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VHA Social Work

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National Social Work Program

VA Social Work Allied Health Professions Trainee Program

Universities and Colleges with affiliations

Many universities and colleges with social work programs have affiliation agreements for students to complete field placements at VA facilities. Contact your local university or College Field Placement Coordinator to inquire if your school has an affiliation agreement with a VA facility in your geographic area.

Clinical traineeship
The VA operates the largest and most comprehensive clinical training program for social workers. The VA is affiliated with over 230 graduate schools of social work and trains approximately 1500 Master of Social Work health profession trainees a year. VA’s impact on social work education affects the current health care curriculum, standards for clinical practice, and expands the roles and functions of clinical social workers. 

Social Work Health Profession Trainee Program
The Social Work Trainee Program provides a robust training and educational opportunity, in a welcoming atmosphere, to masters level social work students. Students will be prepared for the unique challenges social workers face in the workplace. The length of the program typically runs from the beginning of the academic year (Late August) to the end of the academic year (End of April).

Traineeship goals include:
• Develop biopsychosocial assessment skills
• Develop suicide risk assessment skills
• Develop suicide prevention safety plan development skills
• Develop Evidence Based Treatment (EBT) and clinical intervention skills such as (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Motivational Interviewing)
• Develop case management skills
• Develop the ability to facilitate group and individual therapy
• Develop discharge planning skills
• Develop skills
• Develop skills to assess and intervene with issues related to abuse, neglect and intimate partner violence
• Learn how to work effectively as part of an interprofessional team.
• Learn how to complete advance directives and facilitate advanced care planning discussions.
• Learn how to provide psychoeducation.
• Develop an understanding of internal and external resources available to the Veteran and Active-Duty Military population.
• Develop Resource referral and allocation skills.
• Develop community engagement and partnership skills

How to apply for field placements
Have your Field Placement Coordinator contact the Social Work Education Coordinator at the VA facility where you are interested in completing your internship. Your Field Placement Coordinator will provide you the application to complete for a VA field placement.

The Social Work Health Profession Trainee Program Co-chairs are the primary liaisons for schools of social work who place master’s-candidate health profession trainees with social work field instructors (supervisors) in the medical centers and community clinics. Typically, the coordinator links with schools of social work, identifies appropriate field placements and field instructors, assists in selection through interviewing and applications, and assists in facilitating required paperwork. They may also provide group supervision and orientation for the health profession trainees. 

Availability of stipends
Some VA facilities have stipends (salary or allowance) available for students completing field placements. Please have your Field Placement Coordinator contact the VA Social Wk Education Coordinator to determine stipend availability and application procedures.

Applying for VA employment post internship
Students who complete field placements at VA facilities are encouraged to discuss employment opportunities with the Social Work Chief or Executive.

National/local Vacancies

To learn about national vacancies and how to apply, visit the website USA Jobs or VA Student Careers. You may also contact the Human Resource office at the facility of your interest .

The Pathways Program
The Pathways Program offers federal internship and employment opportunities for current students, recent graduates, and those with an advanced degree. 
Learn more:

VA Office of Academic Affiliation
The Office of Academic Affiliations conducts education and training programs for health professions trainees to enhance the quality of care provided for Veteran patients.

Social Work Licensure

In compliance with Public Law 106-419, VA social workers appointed after August 14, 1991, must be licensed at the master’s level to independently practice social work in a state. VA social workers have a master's degree in social work (MSW or MSSW). Some are also limited licensed master social workers (LLMSW), licensed master social workers (LMSW), or licensed clinical social workers (LCSW).