Real World Clinical Social Work Blog: Can we ever take our hats off?

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Always on the job

This article hits home for me. As a medical social worker, I try to create boundaries between work and home. However, I never seem to be far from work, especially when I have friends and family coming to me for advice.

I suppose the same goes for healthcare providers. When my grandma got sick, my mom (a nurse) served as her caregiver and nurse, barking orders at everyone. When I questioned my grandma's mentation, my mom stated, "Sorry to say, you social workers only spend 5 minutes with patients. I'm with them all day, so you don't know anything." Later, she proceeded to tell everyone that my grandma's mentation was suffering. As demoralizing as this was that I couldn't help my grandma, it's not unlike the struggles I face at work as a hospital social worker. They say things are different when it's your own family member or friend who is sick, but for me the though processes I go through in an attempt to help them are more or less the same. I'm sure my mom could say the same thing as she addressed the medical aspect of my grandma's care. If you have the knowledge base, it's hard to stand aside and have someone else do the work.

Yes, my social work brain is always on, whether I'm watching the news or talking to my friends. I think those characteristics of compassion and wanting to help are ingrained in every social worker, and probably why we're in the field in the first place.

Cheap Social Worker more than 6 years ago

Different hats

Dr Bodenheimer,this is a great article! I can totally relate to what you are saying. It's very difficult for me to leave my "social worker self" at my private counseling practice. In the outside world I find myself in situations where I instinctively react as a social worker, empathetic, ready to deal with a crisis. This is all part of being my authentic self.

Marty Devins-Horvath,LMSW more than 7 years ago

About Real World CSW

Dr. Danna Bodenheimer is the author of Real World Clinical Social Work: Find Your Voice and Find Your Way and On Clinical Social Work: Meditations and Truths From the Field. She shares practice wisdom with new clinicians.