Social work student reflections on training in integrated care: opportunities for social work educators
Integrated care, an approach designed to improve health/ behavioral health outcomes and increase quality of life, has received international interest. Given the important roles social workers play in this approach, American universities have begun novel training programs to better prepare social workers to work in integrated care. The aim of this study is to better understand the experiences of recent MSW trainees, and how they can inform future educational/ training programs. Focus groups of MSW students who recently completed integrated care training programs were conducted (N = 9). Content analysis of the focus group data resulted in three main themes: Gaps in Knowledge about Integrated Care, Developing Professional Identity on a Team, and Adaptation of Core Social Work Skills. Student feedback aligns with current literature, highlighting variability among placements, need for additional training resources, and value of social workers on interprofessional teams. There were also unique findings, include challenges and rewards of professional identity development on teams and examples of adaptations of traditional social work roles in integrated care. In order to prepare social workers for practice, educational programs must develop effective curricula that span classroom and field education and make better use of expertise of practitioners in the field.