Never Say Never – My Career as a Medical Social Worker

It’s interesting to note the twist and turns of our lives and our careers of which we spend most of our waking hours. While attending undergrad school I was asked by several people if I thought about studying nursing or social work. I wasn’t interested in either as I was hoping to go into educational counseling. I got my BA in Communications in case I didn’t get into graduate school and I thought that would be a better degree to get a job than a psychology or behavior health degree.

Social Workers Get a Bad Rap

On one occasion when yet another person suggested I study social work, I said to myself, “Why would I want to be a stupid social worker?” My mother was very ill during my senior year of college and I remember sitting on the side of her bed, having experienced several months in hospitals, rehab, home health and emergency rooms and many social workers.

Ironically it was one of my mom’s worse social worker who propelled me to even think about becoming one of “them”. My mom had about five different social workers (over a period of five months and four different institutions,) and the one before the “bad” one was awesome. I thought to myself, what a difference that one social worker made and how much of a help she was in one of the most difficult times of my mom’s life and mine.

It was at this time I thought if I were to study social work, If I could make one positive impact to try to counter all of the bad social workers, then maybe it would be worth it. I thought who better to help then someone who had been in their shoes. I knew what it was like to be stressed to the point of exhaustion and yet still be expected to talk about death and finances. I wanted to be a social worker that could help instead of making things harder. It was then that I decided I would apply to the school of social work.

Finding My Niche as a Home Health Medical Social Worker

While I was in grad school I remember begin asked what I wanted to study and what I didn’t. I knew I didn’t want to be in a hospital so medical social work was out. I knew I didn’t want to do mental health so I concentrated on children and families. Well, never say never. My first job was for the state in the child protection services department, a very difficult place to be with a high turnover. I then went on to work for the Dept. of Health’s Child and Adolescent Mental Health and from there through a string of former classmates began my career as a Home Health Medical Social Worker.

Working as a Team – Medical Excellence

I loved being in Home Health. Although it was connected to the hospital, I was rarely in the building as the patients were in their homes and I enjoyed being outdoors. I was able to see where people lived and how they lived in order to give them the best care which was usually for them to remain in their homes.

In addition to doing Home Health, I also worked in palliative care and Hospice at home. I was blessed to work with the best interdisciplinary teams in the state. Working in the home health arena allowed me to experience true excellence for patients. I was able to work side-by-side with doctors, nurses, physical and speech therapists and Home Health aides; all in the best interest of the patient. It takes a special breed of people to work in Home Health and I was privileged to have had the experience and to learn from each one of them.

Personal Sabbatical

After about 12 years of social work, the majority of that time as a Medical Social Worker, I took a break and then went back part time for another couple of years. Presently, I’m what I call on a personal sabbatical for more than two years now.

Having moved to another state and needing to go through an expensive and time consuming process to get licensed again, I decided to take a break indefinitely. I will always be a social worker; it’s how my brain functions. I’m always assessing, analyzing, problem solving, trying to fit a square block in a circular hole – creatively, without breaking it; that was sort of what social work was like, and I loved the challenge.

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