Welcome to The New Social Worker's Blog

The New Social Worker is the quarterly magazine for social work students and recent graduates, focusing on social work careers for those new to the profession. This blog is a companion to the free online magazine at http://www.socialworker.com.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

What a difference a day can make...

Each time I get an e-mail response about your experiences and dreams, I get a rush of excitement. There seems to be so many opportunities for social workers: hospitals need us; schools want us; agencies rely upon our expertise; we can open our own private practice if we want! The possibilities are endless.

Today, at the magazine--my day job--two of my co-worker's positions were eliminated. Although I consider both to be my friends, one of my colleagues who was downsized is a close friend. I was driving back to the office after field practice when another co-worker called to tell me the news. It felt like my heart fell into my stomach!

I don't know why, but I thought we were immune to the effects of the economy. We have been on an uphill climb for the past five years and we were considered to be the golden child of our company. Things started to change last year when we were given more publications to produce. With just a few additions to the staff to pick up the added work, we all felt the pressure, but we all have such strong work ethics that we plugged away. Now with an economic downturn, our advertisers are understandably holding on to their dollars instead of spending them with us.

I pray that we can hang in there through these tough times. Our parent company is in the newspaper publishing business, an industry that is struggling greatly. The morale of our company is at an all-time low as entire departments are eliminated in what seems to be a moment's notice.

I am grateful for my job. I am incredibly thankful for the opportunity to work, and go to school and field practice. I feel humbled by this day's events and I am sending special prayers to my former colleagues. May they find an even better opportunity in the days to come.

--Ms. T. J.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Field Practice I

I just completed my second week of field practice. I have a very dedicated field instructor who keeps me at her side for the 5 hours I spend at her agency four days out of the week. She is making certain that I get a valuable experience.

I kidded her yesterday about how lucky she is to have me after we each performed, two, back-to-back biopsychosocial assessments. It really made me feel good to hear her speak about how draining it was for her, because, as they were my first two ever, I felt wiped out.

One of the clients asked me if I was a psychiatrist!

So far, in two weeks, I have seen and done more than I thought possible. My field instructor is one busy woman! Although I joked with her about how lucky she is to have me help her carry the load, what I know is that I am an addition to her workload. Because she has offerred to help me and my university with this field experience, she has more work to do.

So, I'd like to give a big "shout out" to all of you field instructors out there who give of yourselves so students like me can learn how to become social workers. My gratitude cup runneth over.

--Ms. T. J.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Ella Mae Johnson, 105-yr-old social worker, heads to Washington

Ella Mae Johnson, a 105-year-old retired social worker, traveled to Washington, DC to watch history being made as Barack Obama was sworn in as president today. Read about her at: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=99563301

How did you spend Inauguration Day? If you were there, please let us know your experiences/reactions!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Getting ready to do it all over again

As my first full week and very short "weekend" draws to a close, I am kind of dreading doing it all over again. Am I a weanie, or what?

Although I was in grad school all of last year, this semester kicks off a chapter in a book that seems tough to comprehend.

I know that worrying is not healthy for me. Yet I am worried. I wonder when I'll do my class work. When will I find time to study? Last year I could steal away during my lunch hours and after I had dinner with my husband. This semester I will be eating at my desk at the magazine -- both lunch and dinner, and I'll be getting home some nights after 9 p.m.

What I know, deep in my soul, is that I can do this. That doesn't mean it's going to be easy. And I can't do it perfectly. But I can do it.

I need to say that I have had some amazing moments in the field. I've sat in on therapy with two young children; I've written narrative summaries and "audited" charts; I've managed to be on time for everything which may be the biggest miracle of all! And, all of this while under the watchful, helpful eyes of my field instructor, a woman nearly 15 years younger than me whom I already respect tremendously.

I am so touched by the comments I am getting on this blog. Imagine you thanking me for blogging! I thank you for allowing me to rant and rave while I ride the roller coaster of graduate school. Your comments this past week have served as a buoy for my spirit when it felt like it was sinking.

I will watch for them in the coming week.

--Ms. T. J.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Day Three

I would be lying right now if I said I was not completely overwhelmed.

It's only day three. I need to give myself a break and repeat my mantra: "This is temporary .... this is temporary ... this is temporary."

I hate to sound like a big whiner. And I want to whine. In appropriate ways with appropriate people. Will you be my appropriate people for a moment?

Monday: I spent the morning at my regular/paying job (magazine), then headed over to the IOP from 12:30-5:30 p.m. Then I came back to the magazine to finish out my hours.

Tuesday: First day of classes. Our first prof never showed up so we got up at the crack of dawn to sit in a classroom from 8-9 a.m. The class schedules were rearranged before the day was done at 5 p.m.-ish.

My newest mantra: "I don't mind what happens."

Today: Started the day at TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families). In the early a.m. I was asked to watch the children for a moment while my field instructor had a very brief meeting with the social work aides. As I cradled one child in my arms, read a storybook to two 3-year-olds, all the while keeping my eye on a 4-month-old lying on a floor pad at my feet, I thought, "Who knew?"

So, as I settle back into my familiar magazine duties in the late afternoon, I am once again able to do some deep belly breathing.

This is temporary. I don't mind what happens.

