Continuing Education is extremely important for Social Workers as it helps them keep up to date with new practices and trends. In addition to helping Social Workers acquire new skills, Continuing Education can also create opportunities for professional growth and career advancement.
Did you know? Agents of Change Continuing Education offers Unlimited Access to 150+ CE courses for one low annual fee. We’ve helped thousands of Social Workers with Continuing Education, learn more here about Agents of Change.
Step 1: Assess Your Professional Needs
Understand Your Current Position
When building your Social Work continuing education plan, it is important to start with a comprehensive assessment of your current standing.
Evaluate Your Skills
Which skills are your strong points, and which could benefit from some fine-tuning? Are there any areas where you often find yourself feeling unsure or less confident?
This could include hard skills like case management, assessment techniques, or knowledge of specific therapeutic modalities. It could also include soft skills like empathy, active listening, or communication.
Write your answers down to these questions and don’t rush it! Make sure you’ve thought deeply about your current skills and skill gaps.
Consider Your Job Responsibilities
- What tasks are you regularly expected to perform?
- What clients do you typically work with, in what environment, and what are their most common needs?
This can also provide you insights into areas where additional training could be particularly helpful.
Identify Challenges and Gaps
Every Social Work role has its own set of challenges.
- What problems do you see often in your job?
- What areas leave you feeling overwhelmed or underprepared?
These could be situations involving high levels of conflict, working with specific populations, or managing complex cases. Identifying these challenges will help you focus your continuing education on addressing these gaps.
Reflect on Feedback
Consider any feedback you’ve received from supervisors, colleagues, or clients. Is there a recurring theme or specific area where others have pointed out room for improvement? Use this feedback as a guide to pinpoint areas where continuing education could be beneficial.
Now that you better understand where you are, it’s time to figure out where you want to go!
- What are your career goals?
- Do you want to focus or specialize in a particular domain of Social Work?
Perhaps you’d like to take on a leadership role or explore a different field within Social Work. Write down your aspirations and let them guide your continuing education plan.
Agents of Change Continuing Education offers Unlimited Access to 150+ CE courses for one low annual fee. We’ve helped thousands of Social Workers with Continuing Education, learn more here about Agents of Change.
Step 2: Research Your Options
Discover Relevant Courses and Workshops
Consult Professional Organizations
Many professional organizations in the field of social work, such as the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), the Clinical Social Work Association (CSWA), or the Society for Social Work and Research (SSWR), offer continuing education opportunities for their members.
These organizations often have a calendar of upcoming events, workshops, webinars, and courses specifically tailored to social workers. Start by reviewing continuing education opportunities from these highly reputable organizations to see if any match your needs and goals.
Explore Online Learning Platforms
However, it’s important to ensure that the courses you take are reputable, reviewed, and approved by licensing organizations to earn continuing education credit.
Attend Conferences and Seminars
Conferences and seminars can be a great way to learn from field experts, connect with other Social Workers, and keep up-to-date of the most recent research and advancements in Social Work.
These events often offer workshops and breakout sessions that can count toward your continuing education requirements.
Join Online Communities and Social Media Groups
Online communities and social media groups dedicated to Social Work can be valuable resources for discovering relevant courses and workshops. Fellow Social Workers often share recommendations, reviews, and information about upcoming events.
Reach out to colleagues, supervisors, or mentors for recommendations on continuing education opportunities. They will very likely have great insights into courses or workshops that were particularly beneficial for their professional growth.
Evaluate Program Quality
When it comes to continuing education, quality matters. Look for programs accredited by recognized organizations, such as ACE (Approved Continuing Education) from the ASWB. Don’t be afraid to ask for reviews or testimonials from fellow Social Workers who have taken the courses you’re considering.
Agents of Change, #1919, is approved as an ACE provider to offer Social Work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program.
Step 3: Budgeting and Scheduling
Continuing education can be a significant investment. Evaluate the costs of each course or workshop and consider any additional expenses, like travel or accommodations.
Agents of Change offers an unlimited-access Continuing Education program that covers your state’s requirements for a low annual fee.
