Preparation for practice: Embedding the development of professional identity within social work curriculum

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17 Citations (Scopus)


Newly qualified social workers often enter challenging interdisciplinary settings where they need to be able to clearly articulate a distinctive professional identity. To prepare for these realities, this paper discusses how the development of professional identity has become increasingly central to qualifying social work curriculum at an Australian university. Preparation for social work practice has long been the focus of research in a number of countries, with a significant emphasis on knowledge and skill acquisition, rather than on the development of an overarching professional identity that is also underpinned by shared values and sense of professional purpose and expectations. Against this backdrop, the paper describes initial changes that have been made within core social work courses to progressively embed the development of professional identity more consciously across their studies, to be better prepared for contemporary challenges in the workplace. It is concluded that further changes are needed to fully transform the curriculum, and that the impacts of these changes be systematically evaluated in relation to preparedness for practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)983-995
Number of pages12
JournalSocial Work Education
Issue number8
Early online date19 Mar 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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