It’s no surprise that in a profession with a value base described by ethical standards, educators would place the EPAS competency Demonstrate Ethical and Professional Behavior at the top of its list. And it’s also no surprise that Yvonne Chase, Ph.D., LCSW, who serves as an assistant professor in the department of human services at the University of Alaska, was tapped to lead the committee charged with creating content for that competency for inclusion in the Curricular Guide for Regulation and Licensing. Her experience teaching ethics courses and as a member of the NASW Insurance Trust Board, which governs NASW Risk Retention Group (RRG)—a cosponsor of the guide—means she could help her committee to convey a deep understanding of the connection between social work ethical standards and relevant regulation.
Chase was motivated to take a leadership role by her conviction that there is a need for education about regulation while students are in school. “One of the things I often hear from former students is that they wish they had the opportunity while in school to tie their theoretical knowledge to real life situations,” she says. “It is a disservice to students if they graduate without an understanding of the regulatory environment in which they must practice.”
Chase herself plans to use suggested reading material and assignments from the guide in the bachelor’s and master’s ethics courses she teaches. “…Students realize that as social workers, they are to adhere to the code of ethics,” she says. “However, what is often missing is that connection between the code and licensing regulations and having students realize the importance of understanding the regulations for the state(s) in which they plan to practice.”
Chase is also positioned to understand the competency as it relates to risk management. She teaches ethics courses for NASW RRG, which helps licensed social workers evaluate and manage risk in their professional practice. The guide’s introduction states, “Risk management with regard to ethical practice is also an important content area in preparing students for licensed practice. Ethics-based case scenarios and case studies can be used to help students understand ethical responsibilities and practice expectations.”
The curricular content found in the guide, Chase believes, can help students go on to practice in ways that minimize risk. “Social workers who have a good understanding of the licensing requirements in the state(s) in which they practice,” she says, “as well as the consequences for not adhering to those regulatory requirements, will generally be more thoughtful when it comes to areas of potential malpractice.”
Ultimately, the value of the curricular guide will be realized when social work faculty use it with students to help them see the relationship between the aspirational nature of a code of ethics and how regulation makes ethical conduct obligatory. The guide is “a valuable resource,” Chase asserts, “that will assist faculty in bridging for students that transition between the NASW Code of Ethics and the regulations that will govern their practice.”
Yvonne Chase, Ph.D., LCSW, of Anchorage, Alaska, received her bachelor’s degree from Loyola University, a master’s degree from Howard University, and a doctorate from Norfolk State University. Among Chase’s commendations are the 2010 Shining Star Award, presented by the National Association of Black Elected Officials for outstanding service to the community and the 2003 Gold Pan Award, for five years of service as chair of the Governing Body of Alaska’s Psychiatric Institute. She has published multiple HHS reports on child abuse and protection. She serves on the faculty at the University of Alaska and has been on the faculty of Walden University. As an NASW leader, she was elected to the national board and appointed to the NASW Insurance Trust Board. Chase chaired the task force on NASW’s procedures for handling ethics complaints and the NASW Chapter/National Modernization Task Force.