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BLOG: Students – NIASW can help you ‘survive and thrive’ during placements

NIASW’s Anne McAllister explains how your professional body can help you to shine on your PLO.

Preparing for your first placement can be a time of great excitement but can also cause anxiety. Being a member of your professional body from the start of training gives you a sense of professional identity, assists with professional development and offers you support and protection if challenges arise during your placement experience.

We also offer events that can help; at the start of the month, NIASW hosted a Practice Development Day for Student Social Workers at Queen’s University. The students who attended were all about to be told where they will be going on their first practice learning opportunity (PLO) in January. The day focussed on calming nerves and encouraging people to think about the skills, knowledge and values they already have.

It was also great to hear from the horse’s mouth. Social Work Student Peter Cairns shared his experiences of being on his first PLO earlier this year. He was able to recount his own experiences and share what assisted him to have a successful and educational PLO.

A key part of my role in NIASW is to offer advice and guidance to students on how to maximise the opportunity to translate what you are learning on your course into practice.

As a social worker of 24 years, I really do appreciate the challenge of learning the job and how much responsibility you are going to feel faced with. It’s only natural to struggle when learning new skills but always remember you share common problems and everyone will have days when things go wrong.

It’s really important that student social workers have the opportunity to engage in direct practice learning while undertaking their degree. Your practice learning opportunity can give you a safe environment to translate your knowledge into practice experience and begin to develop as a professional social worker.

This Practice Development Day will be repeated at Magee University in December and I look forward to meeting many more of you there.

If you can’t attend but would like some informal advice, please get in touch with me a.mcallister@basw.co.uk