--Ms. T. J.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

7 Days

In 7 days, President-Elect Barack Obama will be sworn in as President of the United States. What are your hopes for the new administration? What effects do you think our new president will have on social work, social workers, and social work clients? We would like to hear your comments. Also, if you are attending the inauguration, let us know about your experience.

NOTE: Your comments may appear in a future issue of The New Social Worker.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The New Social Worker magazine Winter 2009 edition available

The Winter 2009 edition of THE NEW SOCIAL WORKER is now available! In this issue, we introduce our new column, "An MSW Student's Life," written by T. J. If you have been reading this blog, you have already been introduced to T. J. Read her first official column in this issue, which you can download here free of charge in PDF format.

You can also read her article here.

In this issue, we bid farewell to Marshall Smith, who ends his 10-year tenure as our "Electronic Connection" columnist. Marshall has covered a wide variety of tech topics in the past 10 years, and I'd like to thank him for his many contributions to THE NEW SOCIAL WORKER.

Also, in this issue, we have the final installment of the "Creating YOUR Social Work Career" series by Amanda Vos and Lyndal Greenslade, of the Australian Association of Social Workers. Thank you, Amanda and Lyndal!

There's lots more in store for you in this issue, so please download it today!


Friday, January 9, 2009

Self Care

In three days it all begins. I'll be spending my days traveling back and forth from work to field practicum to school, and repeating.

I am grateful that I'll be getting out of my chair. I sit entirely too much as an editor. My hips are barking at me these days.

To thrive in the days to come, I am treating myself to regular holistic healing services like massage and, for the first time, a new treatment called "floating." I'd like to hear from you if you've ever experienced it.

It's described in a brochure as a pool that holds 10 inches of water with 800 pounds of dissolved Epsom salts, which supposedly enables a person to float effortlessly in a zero gravity environment.

These flotation spas were invented in 1954 by Dr. John Lilly. He discovered that "without visual, auditory or gravitational stimuli," many people are able to enter a heightened state of physical, mental and emotional awareness with deep relaxation.

It's supposed to be great for stress reduction, deep relaxation, and pain relief. Here is a link to a float center in South Carolina, just to provide more information for you: http://www.innervisionfloatcenter.com/

My appointment is Sunday morning, the day before I have to get back on track. Hopefully it will help me realize that I don't have to "board every train."

I will let you know if it floats my boat! (Sorry!)

--Ms. T. J.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Tale of My Drug Test

It makes sense that I should take a drug test before the agency lets me do my field practice at its out-patient and in-patient drug treatment facilities. I have no problem with it. Honestly.

My bladder, on the other hand, decided to become introverted when I went in to do the deal. For hours.

I arrived for my drug test at 2:30 p.m. Once I realized I was experiencing "shyness," I used every visualization and deep breathing technique I know of and, I have to admit, I prayed, too.

For the record, I never knew that I could drink so much water that it would make me feel sick. My jeans were tightening around my belly, too, which didn't help with the general feeling of unrest.

I walked and jogged around the building. I tried not to shame myself. I called my husband who could not believe it since the opposite of not being able to "go" is generally my issue. One of my girlfriends called while I was out walking and, after she had a good chuckle at my expense, she shared an experience of an unexpected drug test when she had similar difficulties. It made me feel a little better.

The technician, though kind, was not a big talker. She has a very important job; administering and policing drug testing for clients is serious business.

The bathroom itself is kind of intimidating. There are floor-to-mid-wall mirrors all around so I got a good look at myself -- several times. Then there's that little door above my head which opened to the technician's room.

She tried to help. She even closed the little door. Told me to run some water. Left the area.

At 3:45, I had to leave for a 4 p.m. appointment. I told the technician that I would return after 5 p.m. Lucky for me, the center was open until 7 p.m.

Once at my appointment, I explained my dilemma and we agreed that I would leave as soon as I had to "go." At five to five, I bolted, drove across town (again), and scurried into the center.

"Hosanna," I said when I had finally produced the "donation," as it is called.

Never a dull moment, this life of mine.

--Ms. T. J.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

$6 Million Social Worker

How did your last salary negotiation go? What if social workers were paid like rock stars or sports celebrities? Or, what if celebrities were paid like social workers?

Click the title above and let us know what you think.

Publisher/Editor, The New Social Worker

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Bring it on

As of today, I am on vacation until Jan. 12. YAHOO! I am so grateful for a break from both work and school.

On Jan 12, everything changes. I will begin working 30 hours, instead of 40, at the city magazine where I have been an editor for the last five and a half years. I will also begin my 20-hour per week field practicum at TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families). On Tuesdays, I will have four classes on campus. And somehow, in the remaining hours, I will study, do homework and try to carve out time for my husband, my dog and myself!

I am so grateful for the many helpful and supportive comments I've received from you, the readers of this blog. I hope you will continue to leave your thoughts and ideas for me and others to read. It's like a safety net for me. I especially like to hear how you did it and how you are continuing to plow through.

I am impressed and somewhat mystified when I read about those of you who, in addition to work and school, also have the responsibility of parenting. I don't know how you do it, and I tip my hat to you. Whenever I feel like whining in the weeks and months to come, I am going to think about you and know that I could have more to manage than I already do.

--Ms. T. J.