Award Date

May 2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Environmental and Public Affairs

First Committee Member

Cecilia Maldonado

Second Committee Member

Harriet Barlow

Third Committee Member

Marya Shegog

Fourth Committee Member

Sandra Owens

Number of Pages



Job competencies are central to every organization’ s human resource management system. Competencies can be used to help organizations create high performance cultures, select and hire a workforce, develop leaders, and establish a foundation for training strategies. Social work, as a profession, has developed competency models for many specialized fields of social work. Health is the second most common practice area reported by social workers with a master’ s degree in social work, the predominant social work degree for licensed social workers. In highly structured, rapidly evolving, and complex organizations such as healthcare systems, leaders and managers require distinctively different skills and competencies than do those in other settings. Although social work administration permeates all areas of social work practice, there is only a small body of research that elaborates on the various activities, skills, and competencies that social work managers need to do their work in healthcare. The problem that this study addresses is that to date, research has not presented a competency model for 21stcentury healthcare social work administrators. The purpose of this study was to identify the job competencies that exemplary healthcare social work administrators demonstrate in effort to provide a foundation for a competency model. Through the application of the short competency model process and qualitative research methods, this study answers a central research question: What job competencies do exemplary healthcare social work administrators demonstrate? The participants selected for this study were subject matter experts and exemplary performers in the field of healthcare social work administration. Semi-structured interviews rendered data from which to analyze the opinions of six experts and the experiences of eight exemplary performers. A thematic analysis of the interview data revealed nine competencies for healthcare social work administrators: (a) achievement orientation, (b) concern for order, quality, and accuracy, (c) initiative, (d) impact and influence, (e) directiveness, (f) teamwork and cooperation, (g) team leadership, (h) self-confidence, and (i) flexibility.Results from this study have implications for healthcareorganizations, social work education, and the professional development of healthcare social workers and administrators.These competencies make it possible for organizations to build a competency model with utilization for every human resource development process from hiring and selection to succession planning.


Competencies; Healthcare Administrators; Medical Social Work; Social Work Directors; Social Work Workforce


Health and Medical Administration | Social Work

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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