NMHU cooperates with UNM School of Medicine

NMHU News:

The Native American Social Work Studies Institute (NASWSI) works in partnership with the University of New Mexico School of Medicine to provide social work students with an opportunity to develop case-testing skills in the treatment of intimate partner violence homicide.

The partnership with UNM focuses on Native American communities in New Mexico affected by intimate partner killings. While there are university programs dedicated to historical and anthropological perspectives on indigenous cultures, there are very few programs dedicated to the current needs of tribal communities. Programs like this are a way to strengthen the skills tribes need to exercise sovereignty and to address ongoing issues like missing and murdered tribal women.

according to dr Melissa Riley, director of NASWSI, “we don’t have many social workers in our tribal communities, so there are gaps in the field when it comes to tribal communities.”

NASWSI is supported by tribal ordinances of the All Pueblo of Council of Governors and the Navajo Nation, and receives funding from the New Mexico state legislature. The partnership between NASWSI and the UNM School of Medicine is a result of supporting state and tribal leaders to provide social work students with the education and training they need that will enhance their work in tribal communities.

“Our focus at NASWSI has been to develop research to inform social work practices, work on laws that benefit local children and families, and be able to provide courses and learning opportunities for social workers, social work students, and tribal communities” said Riley.

Riley has been a member of the New Mexico Intimate Partner Death Review Team for over a decade and brings her expertise in the homicide review process to the partnership with UNM.

“Again and again it’s clear from these meetings that we don’t have enough training and understanding to help professionals like social workers understand how to navigate a case, how to ask critical questions and how to make sure you’re with yourself Lane remains, particularly in the event of an investigation,” Riley said. “Some cases fell through the cracks because they were compromised by someone who didn’t follow the process.”

The partnership provides social work students with life skills aimed at improving intimate partner violence prevention and intervention services. While students attending case review sessions do not see real case reviews, the mock case files match the details of real case files she has reviewed in the past. The detailed case files provide competency-based activities for students to help them think critically about what a multidisciplinary approach to these cases might look like.

“This is something that students and the community will benefit from for years to come. I couldn’t have done it alone; I really needed the help and support of the UNM School of Medicine and they very graciously agreed to do so,” said Riley.

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