For me, the final year of the MSW program is what it’s all about. By collaborating with my faculty field advisor during the foundation year, I explored and ranked my top concentration year field practicum options. Fortunately, like many other folks, I was assigned my top choice. This year I have been a Social Work Trainee at the UNC Department of Psychiatry Child and Adolescent Outpatient Program.
For fulltime students, the concentration year format consists of attending classes (mostly electives within your concentration) during the first two days of every week at the UNC School of Social Work, while the other three days consist of working and learning in the field. I’ve found this format to be extremely valuable for integrating the theories and skills discussed in the classroom with actual first-hand experience and implementation.
Though we are not quite done with this semester, it is already abundantly clear that between elective courses and field experience, we’re gaining the knowledge and skills critical to providing effective therapeutic interventions. Furthermore, working in an interdisciplinary environment like the Child and Adolescent Outpatient Program (alongside psychiatrists, psychologists, psychoeducational consultants, and other social workers) has provided me with more insight into, and respect for, what different types of mental health professionals have to offer clients, as well as one another.
Whether you are interested in direct practice clinical social work (or in going the more macro route), the concentration year is an opportunity to go all in and really grow as an aspiring professional.