Social workers at Unity Health Toronto receive research grant to advance student placement experience

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On Oct. 8, Unity Health Toronto’s Social Work department accepted the grant cheque from the University of Toronto. In this photo, from left to right, are: Beverly Bulmer, VP Education; Eileen Mckee, U of T’s assistant dean in Field Education; Dexter R. Voisin, dean of the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work; Rebecca Norlock, social worker, St. Michael’s Inpatient Psychiatry; Sonya Canzian, VP Clinical Programs and Chief Nursing & Professions Officer; Aimee Hindle and Helen Tomalik, St. Michael’s Health Disciplines & Academic Affairs managers; Heather Hrobsky, social worker, St. Joseph’s Psychiatry Unit; Lauren Massey, St. Michael’s manager of Collaborative Practice and Education; Shelley Allen, Providence’s professional practice leader, Social Work; Denise Kwan, social worker, St. Joseph’s Mental Health Short Stay Unit; Kimberley Bradley, St. Michael’s interim director of Health Disciplines Practice and Education; Katie Sussman, social worker, St. Michael’s Academic Family Health Team; and Magda Doran, social worker, Providence’s Orthopaedic & Amputee Rehabilitation. (Photo by Medial Media)

Oct. 10, 2019 – Unity Health Toronto’s Social Work department has been awarded a $45,000 grant through the Bertha Rosenstadt Trust Fund in Health Research to support the first-ever collaboration for social workers across the network.

This grant, provided by the University of Toronto’s Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, is awarded to partner organizations that offer placements for the school’s students and funds research work in the area of social work field education.

“Field education is the cornerstone of the Masters of Social Work education experience; it provides our students with exceptional learning opportunities,” said Eileen McKee, the university’s assistant dean in Field Education.

“We selected Unity Health Toronto for the grant because our faculty has enjoyed a long-standing positive relationship with the three partners and is aware of the excellent learning opportunities that their social workers can provide.”

Lauren Massey, manager of Collaborative Practice and Education, said the grant will allow six clinical social workers and two practice leaders to research the issues faced by students in transitioning from the classroom to clinical placement. The goal will be to create standardized education sessions for all of Unity Health Toronto’s social work students. The research plan was developed in consultation with the Faculty of Social Work.

“This grant is providing the opportunity to engage in social work-specific research and engage in curriculum development, facilitation and knowledge translation collaboratively. We hope our learners across all three sites will be provided a standardized and rich transition to placement and given critical knowledge and skills to enhance their learning throughout,” said Massey.

The participating social workers are:

  • Magda Doran in Providence’s A5 Orthopaedic and Amputee Rehab
  • Julia Gibran in Providence’s Stroke and Neuro Rehab
  • Heather Hrobsky in St. Joseph’s Psychiatry Unit
  • Denise Kwan in St. Joseph’s Mental Health Short Stay Unit
  • Rebecca Norlock in St. Michael’s Inpatient Psychiatry
  • Katie Sussman in St. Michael’s Academic Family Health Team

The two practice leaders are Massey and Shelley Allen, professional practice leader in Social Work at Providence.

“In my personal and professional experiences, it can be challenging to transfer all the hard-earned classroom knowledge into clinical settings with real life patients. It’s a combination of both competence and confidence,” explained Kwan.

“Through this grant, students will be more comfortable engaging with patients and families, and preceptors will be better able to support students’ learning goals and needs. It’s the research that keeps on giving!”