SWOSU Social Work Program Continues to Grow


March is National Social Workers Month and Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford is one of six Oklahoma universities that offer a Bachelor of Social Work degree.

The SWOSU program recently received reaffirmation from the Council on Social Work Education’s standards for social work education.

“The CSWE accreditation is a rigorous process that requires adherence to national standards and insures a quality education for students,” said Debbi McFarlin, assistant professor and director of the social work program. “The accreditation demands a good deal of effort from our faculty, but the students have a definite advantage in obtaining a degree from a CSWE accredited school.”

McFarlin said to be called or use the title of “social worker” in Oklahoma, a person must have a professional social work degree from a CSWE accredited program and be licensed through the Oklahoma State Board of Licensed Social Workers.

Chris Gregston and McFarlin are both faculty members at SWOSU and earned their MSW from the University of Oklahoma and hold license within the state of Oklahoma.

At SWOSU, the student Social Work Organization is involved in numerous activities throughout the year that benefits nursing homes, children’s agencies and other charitable organizations. The student association is an active group of students that are seeking social work as a profession. The students attend the Oklahoma National Association of Social Workers-sponsored lobby day at the Oklahoma State Capitol. This year the students had the opportunity to visit with area legislators, including James Covey, Purcy Walker and Ryan McMullen. The late Senator Robert Kerr always took time to visit the SWOSU students as well.

The SWOSU Social Work program works closely with area social service agencies in meeting the needs of the communities. McFarlin said students are currently involved with DHS in the Child Welfare Professional Enhancement Program. DHS is seeking social work students of that aspire to work in child welfare. McFarlin said SWOSU has been able to place students in DHS offices and they are frequently hired upon graduation. SWOSU is currently recruiting students that are eligible for the DHS. Eligible students will receive monetary funds to pursue their education.

McFarlin said social work is a field that offers diverse opportunities. Social workers can be found working in such settings as: child and juvenile services, mental health services, crisis intervention programs, family service agencies, public health agencies, hospitals, aging services, domestic violence programs, criminal justice agencies, substance abuse treatment programs, legal services, adoptions, hospices, schools, developmental disabilities services, immigration service and community action agencies. The bachelor level graduate is prepared to step into numerous positions.

Many master level social workers specialize in clinical social work and provide psychotherapy in private practice and organizations. Social workers provide most of the country’s mental health services. According to government sources, McFarlin said 60% of mental health professionals are clinically trained social workers, compared to 10% of psychiatrists, 23% of psychologists and 5% of psychiatric nurses. Federal law and the National Institutes of Health recognize social work as one of five core mental health professions.

Information about social work education and the DHS program is available by calling SWOSU 580.774.7087.