Qualification Requirements: VA Qualification Standards Handbook 5005, Part II, Appendix G39, Social Worker. Additional information on the qualification requirements is outlined in the VA Handbook 5005. It is available for your review at http://www/va/gov/ohrm/joblistings/VAQualStds.doc
To qualify for this position, applicants must meet all requirements by the closing date of this announcement.
A Copy of your Transcripts and License MUST BE SUMBITTED with your application packet.
The following are requirements for appointment as a Social Worker in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA). These requirements apply to all VHA Social Workers in the General Schedule (GS)-185 series, including those assigned to VA medical centers, Community-Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOCs), Vet Centers, Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN) offices, and VHA Central Office.
The basic requirements for employment as a VHA social worker are prescribed by statute in 38 U.S.C. 7402(b)(9), as amended by section 205 of Public Law 106-419, enacted November 1, 2000. To qualify for appointment as a Social Worker in VHA, all applicants must:
a. Citizenship. Be a citizen of the United States. (Non-citizens may be appointed when it is not possible to recruit qualified citizens in accordance with chapter 3, section A, paragraph 3g this part.)
b. Education. Have a master's degree in social work from a school of Social Work fully accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Graduates of schools of Social Work that are in candidacy status do not meet this requirement until the school of Social Work is fully accredited. A Doctoral degree in Social Work may not be substituted for the Master's degree in Social Work. Verification of the degree can be made by going to the CSWE website to verify that Social Work degree meets the accreditation standards for a Masters of Social Work.
c. Licensure. Persons hired or reassigned to Social Worker positions in the GS-185 series in VHA must be licensed or certified by a state to independently practice social work at the master's degree level. Current state requirements may be found on the OHRM website.
(1) Exception. VHA may waive the licensure or certification requirement for persons who are otherwise qualified, pending completion of state prerequisites for licensure/certification examinations. This exception only applies up to the full performance level. For grade levels above the full performance level, the candidate must be licensed or certified.
(a) For grades below or at the full performance level, VHA social workers who are not licensed or certified at the time of appointment must become licensed or certified at the independent, master's level within 3 years of their appointment as a social worker. Most states require 2 years of post-MSW experience as a pre-requisite to taking the licensure/certification exam, and VHA gives social workers one additional year to pass the licensure/certification exam. In [states such as] California, [Washington, and others] where the prerequisites for licensure exceed two years, social workers must become licensed at the independent, master's level within one year of meeting the full [state] prerequisites for licensure.
(b) It is VHA policy that Social Workers who does not yet have a license that allows independent practice must be supervised by a licensed independent practitioner of the same discipline who is a VA staff member and who has access to the electronic health record.
(2) Failure to Obtain License or Certification. In all cases, Social Workers must actively pursue meeting state prerequisites for licensure or certification starting from the date of their appointment. At the time of appointment, the supervisor, Chief Social Work or Social Work Executive will provide the unlicensed/uncertified social worker with the written requirements for licensure or certification, including the time by which the license or certification must be obtained and the consequences for not becoming licensed or certified by the deadline. Failure to become licensed or certified within the proscribed amount of time will result in removal from the GS-185 social work series and may result in termination of employment.
(3) Loss of Licensure or Certification. Once licensed or certified, social workers must maintain a full, valid and unrestricted independent license or certification to remain qualified for employment. Loss of licensure or certification will result in removal from the GS-185 social work series and may result in termination of employment.
a. Creditable Experience:
(1) Knowledge of Current Professional Social Work Practices. To be creditable, the experience must have required the use of knowledge, skills, abilities, and other characteristics associated with current professional social work practice. The experience or education must be post-MSW degree. Experience and education satisfying this requirement must be active professional practice, which is paid/non-paid employment as a professional social worker, as defined by the appropriate state licensing board.
(2) Quality of Experience. Experience is only creditable if it is obtained following graduation with a master's degree in social work and if it includes work as a professional social worker directly related to the position to be filled. Qualifying experience must also be at a level comparable to social work experience at the next lower level.
(3) Advanced Practice Level. Advanced Practice Level is defined as the ability to provide independent and expert clinical psychosocial and case management services in a specialized area of practice to veterans who tend to have serious and severe crises, may lack any familial and community support, may be poor self-monitors, may frequently fail to comply with instructions and treatment, or may have major deficits in coping skills and require continuing professional psychological support. The advanced practice or Senior Social Worker has an increased depth and breadth of practice skills; has expertise in participating in the professional development of colleagues through mentorship and teaching; demonstrates leadership in developing and expanding professional intervention strategies; demonstrates leadership in defining and attending to professional practice issues; and has the ability to expand the conceptual knowledge of the profession. The advanced practice or Senior Social Worker will make independent professional decisions and recommendations for agency action; the consequences to the veteran of these decisions and actions may be quite serious. Work involves intensive social work services requiring the exercise of mature professional judgment and the flexible use of a wide range of complex social work practice skills not typically required in routine social work interventions. The advanced practice or senior social worker has mastered a range of specialized interventions and provides consultation to colleagues, renders professional opinions based on experience and expertise, develops new models of psychosocial assessment or intervention, and incorporates complex multiple causation in differential diagnosis and treatment. The advanced practice or Senior Social Worker utilizes outcome evaluations to further treatment and designs system changes based on empirical findings.
