Reflections on the Scientist-Practitioner Model in Social Work Doctoral Education



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University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work


The scientist-practitioner model (S-P) is one of the primary frameworks social work has utilized in an effort to infuse research into practice and practice into research. With a firm practitioner orientation already embedded into bachelor and master of social work programs, concerted efforts have been made to infuse the scientist aspect of the model into these programs. Conversely, at the doctoral level the primary focus shifts to developing researchers and so while the scientist orientation is firmly rooted in PhD curriculums the practitioner aspect of the model is less evident. However, parallel efforts to infuse doctoral programs with a stronger practitioner orientation are lacking. Through a reflection on my experiences as a first year doctoral student as they relate to the S-P model, considerations for social work doctoral education are discussed. My experiences reveal the utility of the fully realized model in developing mutually reinforcing research, teaching, and practice skills, as well as illustrate how adopting a stronger practitioner focus may help to bring programs more into alignment with the field’s practice orientation and aid in bridging the research-practice gap.



Perspectives on Social Work, Sarah Ascienzo, Social Work Doctoral Education, Scientist-Practitioner, Research Practice Gap, Perspectives on Social Work, Social work, Social Work Doctoral Education, Scientist-Practitioner, Research Practice Gap