Katie Krukenberg is an MSW graduate (2006) from Florida State University and a licensed clinical social worker in North Dakota. She works at the University of Mary and is an assistant professor of social work as well as the director of field education for the social work program.
March is designated National Professional Social Work Month, and each year this is a time to celebrate the contributions of social workers as well as the important work done by social workers in communities everywhere. Students in Florida State University’s MSW program students learn about social work practice at all levels, and as future practitioners they join in the celebration during Social Work Month.
The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) has designated this year’s Social Work Month theme as “Elevate Social Work,” which they state in their 2019 Proclamation, “embodies the need to recognize the extraordinary contributions of the profession to our society. Here are 3 ways that social workers “Elevate Social Work.”
The core values from the NASW Code of Ethics include respect for the dignity and worth of the person and the importance of human relationships. Central to the work done by social workers are their relationships with their clients, whether working with individuals, families, groups, organizations, or communities. Social workers use a strengths based model to partner with people in a way that promotes positive outcomes and upholds the inherent worth of all people. Social workers empower others to achieve their own goals, and advocate for social justice on behalf of clients who are marginalized or oppressed by society. We “Elevate” social work by continuing to uphold the importance of relationships with clients.
2. Colleagues and the Profession
Social workers can “Elevate Social Work” by continuing to prioritize partnerships with colleagues and their commitment to the profession. Social work can certainly have challenging moments, and other social workers can provide a tremendous support network for each other. Sharing difficulties, prioritizing and encouraging good self-care, and creating work environments that are respectful and affirming of those that work there will ensure that social workers continuing to have the needed support to sustain their important work.
Social work practice exists at all levels, including micro, mezzo, and macro. The work done at the micro level is critical, particularly in times of crisis and when linking vulnerable people to needed resources; however, social work practice at the macro level impacts the broader society in important ways that might sometimes be more easily overlooked. We can “Elevate Social Work” by recognizing and placing importance on the work done by social workers in advocacy, policy work, grant writing, and community organization. Without the work at this level, the other functions of social work would cease to have the needed elements to be sustainable and effective.
Happy National Professional Social Work Month to all social workers; past, present, and future. While we celebrate the work done by social workers in a variety of settings with any number of client populations, we also strive to “Elevate Social Work” and continue to recognize the value of the field of social work through increased awareness and a commitment to competent and ethical practice.
National Association of Social Workers. (2017). Code of ethics of the National Association of Social Workers. Washington, DC. NASW Press.