Paula Nieman has developed a broad range of research interests after engaging in many years of direct social work practice and teaching in a BSW program for over a decade. Paula is deeply committed to her students’ professional development, to the clients they serve, and to the future of the social work profession. She is currently engaged in scholarship about what it means to “be” a social worker, and to “do” social work. Informed by historic and contemporary debates within the profession about its mission and purpose, she seeks to better understand the processes by which a person “becomes” a social worker, especially during the transition from formal social work education to professional practice. Paula’s current research uses critical phenomenology to explore the lived experiences of early-career baccalaureate social work practitioners in Massachusetts. She seeks to identify and critique the historical, social, political, and economic forces that shape social workers’ lived experiences and sense of professional identity.
Paula serves as the Coordinator of Field Instruction in the social work department at Western New England University.