Publication date: Aug 30, 2023
The social work profession is dealing with an increased rate of turnover, due largely in part to the pandemic. A recent study showed that U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) inpatient social workers utilized strategies of “emotional preparedness” to retain their job during the pandemic. The aim of this current study is to explore if outpatient social workers utilized similar strategies for their own job retention. There may be differences in the strategies utilized because outpatient and inpatient social workers tend to work in different environments. In this qualitative study, authors conducted interviews with (N = 13) outpatient social workers from a VA site in the Southwestern region of the United States. Findings were analyzed thematically. Authors conducted open coding and applied a priori themes/strategies from extant research among VA inpatient social workers. Most of the a priori themes/strategies were prevalent among outpatient social workers, and two emerging themes were (1) acknowledging shared trauma and (2) human connection to overcome isolation. Strategies of emotional preparedness should be implemented on a grander scale to facilitate job retention since there is an expected deficit in the social work workforce until at least 2030.