Social workers face a complex and ever-challenging environment. The Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) report, Crossing the Quality Chasm (IOM, 2001), noted the dramatic changes in service delivery in the United States will require new skills among those in the workforce. The changes include the shift in emphasis from acute care to chronic care, the increasing use of team-based and other complex service delivery structures, and more collaborative patient-clinician relationships. Now more than ever, the workforce is looking for lifelong learning programs to build their competencies and state and local agencies are seeking partnerships with academic institutions to build career ladders for the people they employ. To respond to these challenges, Boston University’s School of Social Work (BUSSW) aims to build upon our talented pool of alumni and create opportunities for alumni to continue to be engaged with BUSSW and further their knowledge and skills through lifelong learning and graduate opportunities.
As a first step, we plan to create a portal that will serve as a “one-stop shopping” for all training and workforce development efforts at the School of Social Work. As part of this, we plan to develop a robust and interactive “Trainers Bureau” that will list subject matter experts in a variety of topic areas who are alumni and faculty members at SSW who are interested in providing training across the country. This will allow us to build upon our talented alumni pool as subject matter experts who can hold in-person training, webinars, review online courses, and serve as online course authors in order to expand and diversify BUSSW’s offerings. The second component is to further build the skills and competencies of our alumni subject matter experts to become expert trainers and course developers. We plan to create a mini series of online courses to train the trainer in areas of best practices in training, developing and delivering content, and evaluating the training outcomes. The final component, built off the earlier foundational work, will be to recruit a cadre from the above-mentioned pool of content area experts who can serve as “consultants” to state departments and agencies across the country who are looking for guidance/technical assistance in assessing training needs and developing training programs that will build the competencies of the workforce.