifying and involving their nearest relative.
Other roles and responsibilities of the AMHP are detailed in the Mental Health Code of Practice.
Mental Health Act Code of Practice 14.52
Mental Health Act Code of Practice 4.48 – 4.55
3. Practice Educator
The Practice Educator’s (PE) role is to teach, supervise, and assess students on their placements during their social work training.
They improve standards in social work education, maintaining the quality of practice placements for social work students.
In addition, they help to identify, develop and assess the skills and knowledge of students to meet the requirements of the Professional Capabilities Framework.
Following this social work course, I learned that the Practice Educator is expected to demonstrate the learning guidance statements of the Practice Educator Professional Standards (PEPS)
A Practice Educator must be able to co-ordinate and critically evaluate the learning environment for a learner within practice learning settings, demonstrate a capacity to provide an effective practice learning environment, and to support students that experience difficulties in placement.
In addition, a Practice Educator should be able to select and effectively use a range of teaching strategies and resources in
managing the learning of others to achieve the professional standards required.
Be able to provide feedback to student’s written work, show an understanding of current research, reflect on their role and to make links between theory and practice.
Candidates wishing to pursue the Practice Educator social work career route must be a registered social worker with at least two years post-qualifying experience.
In most Universities, the module can be taken as an independent module or as part of a MSc programme and carries 30 academic credits at level 7 (Master’s level).
Don’t forget to check out my Practice Educator training journey! GET IT HERE.
I also detail student’s perspective of practice education – GET IT HERE.
Any of these 3 courses will certainly give you the opportunity to enhance your knowledge and skills.
You will also be able to contribute meaningfully to the learning of others.