Professional in Practice – Advanced Scholarship Award

Professional in Practice – Advanced Scholarship Award


In about 2007 Queens set up an award for
professionals to come back into the University and study at doctoral level
and we recruited a number of social workers and we were concerned that
social workers were coming into Queens undertaking professional study but there
was no professional accreditation attached to their award.
I made some initial inquiries with the Northern Ireland Social Care Council and
we quickly realized that we didn’t have the framework that we needed to
professionally accredit doctoral study. The aim of any doctorate in Social Work
is to produce research to inform practice. Having this award approved by
the professional body will ensure that doctorate level study will apply
research to practice it very much gives a concrete expression to that aim. I
found out about the advanced scholarship award when I was invited to a
consultation event in the Social Care Council and I was surprised and delighted
because I already have completed the MSC in advanced social work and
there is no professional qualification beyond that, so it’s great that the
advanced scholarship award offers an award at that level. I think it’s very
important for a number of reasons if you compare social work with the medical
profession, medical profession has ongoing continuous professional
development that is accredited and medics are able to improve their
profiles and their CVs through the additional qualifications they do and
social work had professional accreditation up to master’s level and
so this is a natural gap if you want to improve the workforce, improve our
critical thinking, our critical appraisal, report writing that we have professional
accreditation at a doctoral level. One of the challenges was developing the
learning outcomes for the award and the development group included social
workers who were in leadership roles, in the service, in training, in research as
well as service user input. So to work together in that group to define some
agreed learning outcomes was a challenge but
very worthwhile and that is where the employers and the profession as a whole
has contributed to doctoral level education and training in social work.
Certainly if anybody wants to go into a university post, where it involves
research, they’re going to need this sort of training but for other posts as well
where they are leaders in the profession that’s principal practitioners where
they’re charged with developing our skills in complex cases or new
approaches and it will give them an understanding of how you create evidence
and how you use evidence to inform practice. The benefit for service users
and carers is that ultimately this will improve outcomes for them. I think that
social workers other its best when practice is informed by research, when it
is emotionally intelligent and when it is academically driven and the advanced
scholarship award pushes all of those things.

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