by Mary Jo Monahan, MSW, LCSW
On behalf of the board and staff at the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB), I want to thank all social work educators who diligently foster excellence in their students, encourage them in their professional development, especially in becoming licensed, and train students as leaders to guide our beloved profession into further prominence in the future.
The ASWB board and staff wish to form positive, lifelong learning relationships with students as they embark on their individual journeys to complete their education, gain practice and policy experience in fieldwork and postgraduate work experience, and become active participants in the many social work support and advocacy organizations.
However, the most important path on this journey that ASWB is involved in with students is the Path to Licensure and Professional Regulation. This path will be different for each student as he or she continues his or her education and gains practice experience. We believe the Path to Licensure is a sure path to guide students in continued professional development and “living social work values.”
Licensure and professional regulation recognize that social work is so important to the health and welfare of the public—the clients we serve—that certain competency standards must be achieved for someone to enter and maintain practice as a licensed social worker. Clients can be harmed if the social work practitioner falls below these standards of safety, competence, and ethical practice.
Students are being educated to not only meet but exceed these standards in BSW, MSW, and doctoral programs. As you know, ASWB is the organization that supports social work licensure and regulation and offers the national exams that all licensed social workers must successfully pass in order to become licensed. Often I am asked, “How can I best prepare to pass the license exam?” And this is my answer to all of you.
Take your social work education very seriously; participate fully in all of your classes; read all your textbooks; question and challenge your professors, field instructors, and fellow students. Volunteer to lead in class projects and learn how to manage projects and groups. Learn to make prudent and ethical practice decisions, care for your clients, and Be Careful. Join professional associations of your interest and seek out social work mentors. In other words, learn to THINK LIKE A SOCIAL WORKER. This is your best “big picture” preparatio,n not only for passing the social work exam, but for forging an excellent and a satisfying social work career.
And keep in touch with ASWB through our website (www.aswb.org) and use the supports we offer to candidates for licensure, particularly the up-to-date information about laws and regulations for all jurisdictions in North America. Study the ASWB Guide to the Social Work Exams ($20/print and $15/e-book) and consider taking an online practice test ($85) as part of your exam preparation. Follow the Candidate Handbook (available free online at www.aswb.org) to become registered to take the exam. At ASWB, we want you to be successful and join the other licensed social workers in North America—currently almost 500,000 strong.
All my best to each of you on your Social Work Journey and a warm welcome to the profession.
Mary Jo Monahan, MSW, LCSW, is the Chief Executive Officer of the Association of Social Work Boards.