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Learning about professional identity for newly-qualified social workers

28 Feb 2024

3 min read

Nicola Giles


  • Social work
  • Learning and development

Nicola Giles, National Professional Lead – Social Work, Фڱس shares more detail about the latest forums for ASYE assessors and newly-qualified social workers, where they learned about professional identity.

Фڱس hosts a variety of professional networks with registered managers, nurses, social workers, newly-qualified social workers, and allied health professionals. These are a great way for regulated professionals to keep learning.

Our assessor and NQSW forums are for Assessed and Supported Year in Employment (ASYE) assessors and newly-qualified social workers.

Our latest forums for these groups were held in December and were focused on professional identity in social work, particularly how social workers can form a professional identity early in their career.

The idea came about based on feedback from newly-qualified social workers who told us this is an area they’d really like to learn more about. They didn’t really have a clear sense of what their professional identity was and the relevance of this in relation to their role as social workers.

We know that beginning the ASYE can be a tumultuous time for newly-qualified social workers as they transition from being students to beginning new roles as qualified and registered professionals.

Professional identity is a crucial aspect of social work. It’s defined as the sense of self that’s derived from your professional role and the values, attitudes, and beliefs that underpin it.

Having a strong professional identity is essential for social workers to be effective in their roles, to build resilience and to maintain their wellbeing. A clear professional identity helps social workers to position themselves and their colleagues to the outside world and to others who they might cross professional paths with.

Being clear and confident about identity is considered to improve social workers’ contribution in working with other professionals, and a strong, positive sense of professional identity bolsters social workers’ resilience to the stresses of the work.

From research, we know that your early career is a vital time for forming your professional identity and that it can take up to five years for social workers to feel that they have a clear sense of professional identity.

In our forum we wanted to begin a conversation with assessors and newly-qualified social workers for them to explore:

  • who and what are the key influencers on the development of professional identity
  • what factors can strengthen professional identity
  • what factors can negatively impact the formation of professional identity
  • some of the theoretical resources and research in this area
  • some questions and case scenarios which can be used in supervision.

The assessors forum explored which people, groups and other factors they felt influenced the formation of professional identity for newly-qualified social workers.

Responses from the group included the team around a newly-qualified social worker, their ASYE assessor, their manager, the media, their route into social work, and their professional history.

We asked assessors to think about their role in supporting newly-qualified social workers to develop their professional identity.

Assessors felt they played an important role in helping shape the professional identity of the newly-qualified social workers and that this can be done in several ways, including modelling professional behaviour, supporting with continuing professional development and supporting with decision making.

There was a real appetite across both groups to discuss this topic further and attendees found the conversation very valuable for their professional learning and development.

 

Find more support for learning and development with our #KeepLearning spotlight.

Find out more support for newly-qualified social workers.


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