Suicide is a major public health issue in the United States. The National Strategy for Suicide Prevention recommended increased education for individuals who work directly with at-risk populations, such as clients in child welfare programs, programs that serve older adults, and those working with adjudicated youths. Many BSW graduates enter direct practice positions in these agencies and would benefit from education on suicide during their BSW program. This teaching note describes a BSW course on understanding suicide. The course development, content, readings, assignments, and inclass exercises are described. The feedback of the students who enrolled in this course (N=17) is included. Implications for instructors, including considering students' own lived experiences with suicide, and for undergraduate social work programs are identified.
While doctoral education is growing in the United States, attrition from doctoral programs is high; 40-60% of students who begin doctoral programs do not complete them. Previous research has explored reasons for attrition, but little research has examined persistence, and none have looked at persistence for women during and after pregnancy. This qualitative study explored female doctoral students and graduates’ (n=28) attributions of persistence to completion in their professional healthcare doctoral programs (57% social work) after a pregnancy and/or birth. Two primary themes emerged from this study. First, women attributed their persistence in the program to internal resources such as determination, organization, discipline, and the ability to assess needs and shift resources, schedules, plans, or expectations to meet those needs. Second, some women attributed their ability to persist in their program to good luck, in terms of fertility, pregnancy timing, expectations of the student, and family friendly advisors and programs. Dissertation chairs and advisors can use these findings to more effectively support pregnant and parenting students, including helping them build important skills and reflect on implicit messages about caregiving women who are doctoral students.