Abstract: Preparing MSWs for Integrated Care: Five-Years of Post-Graduation Data (Society for Social Work and Research 24th Annual Conference - Reducing Racial and Economic Inequality)

52P Preparing MSWs for Integrated Care: Five-Years of Post-Graduation Data

Thursday, January 16, 2020
Marquis BR Salon 6 (ML 2) (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
* noted as presenting author
Lisa Zerden, PhD, Senior Associate Dean of the MSW Program, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Brianna Lombardi, PhD, MSW, Assistant Professor, University of Pittsburgh, PA
Steven Day, MCP, Research Assoc Prof, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Background & Aims:Changes in health care policy and service delivery have led to an expansion of integrated health services. This shift moves providers away from fragmented health care delivery toward the development of integrated care models that rely on interprofessional health teams to meet patients’ needs holistically. To be successful in emerging healthcare positions, social work graduates must be trained in skills necessary for integrated health delivery and interprofessional team practice. Recognizing the need for a trained workforce for integrated care, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) invested in MSW programs to prepare graduates for practice in these settings.  In 2014, HRSA awarded 62 MSW programs with Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training(BHWET) grants. The BHWET program continued with 2017 funding that included awards to 58 MSW programs. However, to date, little is known about how these workforce initiatives impact job placement and readiness post-MSW graduation. This paper presents data from five cohorts of MSW students (2013—2014 to 2018-2019) to compare graduates who participated in an integrated behavioral health training program versus those who did not.

Methods: A brief on-line survey was administered via Qualtrics to graduates from 2014—2019, 6-months post-graduation (N=618). All respondents were given a $10 incentive for participating. Survey questions focused on four domains related to: concentration type (micro vs. macro), population or area of focus after graduation, extent to which MSW education was effective in preparing graduates for first job, and skill development based on the core competencies of integrated care as set by SAMHSA and HRSA. Bivariate analyses included 2 tailed T-tests to assess differences between groups (those in the specialized training versus traditional MSW program).

Results: Across all five cohorts, graduates who participated in the specialized integrated behavioral health training program (16%) were significantly more likely to rate their abilities higher than their counterparts. Specifically those with specialized training indicated an increased ability to function as members of an interprofessional health care team (p<.001);ability to create and implement care plans and ensure access to an array of linked services (p<.01);ability to provide a range of brief, prevention, treatment and recovery services (p<.05);ability to function effectively within the organizational and financial structures of their jobs (p<.001);and to use information technology to support service delivery (p<.01).

Conclusions and Implications: Given the increased attention to team-based care in health transformation, federal investment in the BHWET program, and job growth projections of social work in the health and behavioral health sector, integrated care is undoubtedly here to stay.Social work is a critical workforce in the deployment of integrated care models in an ever-evolving healthcare context. Workforce initatives, like BHWET, can help create a prepared and effective workforce. Practice, education, and research endeavors must be able to demonstrate the effectiveness of workforce initiatives to promote the social work profession in integrated behavioral health settings.