UBC Reports | Vol. 47 | No. 05 | Mar.
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
of Social Work (MSW) at home.
A three-year, part-time program is being offered through distance
"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
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
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
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
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.