Innovative UAB Master of Social Work program to launch in fall 2017

The unique new program, in collaboration with the UAB schools of Medicine and the Public Health, will prepare future social workers for in-demand jobs by focusing on health and behavioral health using an innovative model of evidence-based education.  

Written by: Tiffany Westry

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measuring blood pressure 2016The UAB Master of Social Work program will focus on specialized practice in health and behavioral health.To prepare graduates for careers in social work, a field in which health and behavioral health constitute approximately half of all jobs, the University of Alabama at Birmingham Department of Social Work will launch a unique new Master of Social Work program.

The UAB Master of Social Work program will focus on specialized practice in health and behavioral health through interdisciplinary collaboration with the UAB School of Medicine and the UAB School of Public Health. Students will receive advanced training using an innovative model of evidence-based education. 

“Our new MSW is unique to the state in its specialized focus on health and mental health,” said Davis Pollio, professor and chair of the UAB Department of Social Work. “This new program takes advantage of our having nationally respected schools of Public Health and Medicine on campus, which have provided valuable support in our efforts. I believe we will provide a special educational experience to our graduate students, one that will be hard to duplicate anywhere.”

Students enrolling in the program will be extensively prepared for clinical practice and community practice, including specific focus on interventions demonstrated to be effective for specific populations. Combining extensive internships in health and mental health settings with coordinated classroom learning, students will be uniquely trained in clinical and community practice. Courses will be offered both in traditional classrooms and online.

Social workers are employed in a variety of settings, including, schools, child welfare and human service agencies, hospitals, settlement houses, community development corporations, mental health clinics, and private practices. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the overall aging of the population, combined with an increased need for mental health professionals, has led to the growing demand for clinical social workers throughout the United States.

According to the National Association of Social Workers, 60 percent of mental health professionals are clinically trained social workers, providing more mental health services than psychiatrists, nurses and psychologists combined.

The UAB MSW consists of 61 credit hours, and courses are sequenced so that students will graduate in four semesters. Applications will be accepted starting in September 2016. The UAB Department of Social Work is housed within the UAB College of Arts and Sciences.

The program was approved by the Alabama Council on Higher Education and the University of Alabama System Board of Trustees in June, and will commence in fall 2017.

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