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, April 29, 2010

Field Instructor Luncheon

TODAY WE SAID THANK YOU to our field instructors. These are the men and women who took us under their wings at our internships. They plotted our journey and guided us along the way all these days and months while we learned how to work in the field of social work.

We treated them to a delicious lunch of chicken, fish, greens, macaroni and cheese, chocolate cake and peach cobbler. We said nice things to and about them. We gave them presents and hugs. We recited poems and letters. And some of us cried.

Here is what I wrote and read to my field instructor (FYI: the references to the peach are because whenever you ask her how she is she always replies, "Just peachy!")

Thank You, _____!
You are a real

Thank you for Thursday mornings at 9-ish (supervision)
Thank you for listening
Thank you for teaching
Thank you for NOT candy-coating the realities of the job
Thank you for noticing when I needed to talk
Thank you for the feedback and the praise
Thank you for working in the solution and not the problem — and we all know there are plenty of challenges
Thank you for being so easy to talk to and even easier to trust
Thank you for telling it like it is, with your cup always half-full
Thank you for modeling the behavior that I want to emulate
Most of all thank you for being real and for letting me know that life at the agency can be PEACHY!

With great appreciation and respect,
Ms. T. J., M.S.W. Candidate


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The FINAL final

THIS IS IT. The end of this adventure. My last final exam ever in grad school. Can I just say my will to study has left me. I'm all set up: I've got the flashcards and books in front of me. The flashcards are empty. The books are closed.

I need to study, but my mind and body are rebelling. School's out, and the internship is over. Why should I have to study for a dang test?

So, I'll post on my blog instead.

Someone asked what was the hardest part of graduate school. I should have told them to read my posts. It's all right here: the triumphs, the tough times, the days I wanted to give up, and the events that made it all worthwhile.

So, send me your best study energy, or give me a hard time about being slack at the very end. Let me know you are out there--doing this deal, or thinking about it. That way I can read your comments and NOT study some more!

~Ms. T. J. (who is going to start right now!)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Last Day of Classes!

I HAVE BEGUN several posts this week and fatigue would hit me half-way through, and I'd stop writing. There are unfinished drafts about my last day at field practicum (Wednesday), when I finished my last presentation for today, and all the feelings that I was having during this week.

Even if this post makes no sense at all, I am going to finish it! I am operating on very little sleep (four hours to be exact!).

Today was our last day of classes. No more pencils, no more books... I don't think it has sunk in. I've had several surges of joy, and yet the reality of all of this is just not tangible at this moment.

I have one final exam on Thursday, and I plan to complete all my field journals by then, too. We have a field instructor's luncheon on campus that day, and I'll be taking the test, and handing in my final journals after the event.

I am really tired so I am going to quit typing. It was important to jot this down on the day it happened!

Ms. T. J.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

What's left to do...

ONE MORE WEEK OF CLASSES and 14 hours of my internship. I've got my two biggest papers behind me. What's left for school: A PowerPoint/poster presentation for Clinical II, my field journals, a short paper about the field experience; and one final written exam.

What's left outside of school: my agency exam (4-30); and the LMSW exam (I will be compiling my packet and calling to register within the next week or so).

Think I'll finish the PowerPoint today, work on the rest of the agency modules, and take a day at the beach tomorrow. Then I'll finish up my internship (move into my new office) by Wednesday, and spend Thursday finishing up the field journals and paper.

I'll attend a class on Friday, and two on Saturday (including Clinical II, where I'll present my PowerPoint). Then no more classes, no more books (honestly I've already shelved most of my books!)....

We have a field instructor luncheon April 29. Our University is providing two LMSW prep classes (which is awesome!) and we had the first one yesterday. The second class is May 1.

I am happy to report that it feels really manageable. I hope you are in a manageable place, too.

