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Dalhousie University’s  Master of Social Work: Social Transformation, Social Justice and Social Work 

Kaitrin Doll’s education allows them to fill health-care gaps for marginalized groups

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Qhe Dalhousie School of Social Work emphasizes critical, anti-oppressive and social justice approaches to social work practice.  The School is now offering entrance to the Master of Social Work Program (MSW) to those with a bachelor of Social Work (BSW) and paid social work experience, and to those who do not have a BSW, but have a related four-year undergraduate degree and related paid or unpaid work experience.

Kaitrin Doll moved from Ottawa to Halifax specifically to attend Dalhousie University. Dalhousie's Master of Social Work (MSW) was one of the only programs to offer an independent elective and Kaitrin jumped at the opportunity to do an independent study focused on social work with the queer community.

For nine years Kaitrin was a practicing social worker, and making the switch back to school wasn't something that came naturally. The lecture-style classes involved heavy reading and integrating theory, which is an important part of developing critical reflection skills.

"I had gone into this thinking some of the courses would be a drag, but they surprised me. Our professors encouraged us to explore areas of interest and passion; so I decided to focus on how social work can support safe and inclusive queer communities," they explain.

Once Kaitrin overcame the challenge of managing competing workloads, they noticed how their studies allowed them to step back from their previous day-to-day demands and think critically about systemic injustices and how often social work perpetuates oppressive systems and structures.

After having completed their two semesters of classes, Kaitrin finished with a placement at the Halifax Sexual Health Centre (HSHC). A large portion of the clientele at HSHC are from the queer community; Kaitrin was able to act as a resource person and support counsellor to people accessing HSHC's medical services.

"The reality is the queer community faces many barriers to accessing affirmative healthcare services, and some need support through that process," Kaitrin explains about being able to connect their clients to resources available. "Physicians are often busy and only have a small amount of time to get everyone in. Social workers can support individuals who may have more complex needs or may want someone to talk to them when they're struggling with a new diagnosis."

While still in this placement, Kaitrin applied for the prideHealth Coordinator position with the Nova Scotia Health Authority and was the successful applicant. Kaitrin finished the last bit of their placement in that position, and now is working to improve access to affirmative care for the 2SLGBTQIA+ community.

Kaitrin has many positive things to say about their experience at Dalhousie.

"I felt like my professors put a lot of effort into making sure we understood the challenging content, and that the courses were engaging. It was refreshing to have people who were so pumped about the program and social work practice," they say.

Kaitrin says one of the things they hear from students wanting to pursue an MSW is they want to come out with clinical skills. Kaitrin recognizes this as valuable but notes it's equally important to zoom out and think about how larger inequities and oppression are continuously perpetuated in society and what policies and structural shifts must occur to make the biggest impact.

For more information, please contact Graduate Coordinator Catrina Brown at catrina.brown@dal.ca.

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In Print This Week

Vol 27, No 25
November 14, 2019

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