Hospice: 10 Things Patients and Families Need to Know

Hospice is a care philosophy that focuses on maximizing the quality of life as opposed to the quantity of life. Hospice may incl...

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Giving Tree

Earlier this evening, my boyfriend (who is close to finishing his last quarter of graduate school) mentioned that he felt like the old man pictured on the last page of The Giving Tree. Not being able to recall this book from my childhood, I went ahead an looked up the Wikipedia article. The plot description nearly brought me to tears. Watching the following video all but pushed me over the edge:

In fact, I could only watch portions of it because seeing the story unfold through animation was just so depressing.

I suppose what saddened me most about this story were the sacrifices made by both the tree and the boy. In order to make the boy happy, the tree gradually allowed parts of her to be removed to be sold or constructed into a house and boat. The tree gave freely, while the boy simply took and took in return. Ultimately, only the tree's stump was left.

The boy, on the other hand, sacrificed his carefree childhood spent with the tree to fulfill "adult" tasks such as working, making profit, and accumulating and maintaining assets (such as the house). Despite this, he still found life unsatisfying and used the tree's trunk in an attempt to escape. In the end, the boy, now an old man with simpler needs, found comfort sitting on top of what was left of his lifelong friend.

I suppose The Giving Tree tells two stories here. One is about unconditional self-sacrifice due to love. The other is a lament for a simple and carefree childhood lost to the adult world of endless responsibilities. Both stories resonate pretty equally with me. Having been with my boyfriend for almost two years, I know I would probably make the same sacrifices the tree made for the boy in a heartbeat. Now that I'm done with school and work, I sometimes long for those childhood days that seemed free from care and worry. With the work I do with the elderly in the hospital, I can't help but sometimes feel like I'm aging at an accelerated rate.

Before going to bed, my boyfriend told me that rereading The Giving Tree helped him put things into perspective. Indeed, this story has given me new insight into the meaning of unconditional personal sacrifice and reminded me of the joys of a carefree life. These are definitely important lessons I intend to incorporate into my own daily living in an attempt to decelerate my self-perceived aging!

I'm not scheduled to work tomorrow. Perhaps I'll look for something cheery to do during the day.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

New Look

I spent the majority of today messing around with Blogger's different templates. As much as I enjoyed the polka dots, I feel that the new templates give my blogs a cleaner and fresher look. Maybe someday I'll learn CSS and design something really awesome involving polka dots.

I have work tomorrow, so that means I should probably go to bed early instead of playing around with my blogs. In the meantime, check out my latest article on my Cheap Social Worker blog, which gives advice on balancing becoming a social worker career with addressing financial wants and needs. Have a great evening everyone!

Balancing Financial Needs With Becoming a Social Worker

Let me preface this article by stating that no one goes into social work thinking that they will become rich. Similarly, no one becomes a social worker thinking that they will have to struggle financially for the duration of their careers. There must be a balance between doing what one loves and having the money to pay the bills, feed the family, and engage in some quality self-care. While many social workers live within their means and are happy with their lifestyles, there are some that ultimately burn out and switch careers to earn better wages. This article provides advice on how one can balance becoming a social worker with wanting a higher standard of living. I'm sure some of these tips could be extrapolated towards other careers as well.

Tip #1: Evaluate the standard of life that you hope to have. There's nothing wrong with wanting a big house, luxury car, fancy wardrobe, private jet, and vacation house in the South of France. However, if you're expecting to fulfill all of these dreams on a social worker salary, then you may want to reevaluate your college major and career aspirations. Please read my article on why certain majors are more profitable than others.

Tip #2: Get your degree from a public school (unless you're offered a generous scholarship to a private school). I obtained my masters degree from a state university. Currently, the only difference between me and my co-workers who attended private schools is the amount of debt we have to repay. Given an average social worker's salary, it just seems unwise to spend $50,000 a year to get a bachelors or masters degree. Even if a more prestigious school were to offer a slightly better education than a state university, I don't think it's worth having to repay student loans until I qualify for Medicare. Those hundreds of dollars a month could be better used on a car, house down payment, or vacation in the South of France.