~Ms. T. J.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Saw My New Office Today

IT'S OFFICIAL. I saw it with my own two eyeballs. The memo that said I was hired, the department where I will be working, the floor I'll be on, and my office number. So I took the elevator up to the fifth floor and took a peek at my new digs. I am in an interior office; no windows. Call me zany, but I have had three offices and two cubicles here, and the interior offices felt cozier to me. I usually closed the blinds, anyway, to better see my computer when I was in the offices with windows.

Glass half full? Yup.

Am I nervous? Yup. Am I excited? Yup. Do I have any regrets? Nope.

My last day of the internship is April 21; the last day of class is April 24. I will have a work exam and a final exam the last week in April. Graduation is May 8. I will start my job May 17. I will have a good bit of "me time" until then--so I can unwind.

It's official...

~Ms. T. J.

Monday, April 12, 2010

I Can Do This

I AM SO CLOSE TO FINISHING ALL OF MY ASSIGNMENTS. And this week is testing me a little. Well, maybe more than a little. I have two papers--BIG ones ... and I am in a migraine cycle. Yup. It really sucks. Plus, my husband flew to New Orleans this morning--at 5:30 a.m. Yup; I was his 3:30 a.m. driver.

So, I think I will count my blessings to try to gain perspective:
  • The house is quiet--just me and the dog. Not that my husband makes a lot of racket, but I am looking for a silver lining here.

  • I was given a reprieve on a BIG exam for my new job. I asked if I could take it later, after graduation, yet before I start the job--and they said yes. (If you don't ask, the answer will always be "No.")

  • I get the bed to myself which will be helpful with the headache. I could always sleep in the guest room if my husband was home, and again, looking for the gratitude...

  • I have field practicum, and it's NOT a job, yet, so if I go home early, or call in sick for that matter, I am not letting any clients down.

  • I am making progress on my papers. Migraines don't help with concentration or focus, but it could be worse; I could be in the fetal position.

  • My prof would probably give me a break if I need one; I have never asked for one, so if worse came to worse, he might be understanding.

  • I am able to see, hear, walk, talk, taste and smell ... and for these gifts, I am eternally thankful.

~Ms. T. J.

Google and Facebook raise new issues for therapists and their clients

Interesting article in the Washington Post titled "Google and Facebook raise new issues for therapists and their clients."  Here's an excerpt:

In fact, the tremendous availability online of personal information threatens to alter what has been an almost sacred relationship between therapist and patient. Traditionally, therapists obtained information about a patient through face-to-face dialogue. If outside information was needed, the therapist would obtain the patient's consent to speak with family members or a previous mental-health practitioner. At the same time, patients traditionally knew little about their therapists outside the consulting room. Now, with the click of a mouse, tech-savvy therapists and patients are challenging the old rules and raising serious questions about how much each should know about the other and where lines should be drawn.

Among the questions under debate:
  • Should a therapist review the Web site of a patient or conduct an online search without that patient's consent?
  • Is it appropriate for a therapist to put personal details about himself on a blog or Web site or to join Facebook or other social networks?
  • What are the risks of having patients and therapists interact online?
Read the whole article here.  Would love to hear your thoughts on this!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Pure Clover Honey and Tulsi Tea


I was at my internship and I was thinking "I have to know everything about everything (adoption and initial placement)," and I could hardly breathe, and I was trying to finish my training modules, and I was worried because I couldn't find my mentor, and I wasn't hungry, and I was famished, and I was irritable.

Then at dinner with my husband I ran into my Title IV-E coordinator who told me the exam for training would be next week (ACK!), and I felt like I was over-eating, and the restaurant was noisy, and my sweet husband was patient, and he told me I looked wonderful.

We went to a favorite store, and found the outdoor chairs we've been seeking for our "shelter house" he built in the backyard, and there were so many beautiful seat cushions, and we learned that there would be a 25 per cent off sale on Thursday, and we were excited.

We came home, and I brewed myself a cup of Tulsi tea (red mango, caffeine free, organic, abundant in rooibos and antioxidants). It is called the "Queen of Herbs" --revered throughout India as sacred, and infused with healing power that "relieves the body's negative reaction to stress."

