March is officially national social work month so happy social work month and a million thanks to all my fellow social workers!!
In honor of social work month I thought I would take some time to describe to you what I actually do besides promise people I’m not going to take their kids away from there home.
My full time job is leading a new patient centered care program at the Brigham & Women’s Crohn’s and Colitis Center and am the center’s social worker. Here, I see people in a variety of ways. Some patients I see weekly, others I see when they are in for clinic appointments, and some I meet while they are in the hospital/having surgery. We know that there is a huge emotional component linked to chronic illness and that there is so much more that is affected besides the body. In addition IBD is not an illness that is talked about and many of the symptoms can be embarrassing for patients. In this capacity I help people deal with how their illness affects their everyday life, family dynamics, relationships, schools, work etc. I also help people navigate the medical system and advocate for themselves through these difficult times.
Part of the novelty of our center is that we have an amazing team based approach to medical care. We have various disciplines (nutrition, nursing, social work, psychiatry, mind-body) who specialize in IBD and see patients right in our center so that there is no outside referral needed. We also believe in individual treatment plans so each patient gets exposure to all disciplines but only sees who they feel would be helpful to their care (or who their team feels would be helpful). As a social worker I help facilitate communication between providers and between patients and providers if needed. I am so lucky to work with amazing people who all believe that patient care is the number one goal.
I also work per diem for the Boston Emergency Service Team as a crisis clinician. The BEST team provides 24-hour response to adults and youth in need of crisis intervention for mental health and substance use concerns. Mobile crisis clinicians respond to cases in hospitals, homes, schools, outpatient clinics and many other community locations. Where my job at Brigham is more medical social work this position is more psych social work. This position also has clinicians provide one time crisis intervention so there is no real follow up. At the start of a shift you really have no idea what you will see or where you will be going. It is an amazing way to keep up crisis management skills as well as make some extra money to supplement the salary of a social worker 🙂 I work 1-2 night shifts a week and some weekends if I have a reason to pick up extra shifts (Chloe was purchased with many weekend shifts this past winter).
For the most part I love my jobs and the people I work with. It is a very rewarding job and continues to challenge me each and every day. While is can sometimes be a frustrating experience, I love to help people achieve things they didn’t think were possible. It can sometimes feel like you aren’t doing enough but I have learned that people need to WANT to change and need to be READY for change and that sometimes the only thing I can do is sit and listen.
My biggest reward is when people no longer need to see me anymore (although I LOVE when people continue to stay in touch). I truly believe that everyone can benefit from having someone to talk to during difficult periods in life and it helps to have established care instead of meeting someone during crisis mode.
My final job doesn’t have anything to do with social work but is a result of saying yes at a CCFA’s YP Night in White Night after a few to many glasses of wine at the open bar 🙂 I am currently on my 8th or 9th season as New England’s Team Challenge running coach. As part of this job I help people on a 16 week adventure to walk or run a half marathon/marathon while raising money for charity. This position is one that has changed my life, the way I care for patients and families, and the way I look at running. It is also the reason I am embarking on the Chattanooga Ironman while raising money for CCFA (and no I wasn’t at another event with another open bar).
If you know one go out and hug a social worker today! And in addition to a hug I will gladly take a donation to my fundraising (link below) and getting one step closer to finding a cure!