CoSW Spotlight: Janet Doss

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Following a nudge from her father, Janet Doss, BASW ‘81, switched from studying design to studying social work—and immediately knew this was her calling.

“Between the practicum experience—tutoring at a school for high-risk children four hours a week—and the professor’s enthusiasm, it really kind of drew me in,” Doss said of her time as a student at the University of Kentucky College of Social Work.

After graduating, Doss worked at an alternative school and in a nursing home before deciding to pursue a master’s degree in Louisville, where her husband was working. She specialized in mental health and continued her work with at risk children and adolescents in a role for Child Protective Services (CPS).

“That solidified for me my passion of advocating for children,” Doss said. “You see the worst of the worst in those situations. And it became really important to me—focusing my career on helping children.” Doss eventually became a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) and opened her own practice where she provided mental health services to children in need.

In 2004 she returned to the UK College of Social Work—this time as an instructor, leading child and adolescent treatment and practicum classes, and helping the next generation of social workers gain the skills to thrive in their chosen field. “I love working with the students, seeing all these fresh faces of people that have this passion about social work. That’s exciting. It kind of renews your own passion,” Doss said.

As for those who are considering a career in the field, Doss has some sage advice—born of her own lived experience as a social worker. “The positive thing about social work is it just opens so many doors. You might work in a hospital, you might work in Protective Services, you might work in a school, or even management. And I feel very blessed that I’ve been able to kind of tap into a lot of those different areas throughout my career,” Doss said.

For over 85 years, the College of Social Work (CoSW) at the University of Kentucky has been a leader in education. Our mission is clear: Through rigorous research, excellence in instruction, and steadfast service, the CoSW works to improve the human condition. Always, in all ways.

As the state’s flagship university, our mission is actualized through our deeds. Our faculty are renowned academicians dedicated to fostering the development of high-quality practitioners and researchers. As a college, we promote community and individual well-being through translational research and scholarship, exemplary teaching, and vital community engagement. We are committed to the people and social institutions throughout Kentucky, the nation, and the world.