I added pure clover honey (straight from the honey bear) and suddenly I feel better! I worked on my family intervention analysis paper and I really think the tea helped me...

These are the days
~Ms. T. J.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Big Overwhelm


So here it is--32 days from graduation (May 8), 20 days left of the semester (April 24), and three weekends of classes to attend. I have three papers, a journal assignment and a final exam to complete and then I will be finished. In addition to that, I will complete several modules for the child welfare agency that I am currently interning with, and will be employed by(!) on May 17. On the very top of all of this (right beside the cherry), I want to study for the Master's Exam.

{insert silent scream here}

I am writing this post for two reasons: 1.) to release tension, and 2.) to help another student who might be out there feeling overwhelmed, too.

These are the days we will probably not remember in the days, months, and years to come. Like my Dad used to say about stuff that was troubling me when I was just a child: "You'll forget all about this by the time you get married." Back then it was a skinned knee or a lost toy; today it's a Master's degree. Go figure!

A quote from a meditation book I keep close at hand states:

On accepting your path through life:

Your way is decided
There is nothing you will not be told,
if you acknowledge this.

So be it.

~Ms. T. J.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Homework Countdown

ONE FAMILY INTERVENTION ANALYSIS (due date April 10). One Clinical II final exam paper (due date April 16). Part three of the integrative seminar paper (due date April 17). Field practice journals (due date April 24). One final exam (test date April 24 0r May 1).

Can I say Senior-itis? UGH! I am going to finish them in order of their due dates. It feels a bit overwhelming tonight, but I am going to pick away at them in the days to come until they are completed. If I could offer any advice to new students, it would be to do things in order, on a schedule, unless you just want to do something first to get it off your plate. I find that it is less stressful if I just do things in the order they are due; that way I get assignments in on time.

A few weeks ago, right after mid-terms, we had two big papers due. It was maddening. That week, for me, was tougher than the actual mid-term week. I stayed with it, though, and I ended up getting an A on a really tough project. Our professor commented that we were getting tired. It was true. I was exhausted! But I stayed the course, and finished everything in good time. I pulled an all-nighter; it was the second one in the two-and-a-half years I've been in school.

Right now, I am working on the Family Intervention Analysis paper. It's a doozy! The class is a doctorate level course; it's a terrible thing to do to an MSW student during the last semester.

Good luck to you as we head into the end of the semester. If you are getting ready to graduate, hang in there! You can do it.

~Ms. T. J.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Got the call; Got the offer; God is good.


The polished HR professional called to make an offer. I let him tell me all about it and "sell me" a little. I listened as he talked salary, and hire date, and orientation. He explained the job and the fast-track possibilities and the benefits. I asked questions and had him repeat some information so I could write it all down.

And then, I accepted the offer.

Wow. It's still 36 days from graduation and I have a job. While many folks are unemployed, I will soon have a new career (and a paycheck). Do I feel grateful? You bet I do.

For all of you soon-to-be or wanna-be Social Workers, let this be a beacon of hope for you. Getting your B.S.W. or M.S.W. is worth it! There are jobs out there. For YOU! If you decide to "do the deal," go the extra mile, work like you mean it, and love what you are working toward, you will find a place to begin your career. The world needs us--more than ever!

I was awarded the Title-IV-E grant from the state at the onset of my MSW education, but that did not guarantee that I would be hired. Yes, the state hopes they will hire us as we are an "investment" for them. But I have heard of many Title IV-E grant recipients who did not get hired. We are thrown into the applicant pool like every other person--and it's competitive.

As I get ready to settle in for the night after a celebratory dinner with my husband, I am counting my blessings. I am also grateful for what I have brought to the table these past days, months, and years. I have been a dedicated student, a diligent worker at my internship, and a good person. I don't take the credit, however. I know that I was created by a Higher Power, and that Source has guided me every step of the way.

~Ms. T. J.