Create a Realistic Schedule
Balance is key when creating a continuing education schedule. Make sure you can manage your professional responsibilities, personal life, and education without becoming overwhelmed.
Step 4: Execution and Reflection
Integrate Learnings Into Your Practice
What are the key insights you learned and how can you apply them to your job? Consider specific cases or situations where you can apply these new concepts.
This could involve employing new assessment techniques, incorporating innovative therapeutic approaches, or adjusting your communication style based on what you’ve learned.
Share Knowledge With Colleagues
Continuing education doesn’t have to be a solo endeavor. Sharing your new knowledge with colleagues can foster a culture of learning within your organization and benefit the entire team.
You could do this by organizing a lunch-and-learn session, presenting a case study that incorporates new learnings, or leading a discussion in a team meeting.
Seek Supervision or Peer Support
Seeking supervision or support from a trusted colleague is a great way to come up with techniques to use your new knowledge.
Adapt and Refine
As you apply new concepts, techniques, or approaches, continually assess their impact on your work. Are you seeing improvements in client outcomes? Are there particular areas where you’re still struggling?
Keep Up-to-Date With New Developments
Join professional organizations, subscribe to relevant journals or newsletters, and engage in online communities or social media groups dedicated to Social Work.
Conduct a Self-Assessment
Take the time to review the goals you set at the beginning of your continuing education plan.
- Have you achieved the goals you set originally?
- Have you noticed improvements in your skills, confidence, or client outcomes?
Reflect on what worked well, what didn’t, and what changes you can make going forward.
Are your colleagues noticing any improvements or changes in your approach? Take their feedback into account as you evaluate your progress and update your continuing education plan.
Track Your Continuing Education Hours
Make sure you’re keeping track of your completed continuing education hours and any required documentation. This will help you make sure that you’re meeting your licensure requirements and document the necessary details for when it’s time for renewal.
Update Your Continuing Education Plan
Based on your reflections and feedback, update your continuing education plan as needed. Identify new areas for growth, set new goals, and explore different courses, workshops, or other educational opportunities.
Remember that continuing education is an ongoing process, and your plan should evolve with your professional needs and goals.
FAQs – Building Your Continuing Education Plan
Q: What is Social Work continuing education, and why is it important?
A: Continuing education in Social Work refers to an ongoing process of acquiring new skills, knowledge, and experiences even after formal education has been completed.
It is also a requirement for licensure renewal in many states and helps Social Workers adhere to professional and ethical standards.
Q: Is continuing education mandatory for Social Workers, and what are the specific requirements?
A: Yes, continuing education is often mandatory for licensed Social Workers. However, the specific requirements can vary depending on the state in which you are licensed, the level of your licensure, and the guidelines of the professional licensing board. Learn about your state’s requirements here.
In general, most states require licensed Social Workers to complete a certain number of continuing education hours within a specified period (usually every 1-2 years) to maintain their license.
Q: Can I pursue continuing education online, and how do I ensure it is accredited?
A: Yes, many Social Workers choose to pursue continuing education online due to its flexibility and convenience. Agents of Change offers an unlimited-access online Continuing Education program that covers your state’s requirements for a low annual fee.
However, it is essential to ensure that the online courses you choose are accredited by recognized organizations, such as the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) or the National Association of Social Workers (NASW).
Continuing education is a very important part of the life of the ambitious Social Worker. Stay curious, stay informed, and keep striving for excellence in your practice. Happy learning!
Learn more about Agents of Change Continuing Education. We’ve helped thousands of Social Workers with their Continuing Education and want you to be next!
► Learn more about the Agents of Change Continuing Education here: https://agentsofchangetraining.com
About the Instructor, Meagan Mitchell: Meagan is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and has been providing Continuing Education for Social Workers for more than 8 years. From all of this experience helping others pass their exams, she created Agents of Change Continuing Education to help Social Workers stay up-to-date on the latest trends, research, and techniques.
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Disclaimer: This content has been made available for informational and educational purposes only. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical or clinical advice, diagnosis, or treatment