Transition and adjustment to professional identity as a newly qualified social worker

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14 Citations (Scopus)


This article discusses the lived experience of professional identity during the transition from student to newly qualified practitioner. Current literature emphasises the first year of practice as an important time of transition to a job-role as student social workers move into postqualification practice. However, little research has explored how professional identity is experienced during this significant transition period. A phenomenological research project was undertaken with 17 newly qualified social workers in Australia. Three in-depth semistructured interviews were conducted with each participant across the first 12 months postqualification period. Participants described how they resolved personal, relational, and professional questions about becoming and being a qualified social worker. The findings indicate a need for educators, employers, supervisors and the profession to consider how to better integrate professional identity within curricula, policy, and systems of support, including supervision. IMPLICATIONS Findings from a qualitive study indicate the initial postqualification period involves consolidating, clarifying, and settling into professional identity as a newly qualified social worker. Educators should consider a holistic approach to curriculum development regarding professional identity and how they prepare graduating students to transition from university to qualified practice. The Australian Association of Social Work, supervisors, and managers are prompted to recognise and support the changing and evolving professional identities of newly qualified practitioners.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)206-218
Number of pages13
JournalAustralian Social Work
Issue number2
Early online dateFeb 2019
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019


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