How Is Social Work Changing? What Are The Trends You See That Will Shape The Field in The Coming Years?

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Jennifer Pierce, MSW Assistant Field Education Coordinator, and Dorothy Farrel, D.M., M.S.W., Clinical Associate Profession Coordinator, at the School of Social Work, University of Nevada, Reno, goes over how social work is changing and the trends that will shape the field in the coming years.


The most striking trend I have noticed is the convergence of social work and business. I worked for a nonprofit that in a 10 year span saw its annual budget increase from $500, 000 to over four million dollars. My experience in health care also opened my eyes to the financial and business intricacies to deliver high quality, cost efficient, patient centered services.But there’s a learning curve when it comes to managing people, programs and resources that are at times counter intuitive to our social work skills. We need to be prepared as social work leaders to ensure that our program remain solvent and are flexibly able to meet the demands of our community.

The field of social work is a very adaptable profession and it changes as our societal and cultural needs adjust and change. A really good example of that is our shift towards trauma informed care. Whether it be working with veterans, abused women and children or through the immigration and current refugees. There’s a tremendous amount of trauma that is occurring within our culture that social workers need to become responsive to. At UNR we’re very careful to make sure that we are up to date on current and best practices so that we can be informed when working with our students to make sure that we are meeting up with the needs of the society.