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Tips for New Social Work Graduate (MSW) Students

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Happy start of the school year! Perusing social media, I came across a NASW blog article called “Guide for the First Year Social Work Student”. This post provided lots of great information tailored for new undergraduate students interested in studying social work.
I wanted to take that NASW post a bit farther and compile a list of tips specific to graduate students pursuing a masters in social work (MSW). In my opinion, graduate school is a completely different experience from undergraduate, so my hope is that these tips will serve to be beneficial.
Tips for New Social Work Graduate (MSW) Students
-Don’t worry about grades so muchWhen I was in graduate school, one of my professors told a story about a straight A student who committed suicide several years after graduation. His point was that given the people we need to work with, we social workers need to focus less on being perfectionists (as demonstrated by obsessing over grades and test scores) and work on being empathetic and compete…

Why I Want To Leave Social Work

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It's been a while since I've updated this blog. I actually wasn't sure if I would actually come back to it, but given recent events I have some free time on my hands and should keep occupied. With that said, let's cut to the chase.
I'm burned out. After 10 years of being a social worker, I'm ready to leave the field. A few of the reasons are as follows: 
1) Emotional and physical exhaustion As we all know, social work is an extremely demanding job with high caseloads, emotionally taxing situations, and strict deadlines. Depending on how busy I am and how much caffeine I've had, I'm usually running on high alert so I could finish everything by the end of my shift and sit in traffic. Being in a continual state of stress has started wearing on me, and I find that as I age I'm not as physically and emotionally resilient as I used to be.  
The social work profession promotes self-care as a way to prevent burnout. This is nice and all, but how can you take …

My Social Work Values

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I originally wrote this short post regarding my social work values several years ago but never published it. I'm publishing it now to remind myself that despite how burned out I feel, I am and will fundamentally always be a social worker at heart.


Sometimes, I feel so burned out by my job that I can't help but feel apathy about my patients and the social issues affecting society. During these times, I wonder if I still have the social worker mindset and belong in the social worker profession. Then, I interact with the people around me and am starkly reminded that deep down, I'm still a social worker. If you feel infuriated by any of the following, then you probably are too!

Retelling a story about a patient and having the first response be, "That person was black, right?"  Being told that mental illness is "just in someone's head" and that they simply need to "snap out of it". Being told that people who attempt/commit suicide are "b…

Inpatient vs. Outpatient Status: How It Can Bankrupt You

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This post is about hospital Inpatient versus Outpatient Status, the difference between the two, and how being categorized as one over the other can result in costly medical expenses. While this content pertains mostly to individuals on Medicare, I feel everyone should know this information in the event they or a loved one are hospitalized.

Inpatient vs. Outpatient Status: How it Can Bankrupt You One of my least favorite parts of being a hospital social worker is being the bearer of bad news. On a typical day, I'll have numerous conversations with patients telling them that their equipment, transportation, and/or post-hospital care is not covered by their insurance. Telling patients that they're liable for up to thousands of dollars in medical expenses is not exactly what I had in mind when I became a social worker.

When it comes to talking to patients about what's not covered, the most infuriating and confusing expenses often stem from whether a patient was admitted to th…

Hospice: 10 Things Patients and Families Need to Know

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Hospice is a care philosophy that focuses on maximizing the quality of life as opposed to the quantity of life. Hospice may include services such as medication/pain management, medical care, spiritual care, and social services. 
As a medical social worker, my job is to handle all aspects of hospice discharge planning. This includes connecting patients to a hospice agency, ordering equipment, providing resources on care facilities (i.e. board and cares, assisted livings, non-medical custodial nursing homes), and arranging transportation for hospital discharge. Additionally, I provide support to patients and family members during an stressful and emotionally draining process.
What's not publicly discussed about the hospice process is the immense pressure put on hospital employees to discharge patients quickly and efficiently. Insurance companies only pay if hospitals can medically justify a patient's stay. Once a patient goes on hospice, there is no reason for that person to be …

Pinterest Group Board for Social Work Bloggers

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Recently, I learned of Pinterest Group Boards and how they allow for communities of like-minded people to share pins with one another. Given the lack of places where social workers can gather to share their blog posts, I've decided to go ahead and start a Pinterest Group Board specifically for social work bloggers: Social Work Bloggers
To be added to this group, you'll need a Pinterest account and I'll need to know your pinterest name. You can either post it here, DM it to me on twitter (@CheapMSW), or email me at cheapsocialworker@gmail.com.
There are so many talented people in our profession. My hope is for this group to grow and become a centralized place where social workers and anyone interested in social work can share and learn from each another.

Racial Profiling of Patients By Healthcare Providers

I hate having to write yet another post on discrimination against patient by healthcare providers, but I think it's important.

Recently, I was called to investigate an abuse incident. The only evidence based on chart review and talking to the staff was "the nurse heard the family member yelling at the patient". As a result, this family member was essentially banned from seeing the patient, who was confused at the time.

To avoid violating HIPAA, here is a super abridged version of what happened next:
-The family member returned to the hospital asking for the patient's location and an explanation for the ban. I received a phone call from the nurses station, claiming that the family member was on the verge of aggression.
-I was with the family member in minutes, and the person was completely appropriate with me. The family member acknowledged speaking loudly due to the patient's confused behavior and seemed apologetic. The explanation was sound, and added details no…