Some students come to the program straight from their undergraduate work, while others have been out of school for many years. Below are comments from graduating students made during Clinical Research Paper Presentation Day about why they chose the St. Kate's - St. Thomas MSW clinical social work program and some of the highlights of their experiences:
I chose to come to the program based on word-of-mouth that this was a great program, but the word-of-mouth didn't do it justice! This has been an incredible experience and I wouldn't want to go anywhere else to get my MSW. Not only does this program tap into your strengths, who you are as a person, and how you can contribute back to society, but it's a wonderful experience all-around. The development of the "whole person" was a key aspect of the program and I think I'm a happier person as a result of this education. My biggest surprise was just how versatile social work is.
MSW '14, Area of Emphasis in Aging (AEA) Scholar
Small class size was very important to me. The interaction with the professors was profound. They were able to get to know you and really help you zero in on your strengths and the things you could improve on, especially when it comes to the clinical aspect of your practice.
My clinical placement was fantastic. I was fortunate enough to be part of a scholarship program called DSWAP, the Diversity Social Work Advancement Program. There is an organization called Family Partnership that has an agreement with the School of Social Work to train MSW students from immigrant, refugee and minority communities in clinical social work. I worked with clients with mental health issues. It was very clinical and it really prepared me to be a future clinical social worker.
I always wanted to do therapy, but I jumped back and forth between a few programs before coming back to the MSW. I liked the versatility of clinical social work and the fact that I wasn't going to be pigeon-holed into a specific career. I've also always been a big advocate for social justice, and social work is much more strengths-focused and systems-focused than other therapy-related fields.
I'm a big proponent of smaller class sizes and being able to get to know your professors and the other students. I was surprised that the professors were able to give individual attention even though they have a lot of students and were doing their own research. They really did take the time to get to know all their students and were always available for any kind of consultation that we needed.
MSW '14, Area of Emphasis in Aging (AEA) Scholar
I had some doubts coming into the social work program, but as soon as I entered, those doubts just vanished. It’s a great place with a very supportive atmosphere. The program staff members always had an open door and were willing to answer any questions that I had. I really felt like I was part of the community here. The MSW program helped me develop my confidence and helped me self-reflect to be a better clinician. It's an interesting field to be in because you can do pretty much anything you want within the umbrella of social work.
The amount of time spent on the clinical aspect of social work is what stood out about this program. I am a supervisor in child protection and it has surprised me how much, through each class I’ve gone through, that I can pull back into what I'm currently doing and implement what I've learned. Whether you want to be involved in therapy with people and really dig in clinically, or work with child protection, or if you're in a hospital setting - to have a firm base of clinical knowledge will serve you well no matter which aspect of the profession you jump into. That clinical knowledge is vital to success not only for yourself as an individual, but success for the people you're working with. That's one of our core philosophies as social workers: to really get out there and help people move forward and progress with their strengths. Having the clinical knowledge puts you in a better position to do so.
What I find to be "over-the-top" great in this program is the fact that we look at ourselves and what we bring to practice: the strengths, our areas of growth, and ourselves as a tool - as a social worker. That's been wonderful. Clinical social work practice offers a greater use of self to assist and enhance the journey of your client. The program focuses on great material you can use immediately in practice. Also, by the time you graduate, you have most of the clinical curriculum hours now required for clinical licensure in Minnesota.
Before the MSW, I was in a psychology program. I knew I was interested in mental health, but realized what was missing was the social justice piece. This is something I'm passionate about and is very specific to social work. It has allowed me to encompass everything I care about into one profession. One thing that really helped me was developing a personality and identity as a social worker. All of my supervisors and professors helped me incorporate my background and personality into what I do. Now I can't imagine being anything but a social worker!
My field placement really got me ready for doing clinical social work. I was doing therapy and every session was videotaped. I enjoyed seeing myself go through the process because I could see the parts of my personality that might be impacting clients, [such as] having a genuine personality. Seeing it in 3rd person view really gave me the insight to develop my professional identity and personality. For those exploring the profession I’d say, "if you're in it to help others and do good for our world, I think clinical social work is the way to go."