Social Worker
Department Of Veterans Affairs - Beckley, WV

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Vacancy Identification Number (VIN): 791834

This position may be filled at the GS-9 or GS-11 grade level. A Professional Standards Board of your peers will review your application, education, and experience to determine your grade level for appointment consideration.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) needs employees who possess the energy, compassion, and commitment to serve those who served our Country. Whatever the job title, every position in VA will give you a chance to make a meaningful and personal contribution to the lives of truly special and deserving people - our Veterans. Working for VA is one of the most emotionally satisfying and professionally rewarding ways to dedicate the best within you to your Country's service.
If you are transitioning from the military or a Veteran already, we invite you to explore the benefits of continuing your career at the VA. The VA is committed to hiring Veterans.
The VA is much more than just another employer. It is an honorable, open and welcoming community of those who care. Gratitude is our motivation and service is our mission.

Special Employment Consideration: VA encourages persons with disabilities to apply, including those eligible for hiring under 5 CFR 213.3102(u), Schedule A, Appointment of persons with disabilities [i.e., intellectual disabilities, severe physical disabilities, or psychiatric disabilities], and/or Disabled veterans with a compensable service-connected disability of 30% or more.

KEY REQUIREMENTS

U. S. Citizenship

Must pass pre-employment examination

English Language Proficiency required

Designated and-or Random Drug Testing required

Background and-or Security Investigation required

DUTIES:
The incumbent's primary work assignment will be in program areas providing outpatient care. The incumbent will provide social work services to Veterans, family members, and/or significant others. The social worker will provide services to identified veterans and/or significant others in outpatient program areas, including the development and completion of assigned social surveys. The focus of duties will include evaluation, treatment planning, direct services, education, and support of policies/procedures at the Beckley Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC).

The work activity is primarily sedentary in nature; personal interviews, consultation with other staff, phone calls, deskwork, etc. Some walking to other areas of the medical center is required to facilitate patient contact or pursue planned activities.

WORK SCHEDULE: Mon. - Fri. as determined by the supervisor

On-call psychiatric evaluations and consultative duties for veterans who present off-tours at the Emergency Department will be part of this position and scheduled on a rotational basis with existing psychiatric staff. Some or all of the above duties can be fulfilled via telemental health procedures and media, as well as through conference call consultation

QUALIFICATIONS REQUIRED:
1. COVERAGE. 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.

2. BASIC REQUIREMENTS. 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 if that social work degree meets the accreditation standards for a master 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 California, 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 California prerequisites for licensure.

(b) It is VHA policy that a VHA social worker 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.

(c) Different states have different levels of licensure or certification, making it difficult for VHA staff to determine the independent practice level.Each state, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia completed surveys identifying the level of licensure or certification allowing independent practice.

Copies of the surveys are on file in the Office of Social Work Service and a summary spreadsheet of the levels of licensure or certification is available to social work professional standards board members for purposes of determining whether the social worker’s level of licensure or certification meets the VHA qualification standards.

All states except California use a series of licensure exams administered by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB). The ASWB is the association of boards that regulate social work. ASWB develops and maintains the social work licensing examination used across the country and is a central resource for information on the legal regulation of social work. The ASWB offers three examinations. The master’s examination is generally used by states for the independent practice level of licensure or certification, while the advanced generalist and the clinical examinations are used for the advanced practice level of licensure or certification. Differences between the master’s and the advanced exams demonstrate the expectation that advanced practice social workers will have a more sophisticated knowledge of practice theory and its application.

(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.

d. Grandfathering Provision. The following is the standard grandfathering policy for all Title 38 hybrid qualification standards. Please carefully review the qualification standard to determine the specific education and/or licensure/certification/registration requirements that apply to this occupation.

(1) All persons employed in VHA in this occupation on the effective date of this qualification standard are considered to have met all qualification requirements for the title, series and grade held, including positive education and licensure or certification that are part of the basic requirements of the occupation. For employees who do not meet all the basic requirements in this standard, but who met the qualifications applicable to the position at the time they were appointed to it, the following provisions apply:
Such employees in an occupation that requires a licensure or certification, may be reassigned, promoted up to and including the full performance (journey) level, or changed to lower grade within the occupation, but may not be promoted beyond the journey level or placed in supervisory or managerial positions.

(2) Employees who are appointed on a temporary basis prior to the effective date of the qualification standard may not have their temporary appointment extended or be reappointed, on a temporary or permanent basis, until they fully meet the basic requirements of the standard.

(3) Employees initially grandfathered into this occupation, who subsequently obtain additional education and/or licensure/certification/registration that meet all the basic requirements of this qualification standard must maintain the required credentials as a condition of employment in the occupation.

(4) If an employee who was retained in an occupation listed in 38 U.S.C. 7401(3) under this provision leaves that occupation, the employee loses protected status and must meet the full VA qualification standard requirements in effect at the time of reentry to the occupation.

