‘Think Social Work’: Loras expands diverse major

March is Social Work Month, and the theme for this year is “Think Social Work.” The Social Work Month is intended to highlight the field of social work and to honor social workers across the country for all of the good work that they do. It is also meant to educate the general public about all of the often unnoticed and unappreciated things that social workers do to contribute to the good of society.

Loras is an accredited Social Work program which means that those who graduate from the program only need one year of graduate school in order to get their master’s degrees. A bachelor’s degree in social work is considered a generalist degree, meaning that a practitioner does not specialize in a field such as mental health or school social work. At the master’s level one can specialize in specific concentrations. A social worker can practice in a variety of disciplines, such as working in schools, hospitals, the criminal justice system or at the macro level. Clinical social workers can even diagnose mental illnesses. There are currently 53 Social Work majors at Loras, with these numbers being expected to rise in the future.

Seniors in the major are required to complete field placements. The Field Instruction course is an important component to social worker education because it allows for the Social Work students to gain experience in the real world before they graduate, practicing the skills that they have learned the past three or four years. The senior Social Work majors at Loras are practicing their placements in a variety of areas, contributing a lot of hard work to better the Dubuque area. Amanda Rodriguez is a senior Social Work major who is currently doing her field placement at the Dubuque Human Services Department.

Sarah Gascoigne is a senior Social Work major who is currently doing her field placement at a local nursing home.

“I am placed at Sunnycrest Manor, a long-term care facility (nursing home) in Dubuque. I work with older adults, some as young as 35 to as old as late 90s. Sunnycrest has a very diverse population in that they serve individuals with intellectual disabilities and individuals with psych diagnoses,” Gascoigne said.

“Every day brings something different. I have my own residents whom I meet with daily to see how they are liking the facility and if there is anything that they would need. I complete weekly assessments which then leads to a meeting with the resident, their guardian, the nursing staff and the dietary staff. We get talk about the cares the individual is getting and if there are any concerns. My experience thus far has been extremely rewarding, and I have used my social work education greatly.”

The Loras Social Work Program is also launching a social media campaign called “Think Social Work,” which is intended to encourage students to consider social work as a possible field of study. The campaign highlights the many roads that a social worker can go down, which many people do not realize is so diverse. There is a Facebook page found by searching “Loras College Social Work” and a Twitter account, @LorasCollegeSW.

As for events occurring around campus this month, there is yoga in Hennessy from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. on both March 8 and March 16 that is sponsored by the Loras Social Work Council. On March 9 from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m., the council will also be sponsoring a community training on Human Trafficking in the ACC. Interested students should RSVP to Nancy Zachar Fett at nancy.fett@loras.edu. The training session is free to students, but if they wish to attend the lunch portion from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m., there is a fee of $15. On March 31 from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. in Hennessy 250, there is Situational Awareness training for students as well.

“The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment for social workers will grow 12 percent from 2014-2024, which is faster than average for all occupations,” Assistant Professor of Social Work Brad Cavanagh said. “This new demand is driven by growing healthcare and social service needs.  Now is a great time to become a social worker.”

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