Turnover in state hospital social workers

  • Carol S. Drolen
  • Charles R. Atherton


This study reaffirms the findings of the smaller initial study and adds two important new findings. First, in this state system, while social workers believe that they should be performing more therapy, they appear to be committed to humane care. The chronicity of patient illness did not appear to discourage them from this commitment.

Second, the problem in providing good patient care is that the state hospital has different expectations than those of the social workers. Emphasis on administrative tasks, oversupervision, focus on short-term patient care, were issues cited as hindrances to professional development. Social workers interviewed believe that these factors, among others, cause their colleagues to become frustrated and leave either for jobs that they feel will allow them more autonomy and professional discretion, or for private practice. In short, frustration with the bureaucracy appears to be responsible for the high turnover, and not the intent of social workers to use the state psychiatric hospital as a stepping stone to higher opportunities; nor is high turnover due to lack of support from longterm employees of the system.


Public Health Patient Care Professional Development Social Worker State System 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Javaratne, S., Siefert, K., & Chess, W.A. (1988). Private and agency practitioners: Some data and observationsSocial Service Review, 62, 325–335.Google Scholar
  2. Harrison, W. D. Drolen, C.S., & Atherton, C.R. (1989). Role discrepancies in state hospital social work.Social Casework, 70, 622–626.Google Scholar
  3. Rubin, A., & Johnson, P.J. (1984). Direct practice interests of entering MSW students.Journal of Education for Social Work, 20, 5–16.Google Scholar
  4. Rubin, A., Johnson, P.J., & De Weaver, K.L. (1986). Direct practice interests of MSW students: Changes from entry to graduation.Journal of Social Work Education, 22, 98–107.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carol S. Drolen
    • 1
  • Charles R. Atherton
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Social WorkUniv of AlabamaTuscaloosa

Personalised recommendations