Tip #3: Get paid to receive your degree. There are several ways to accomplish this. One way is to work for an employer that will pay for you to go back to school for a degree. Another way is to choose paid internships while in school to offset tuition costs. Additionally, scholarships and grants are a great way to lower education costs. In California, the Title IV-E offers generous stipends in exchange for two years work at a child welfare agency upon graduation.

Tip #4: Target higher paying social work jobs in government or the medical setting. These jobs typically pay significantly higher salaries than positions at smaller non-profit agencies. If you have a social work license and enjoy counseling, consider opening a private practice.  However, if you happen to enjoy your current setting then by all means stay.  The happiness and quality of life brought from working somewhere you love simply can't be purchased with a higher salary.

Tip #5: Obtain your social work license. Not only will you be able to privately practice therapy, you will open the doors to a number of new social work positions which require licensure, hence increasing your income potential.

As stated above, if you are hoping to become exceedingly wealthy as a social worker, then you might want to consider changing your career for your sake and the sake of your clients. For everyone else, it is more than possible to have a rewarding and financially stable career as a social worker with some careful financial planning. I suppose part of the beauty of my field is that I get paid for following one of my passions in life, and I consider myself lucky in that respect.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Yet another new beginning...

Hello, and welcome to Adventures of a (not so) Cheap Social Worker! Here, you'll find me talking about my life as a social worker, ranging from daily happenings to discussions pertaining to relevant social work issues to other random topics. I have a wide variety of interests and hobbies in addition to what I do for a living, so expect anything and everything on this blog!

This blog is an off-shoot from my main site, (not so) Cheap Social Worker. Since I wanted to limit the scope of that site to money saving matters, this blog was created and all non-pertinent articles were moved here. Don't forget to check out my other blog and read about my adventures in making the most out of my social worker salary!

I am pretty excited about this site and will make it a goal to post regular updates. Thanks for stopping by, and I hope to have more material soon!

Recent changes to this blog

Lately, I've been thinking about the scope of this blog. While I enjoy writing about money saving tips and social work issues, I feel that having both topics on the same blog may be a little too much. Hence, I've decided to divide my writing into two different blogs!

(not so) Cheap Social Worker will focus on my attempts to make the most of my social worker salary. This site will not just be for social workers, but for anyone who wishes to maximize fun while minimizing expenditures.

Adventures of a (not so) Cheap Social Worker will function as my personal blog. Here, I will talk about happenings in my life along with random social work topics. As many in our field like to say, "Social work is not just a career, it's a passion!"

As you can see, I have already moved posts leaning more towards social work and my personal life to my Adventures blog. I hope this new format works well for everyone, as I am pretty excited about this change!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Bad Publicity Yet Again

I stopped by the CNN.com website tonight, only to find this video on the front page:

As much as I like Anderson Cooper and AC360, I found this entire video to be rather unsettling. Right from the beginning this report seemed to have a biased, condemnatory tone towards the medical staff caring for the baby and child protective services as a whole. While the parents may have felt that a great injustice was committed against them, I think that the hospital staff was completely appropriate in the manner they responded to this suspected shaken baby case. What surprises me, though, is the fact that the other child was actually placed in foster care for two weeks. Typically, removals are usually done only as a last resort and if a child is suspected of being in immediate danger. It's hard to say whether child protective services was justified in removing the second child, and I feel that there's more to this case than what was shown in the news report.

What bothers me most about this video is negative portrayal of social workers as individuals who take babies away on a whim. Social workers already have to deal with the "baby snatcher" stereotype, and news reports like the one on AC360 only seem to perpetuate this misconception. To me, it's safe to say that social workers provide more help than harm to people on a daily basis. Is it so hard for the media to run a story that isn't an abasement of our profession?

Social work receives bad publicity from the news media yet again. I suppose this shouldn't be news at all.