NOTE: If social workers covered under the grandfathering provision of the 1991 Federal law regarding licensure or certification of VHA social workers leave the GS-185 social work series, they lose the grandfathering protection. If they choose to return at a later date to the GS-185 series, they must be licensed or certified to qualify for employment as a social worker.

e. Physical Requirements. See VA Directive and Handbook 5019.

f. English Language Proficiency. Social workers must be proficient in spoken and written English in accordance with VA Handbook 5005, Part II, chapter 3, section A, paragraph 3j, this part.

3. GRADE REQUIREMENTS

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.

(1) GS-9 Social Worker

(a) 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) below.

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.

(2) GS-11 Social Worker

(a) 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.

OR,

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. In addition, the candidate must demonstrate the KSAs in subparagraph (b) below.

(b) Demonstrated Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities
1. Knowledge of community resources, how to make appropriate referrals to community and other governmental agencies for services, and ability to coordinate services.
2. Ability to independently 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, in collaboration with the patient, family and interdisciplinary treatment team.
3. Ability to independently conduct psychosocial assessments and 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.
4. Knowledge and experience in the use 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.
5. Knowledge of psychosocial treatment and ability to independently implement treatment modalities in working with individuals, families and groups who are experiencing a variety of psychiatric, medical and social problems to achieve treatment goals. This requires independent judgment and skill in utilizing supportive, problem solving or crisis intervention techniques.
6. Ability to independently provide counseling and/or psychotherapy services to individuals, groups and families. Social workers must practice within the bounds of their license or certification. For example, some states may require social workers providing psychotherapy to have a clinical level of licensure.
7. Ability to provide consultation services to other staff about the psychosocial needs of patients and the impact of psychosocial problems on health care and compliance with treatment. Ability to provide orientation and coaching to new social workers and social work graduate students. Ability to serve as a field instructor for social work graduate students who are completing VHA field placements.
8. Ability to independently evaluate his/her own practice through participation in professional peer review case conferences, research studies, or other organized means.
9. Knowledge and skill in the use of computer software applications for drafting documents, data management, and tracking, especially those programs in use by VHA.

(c) Assignments. This is the full performance level for social workers. GS-11 social workers are licensed or certified to independently practice social work. They are assigned to all program areas, including inpatient or outpatient medicine, surgery, mental health, neurology, rehabilitation medicine, and geriatrics. Employees provide professional, independent social work services in the assigned area.

IN DESCRIBING YOUR EXPERIENCE, PLEASE BE CLEAR AND SPECIFIC. WE MAY NOT MAKE ASSUMPTIONS REGARDING YOUR EXPERIENCE.

References: VA Handbook 5005/31, Part II, Appendix G39, SOCIAL WORKER QUALIFICATION STANDARD dated January 2010.

APPLICANTS PLEASE NOTE: Education must be accredited by an accrediting institution recognized by the U.S. Department of Education in order for it to be credited towards qualifications (particularly positions with a positive education requirement.) Therefore, applicants must report only attendance and/or degrees from schools accredited by accrediting institutions recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Applicants can verify accreditation at the following website: http://www.ed.gov/admins/finaid/accred/index.html All education claimed by applicants will be verified by the appointing agency accordingly. If you are using foreign education to meet qualification requirements, you must send a Certificate of Foreign Equivalency with your transcript in order to receive credit for that education.

Veterans' Preference:
When applying for Federal Jobs, eligible Veterans should claim preference on their application or résumé. Applicants claiming preference based on service-connected disability, or based on being the spouse or mother of a disabled or deceased Veteran, must complete an SF 15, Application for 10-Point Veteran Preference. Veterans who are still in the service may be granted tentative preference on the basis of information contained in their applications, but they must produce a DD Form 214 or other proof prior to appointment to document entitlement to preference. For more information on Veterans' Preference, please visit http://www.fedshirevets.gov/job/veterans.aspx .

HOW YOU WILL BE EVALUATED:
Your application, résumé and/or supporting documentation will be verified. Please follow all instructions carefully. Errors or omissions may affect consideration for employment. You may also be evaluated based upon the question responses you provide during a structured interview. In responding to structured interview questions you should be sure to cite specific examples of experience, explain exactly what you did, and the outcome.

BENEFITS:
Working for the Department of Veterans Affairs offers a comprehensive benefits package that includes, in part, paid vacation, sick leave, holidays, life insurance, health benefits, thrift savings plan, and participation in the Federal Employees Retirement System. In addition to traditional "dollars and cents" benefits, we offer a range of benefits to help balance work and life. For more information please visit us at http://www.va.gov/JOBS/Job_Benefits/benefits.asp .

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This job opportunity announcement may be used to fill additional vacancies.

OTHER INFORMATION:
This position is in the Excepted Service and does not confer competitive status.

Receiving Service Credit for Earning Annual (Vacation) Leave: Federal Employees earn annual leave at a rate (4, 6 or 8 hours per pay period) which is based on the number of years they have served as a Federal employee. VA may offer newly-appointed Federal employees credit for their job-related non-federal experience or active duty uniformed military service. This credited service can be used in determining the rate at which they earn annual leave.

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The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is a government-run military veteran benefit system with Cabinet-level status. It is...