A review of research about the transition from student social worker to practitioner: Exploring diversity

Lana M. Battaglia, Catherine A. Flynn

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Summary: With increasing student mobility to and from western host-universities, newly qualified social workers are more likely to enter the field in an unfamiliar context. To examine whether current knowledge appropriately informs education and support for a diversifying cohort of newly qualified social workers in the Australian context, a scoping review was conducted on 53 articles investigating the transition to social work practice. Research conducted over a 45-year period from a broad range of international contexts was included in the review. Findings: Findings suggest that current understandings do not reflect the needs or experiences of the present cohort of newly qualified social workers as they transition to social work practice. Rather, study samples, mostly derived from western contexts, are notably homogenous, with most participants described by researchers, as ‘white’. Additionally, there is an assumption that students transition to practice within the same context as their education. Current knowledge therefore does not capture the various ways internationally mobile, newly graduated social workers may transition to practice, or how it is experienced. Applications: Findings suggest that further examination is urgently needed on the pathways navigated to practice by diverse and mobile early career social workers. Further consideration of the influences of diversity and mobility on experience is needed, using more inclusive research methods, to capture the variability and complexity of the transition to practice as the profession diversifies and mobilises.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)834-857
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Social Work
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2020


  • diversity
  • newly qualified social workers (NQSWs)
  • research methods, international students, social work education
  • Social work
  • student mobility
  • transition to practice

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