PhD in Social Work 2015
I graduated with a Masters of Social Work at the University of Glasgow in 2004 and worked as a social worker in a variety of settings before going on to study for a PhD at the University of Edinburgh. At this time I was working as a palliative care social worker within a hospice and I was keen to explore what, if anything, I could do differently to enable better bereavement experiences for children: thus an idea for a PhD research study emerged. The University of Edinburgh was my first choice of institution as it enabled me to have a supervisory team from social work and medicine; and this multi-disciplinary approach was crucial to both the research and practice.
I commuted from Glasgow and the walk from Waverley train station to George Square was always a highlight of my day, especially during festival time. I found combining PhD studies with practice hugely rewarding and it supported my development as a social work practitioner. This was aided by the great support and leadership that I received from my supervisory team, Professor Viv Cree and Professor Scott Murray, both of whom continue to provide support in my current role. I particularly enjoyed having access to the range of courses offered by the School of Social and Political Sciences as this allowed me to take courses that I had not had access to during my undergraduate studies.
After leaving the University I took the decision to leave social work practice and become a lecturer at the School of Social Work and Social Policy at the University of Strathclyde. My time at the University of Edinburgh supported this transition as it had allowed me to develop my research and teaching skills, build professional networks and better understand how research can shape practice. I find working with social work students extremely rewarding and am continually inspired by their vision and passion for social justice.
Looking ahead, social work education needs to constantly adapt to the changing needs of the communities it serves: students, service users, practitioners, agencies and policy makers. This is not an easy task and it demands that social work educators remain committed to, and an advocate for, the values and vision of the profession. Social work is not an easy job but it can be extremely rewarding and there are multiple routes to take within the profession. My advice to the next generation of social work students is to not lose sight of the passion and vision that brought them to the profession and to enjoy the journey that this takes them on.
Source: own contribution (16.8.2017)