NASW attends Society for Social Work Research conference

Mar 8, 2012

By Rena Malai, NEWS Staff

More than 1,400 people from the social work field – including professors, doctoral students, and academic and agency researchers – gathered at the Grand Hyatt in Washington, D.C., for the 16th annual Society for Social Work Research conference, “Research That Makes a Difference: Advancing Practice and Shaping Public Policy.”
Participants were able to choose and attend a wide variety of informational seminars, which spanned the course of five days in January.

One of the most well-attended sessions at the annual event – “Race and Ethnicity in Research and Practice” – was an invited session that drew more than 100 attendees.
“Overall, the panel was excellent and so well-attended that the session had to be moved from its scheduled space into a ballroom to accommodate all participants,” said NASW President Jeane Anastas, who attended the session. “Each panelist offered a unique perspective on conceptual and methodological frameworks informing their own research.”

According to SSWR President Rowena Fong, panelists Karina Walters, Sean Joe and Vincent Guilamo-Ramos each presented well-researched data on their featured subject matter in the seminar.
“Dr. Karina Walters has established an evidence-based research framework that captures the social injustices of micro-insults and micro-aggressions that Native American populations face in racial stereotypes and derogatory comments,” Fong said. “Dr. Sean Joe articulated the imperative to include immigration when considering race and ethnic diversity, designing research studies, and interpreting research findings. We are reminded by Dr. Vincent Guilamo-Ramos that ethnic minority researchers continue to be underrepresented among faculty in academic institutions in the U.S.”

NASW Executive Director Elizabeth J. Clark and Special Assistant to the Executive Director Elizabeth Hoffler attended several sessions at the SSWR conference, including the opening plenary, “Building Capacity and Supporting the Search for Solutions: A New Model for Conducting Research that Makes a Difference.”
Clark and Hoffler also attended the 2012 Aaron Rosen lecture, “Transforming an Aging Society,” and a session on federal funding for social work research, which featured officials from several government agencies.
“NASW looks forward to working with SSWR representative Sarah Gehlert, who will address social work research at the national level,” Hoffler said.

Joan Levy Zlotnik, director of NASW’s Social Work Policy Institute, presented two sessions during SSWR: “Psychosocial Care, Social Work and Research” and “Building Social Work Research Capacity.” The sessions were presented separately and addressed the need for having trained social workers in long-term care and emphasized the need for establishing research-practice links between the academy and the field.
“In ‘Psychosocial Care,’ we talked about the enhanced screening methods that are being required in nursing homes,” Zlotnik said. “Often, the people working in nursing home facilities are not skilled in elder care. And due to weak federal requirements, the criteria are not in place to hire more knowledgeable staff. We need to ensure that more BSWs are trained and educated to meet the needs and demands of addressing psychosocial needs in nursing homes and are also encouraged to pursue careers in providing elder care, especially in nursing home settings.”

Those who attended the “Research Capacity” seminar took away tools and information to help them apply for research funding and undertake strategies to build institutional research infrastructure. This includes developing relationships and reaching out to obtain information on federal research funding available to social work students and faculty alike, Zlotnik said.

SSWR 2012 award winners also were recognized during the conference, including awards for Early Career Achievement; Excellence in Research; Outstanding Social Work Doctoral Dissertation; and Doctoral Fellows.
“There were many excellent sessions showcasing social work research and a strong presence of doctoral students and new graduates in attendance,” Anastas said. “Dr. Clark and I were pleased to meet with the outgoing and incoming SSWR presidents to talk about collaborative initiatives in addition to ANSWER that NASW and SSWR can engage in going forward.”
SSWR is a member organization of the Action Network for Social Work Education and Research, which is the steering committee for the Social Work Reinvestment Initiative.
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