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Current and prospective macro social work students should keep in mind that position titles for macro social workers tend to vary and may be hard to categorize, as they are often not as concretely defined as clinical/micro social work roles.
“What draws me into social work is that I feel it has a very applied piece to it,” Kevin Shafer, Ph D, who works as an Assistant Professor of Social Work at Brigham Young University, told Online MSWPrograms.com, “I feel that my studies might actually get applied in clinical or macro settings and might help people.” Dr.
Shafer believes that the field of social work research is distinct from other disciplines because of its practical significance and its adherence to the mission of improving the well-being of individuals and families within their communities.
However, there are strategies that social work students and even practicing clinical social workers can implement to enter macro social work.
The following section contains advice from practicing macro social workers on potential ways to explore and craft a viable career in macro social work.
Examples of initiatives that program development specialists may work on include support programs for children with disabilities or career development programs for adults who have been recently released from prison.
Program development specialists often work with other members of a team to identify the need and available resources for certain programs, and to balance the interests of different stakeholders.Due to the wide variety of responsibilities and roles that fall under macro social work, social workers in this field can work in many different settings, including but not limited to political advocacy groups, universities and other research institutions, non-profits and volunteer organizations, and government think tanks.Specific macro social work roles include but are not limited to policy advocates and analysts, community and human services specialists, program development specialists, and research associates and analysts.However, unlike micro social work (sometimes referred to as direct practice or clinical social work), macro social work does not focus on assessing and addressing people’s problems through one-on-one or even small group assessments, diagnosis, counseling, and treatment.Instead, macro social workers typically help individuals indirectly through one or a combination of the following: Macro social workers can take on a wide variety of roles that involve some or all of the core tasks described above.In an interview with Online MSWPrograms.com, Amy Beaulieu, LCSW, who is a licensed clinical social worker and program development specialist in Bloomington, Indiana, described her program development responsibilities in her past role as a Policy Associate for the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).“I helped develop ideas for systems improvement initiatives alongside managers at DHHS based on needs assessments that I helped to conduct or that were done by their own staff,” she told Online MSWPrograms.com, “Priorities for program development were often in line with funding priorities and federal program improvement guidelines.The work settings that employ community and human services specialists may be comprised of a mix of micro and macro social workers.For example, a state government’s public health department may have direct practice social workers providing individual services to people in need of disability services, and macro social workers who provide program development guidance, organizational support, and policy interpretation where/when needed.Macro social workers typically collaborate with a larger team of researchers, advocates, activists, analysts, educators, and/or government employees.Similarly to micro and mezzo level social work, macro social work focuses on understanding individuals in the context of their environment and how social issues such as socioeconomic disparities; racial discrimination and other forms of prejudice; state and national legislation; and organizational structures at the group, community, state, and national levels contribute to challenges that individuals face individually, in their families, at work, and in their social circles.