BPD Update Online, Winter 2002
Editor's Prerogative
President's Report
Helping in a Crisis
Teaching Social Policy from a Black South African Perspective
On the BSW Student's Mind - LICENSURE
Technology Corner: BPD's Newly Updated Web Site
Denver, 2001
Denver, 2001, Continued
Denver, 2001, The Photo Album, Continued
Denver, 2001, Continued
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On the BSW Student's Mind - LICENSURE


Linda May Grobman, ACSW, LSW

I started an e-mail newsletter earlier this year, THE NEW SOCIAL WORKER's Social Work E-News. In a recent issue, I asked BSW student subscribers to tell me the one question they would like to have answered.

The most common response was, "How can I prepare for the licensure exam? How do I become certified (or licensed), and what are the differences between the different levels of certification/licensure?"

Students who visit THE NEW SOCIAL WORKER's Web site or who read my publications often ask me these same kinds of questions. I am surprised at the number of students and recent graduates who don't know this basic information. I recently heard of a new BSW graduate who applied for and was offered a job, only to find out that she couldn't accept the offer until she was licensed. She had not known this beforehand, and she hadn't taken the exam yet!

When I worked as a staff member at my state Chapter of NASW, I often visited social work programs in the area and spoke to groups of students. The subject of licensure was a popular one for these talks. We often covered the following:

1. What is licensure?
2. What is the purpose of licensure?
3. What are the specifics of licensing for social workers in this state?
4. What are the levels of licensure in this state (and surrounding states)?
5. What are the requirements for licensing at my level (BSW, MSW, and so forth)?
6. How (and when) do I apply to become licensed?
7. How (and when) do I apply to take the licensure exam?
8. How can I best prepare for the licensure exam?
9. Is licensure required before I can get a job?

Even if your state doesn't have BSW licensing, or is working toward it and doesn't have it yet, students will still wonder and have questions. Left unanswered, their questions will only lead to increased anxiety about life after graduation.

You can help your BSW students with the answers to these and other basic licensure questions by:

1. Incorporating licensure content into required courses in your BSW program.
2. Inviting a staff member from your state Chapter of NASW, a state licensing board member, or another knowledgeable person to give a talk on licensure.
3. Talking about test-taking and exam preparation techniques. Besides knowing about licensing requirements, students need reassurance about the exam itself.
4. Referring students to the Web site of the Association of Social Work Boards (http://www.aswb.org). This site includes contact and basic information for licensure in each state and, therefore, is especially helpful for students who may be planning a nationwide job search or a move to another state.
5. Providing a packet of information that covers licensing basics and/or posting a licensing FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) on your department's Web site. This will give students something tangible that they can refer to later, if needed.

These are basic steps that most BSW programs are probably already taking. Students may benefit from receiving the information early in the program, or from receiving it at various times throughout the program, for reinforcement. (Take a lesson from the business world-studies show that people have to see an advertisement about 9 times before they remember the product!)

Taking these simple steps can help your students to be better informed and will relieve some of their fears about social work in the real world.

Linda May Grobman, ACSW, LSW, is the editor and publisher of THE NEW SOCIAL WORKER: THE MAGAZINE FOR SOCIAL WORK STUDENTS AND RECENT GRADUATES. The magazine's Web site is at http://www.socialworker.com.

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