How Interprofessional Collaboration Taught Me The Central Importance of Human Relationships


  • Florence Ellen Netting Professor Emerita Virginia Commonwealth University School of Social Work


The central importance of human relationships is a principle of the NASW Code of Ethics. Using organizational culture theory, this narrative focuses on how one social work educator learned lessons about this ethical principle in conducting research with colleagues from public health and veterinary medicine. This early collaboration set the stage for a career in which the central importance of human relationships permeated social work practice and education, regardless of the role being played. The author concludes that whether these relationships are developed through physical interactions or virtual exchanges, they are central to social work practice.

Keywords:  ethical principle, code of ethics, interdisciplinary, organizational culture, human-animal interaction

Author Biography

Florence Ellen Netting, Professor Emerita Virginia Commonwealth University School of Social Work

F.Ellen Netting is Professor Emerita in Social Work and the former Samuel S. Wurtzel EndowedChair at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) where she taught in the B.S.W.,M.S.W. and Ph.D. programs for 19 years, having previously taught 10 years atArizona State University. Her practice experience includes directing a county office on aging, directing a foster grandparent program, serving as the trainer for a 16 county area agency on aging, and consulting with numerous local and state health and human service organizations. She received her B.A. from Duke University, her M.S.S.W. from The University of Tennessee at Knoxville, and her Ph.D. from The University of Chicago. She is the co-author of eight, and co-editor of four books, and has published over 180 book chapters and refereed journal articles. She continues to collaborate on a leading textbook, Social Work Macro Practice, now in its fifth edition (2012) and used in 120 schools of social work throughout the UnitedStates. She received the VCU Distinguished Scholar Award in 1997; was elected to the National Academy of Social Work Practice as a Distinguished Scholar in 1998; and received The Recent Contributions to Scholarship Award at the Counci lon Social Work Education's Annual Program Meeting in 2005. Her scholarship has focused on health and human service delivery issues for frail elders, as well as nonprofit management and voluntarism, primarily in religiously affiliatedagencies. She was co-investigator for The John A. Hartford Foundation Primary CarePhysician Initiative, a national demonstration on primary care physician practice in geriatrics, in conjunction with an interdisciplinary team of researchers. She has served on the editorial boards of Nonprofit Management and Leadership, The Journal of Community Practice, The Journal of Applied Gerontology, The Journal of Gerontological Social Work, and The Journal of Religious Gerontology, is consulting editor for The Journal of Social Work Education and Social Work, and continues to review articles for numerous journals in the areas of social work, nonprofit management, and aging.




How to Cite

Netting, F. E. (2014). How Interprofessional Collaboration Taught Me The Central Importance of Human Relationships. Reflections: Narratives of Professional Helping, 19(4), 36–40. Retrieved from