(4) Differentiating Full Performance Level from Advanced Practice Level. This is done based on the differences between independent practice, which is required for all VHA social workers, and advanced practice. A social worker practicing at the independent level has a generalized knowledge of practice, whereas the social worker practicing at the advanced level has specialized knowledge of practice typically related to a particular diagnosis or patient population. The advanced practice social worker can be further differentiated from the independent practice social worker by his/her ability to expand clinical knowledge in the profession, provide consultation and guidance to colleagues, role model effective social work practice skills, teach or provide orientation to less experienced social workers, develop innovations in practice interventions, and provide clinical supervision for social work licensure or certification. A social worker with advanced practice skills and personal qualifications that meet the standard for the Senior Social Worker will have passed an advanced generalist or clinical ASWB examination and be assigned to a position that requires use of the advanced practice skills in order to be considered for the senior social worker grade.
(5) Part-Time Experience. Part-time experience as a professional social worker is creditable according to its relationship to the full-time workweek. For example, a social worker employed 20 hours a week, or on a 1/2-time basis, would receive 1 full-time workweek of credit for each 2 weeks of service.
(6) Fellowships or Post-Graduate Training. Fellowship and post-graduate training programs are typically in a specialized area of clinical practice, i.e., group or family practice. Training as a fellow or post-graduate may be substituted for creditable experience on a year-for-year basis.
(7) Practicum in a VA Setting. A VHA practicum experience may not be substituted for experience, as the practicum (field placement) is completed prior to graduation with a master's degree in social work.
b. Grade Determinations. In addition to the basic requirements for employment, the following criteria must be met when determining the grade of candidates.
GS-9 Social Worker
Experience, Education and Licensure. GS-9 is the entry level grade for the GS-185 social work series and is used for social workers with less than one year of post-MSW experience and for social workers who are not yet licensed or certified at the independent practice level. Social workers at the GS-9 level are working toward completion of prerequisites for licensure or certification. In addition, the candidates must demonstrate the KSAs in subparagraph (b).
NOTE: Social workers with more than one year of post-MSW experience may be appointed at an advanced step within the GS-9 grade commensurate with their years of experience.
(b) Demonstrated Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities
1. Ability to provide psychosocial treatment to a wide variety of individuals from various socio-economic, cultural, ethnic, educational, and other diversified backgrounds. This requires knowledge of human development and behavior (physical and psychological), and the differential influences of the environment, society, and culture.
2. Ability to work with patients and families who are experiencing a variety of psychiatric, medical, and social problems utilizing individual, group, and family counseling skills. Work with more complex problems is done under close supervision. With guidance from the social work supervisor, ability to assess the psychosocial functioning and needs of patients and their family members, and to formulate and implement a treatment plan, identifying the patient's problems, strengths, weaknesses, coping skills, and assistance needed.
3. Basic knowledge of psychosocial treatment modalities and, under supervision, ability to implement treatment modalities in working with individuals, families, and groups to achieve treatment goals. This requires judgment and skill in utilizing supportive, problem solving, or crisis intervention techniques.
4. Ability to establish and maintain effective working relationships with clients, staff, and representatives of community agencies. Ability to communicate effectively, both orally and in writing, with people from varied backgrounds.
5. Knowledge of medical and mental health diagnoses, disabilities, and treatment procedures. This includes acute, chronic, and traumatic illnesses/injuries; common medications and their effects/side effects; and medical terminology.
6. Basic skill in the use of computer software applications for drafting documents, data management, and tracking. Ability to learn and utilize software programs in use by VHA.
(c) Assignments. Individuals assigned as GS-9 social workers are considered to be at the entry level and are closely supervised, as they are not yet functioning at the independent practice level conferred by independent licensure or certification. Social Workers at the GS-9 entry level are typically assigned to VHA program areas that do not require specialized knowledge or experience. Since these social workers are not practicing at an independent level, they should not be assigned to program areas where independent practice is required, such as in a CBOC, unless there is a licensed social worker in the program area who can provide supervision for practice. GS-9 social workers provide psychosocial services in the assigned area under supervision.
GS-11 Social Worker
Experience, Education and Licensure. Promotion to the GS-11 full performance level requires completion of a minimum of 1 year of post-MSW degree experience in the field of health care social work (VA or non-VA experience) and licensure or certification in a state at the independent practice level. NOTE: For appointment licensure or certification at this level please refer to paragraph 2c.
In addition to meeting basic requirements, a doctoral degree in social work from a school of social work may be substituted for the required 1 year of professional social work experience in a clinical setting.