Job Title: Social Worker
Type of Company: A large urban teaching hospital with world renowned status.
Education: BS, Public Health, University of Massachusetts MSW, Social Work, Boston University
Previous Experience: I started as a community case manager and then returned to school for my MSW to become a clinical social worker.
Job Tasks: I have been trained to complete an assessment on my patients in terms of their medical, social, financial, psychological and environmental well-being. I then forge a relationship with them in order to assist them in addressing problems that affect their health and well-being. I mostly work with urban teenagers who are facing unplanned pregnancies but I also work with Spanish-speaking women who have little in he way of family support and whose quest for a better life in the US has resulted in frustration. I work with women who have pregnancies with severe medical problems or with families that have lost their babies due to illness or premature birth. I am trained in substance abuse counseling, domestic violence counseling and and psychiatric assessment.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: I work too hard as I have to face many devastating situations where people are experiencing great pain and sorrow. I sometimes have to guard against getting too involved or too overwhelmed by the seriousness of the situation.
1. Be sure to learn all about yourself in order to be conscious of your own coping abilities, capacities and limits.
2. When setting out on your career be sure to develop a support network of people who are working in settings such as yours in order to have a place to discuss your experiences and not bring it home with you.
3. Enjoy the honor of being part of peoples lives at such a meaningful and opportunity-laden time.
Additional Thoughts: What has surprised me most about my job is that social work is so undervalued but so absolutely necessary. It is easy to recognize the contributions of a nurse or a respiratory therapist, but a social worker does a lot behind the scenes and our efforts are often overlooked. One pervasive misconception is that a social worker's primary job is to take kids away, when, on the contrary, we keep families together.
I wish I knew how to work a complicated institutional structure better and I wish I had learned more research strategies in order to explain and justify my work better.
The most important qualities for a social worker to possess are flexibility, humor, patience, generosity and hope. But the skills you'll need that are the least obvious are creative problem-solving and assertiveness.
If I were to be shadowed, the most salient impression my protege would take away from the experience would be my ability to think on my feet and work independently to address ever-changing and demanding circumstances.
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