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UBC Reports | Vol. 47 | No. 05 | Mar. 8, 2001

Social workers build skills close to home

Program aims to increase number with advanced clinical, management skills

Social workers in B.C.'s Interior are now working on their Master of Social Work (MSW) at home.

A three-year, part-time program is being offered through distance education.

"We're interested in increasing the number of MSW graduates in the province because they go into advanced clinical practice and into policy and management positions. In this way they meet the continuing demand for social workers in the province and provide the professional leadership that is required," says Prof. Graham Riches, director of the School of Social Work and Family Studies.

Part of the program's objective is to try to serve the Okanagan and Cariboo regions, Riches says.

The northern part of the province is served through a graduate program in social work at the University of Northern British Columbia.

Impetus for the program came from the heads of University College of the Cariboo (UCC) and Okanagan University College (OUC), says Prof. Roopchand Seebaran, co-ordinator of the distance education program.

"They told us that there's a real demand for the graduate program in the areas they service," he says. "Two public meetings were held and almost 100 people attended each one. We were told that was a fraction of the interested people."

The program relies on a combination of face-to-face and on-line courses. It makes use of faculty resources and facilities from OUC, UCC and UBC. The on-line courses are provided with the assistance of the UBC's Distance Education and Technology Centre.

Twenty-four students who are unable to leave the area to attend university full-time are now half-way through the program.

Student Carrie McNeely says the program is perfect for her because she has a large family and works full-time at Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops.

The program requires a serious commitment of time. McNeely spends two evenings a week and one day on the weekend studying and doing assignments.

"My family supports me completely and picks up the slack around the house," she says.

As part of the program, McNeely and the other students must attend three three-day weekend workshops for each course.

"It's quite a marathon. You're really exhausted when the weekend is over," she says.

Students are spread out over a huge area, including Salmon Arm, Trail, Williams Lake and Nelson.

The Master of Social Work program, which is self-funded, will be evaluated this summer to measure its success in meeting its objectives.


Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

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