Wednesday, February 12, 2014

What Social Workers Make


Wednesday, January 8, 2014


Hello and Happy New Year!

After much though and time, I have decided to once again change the format of my blogs in an attempt to blog more frequently.  This morning, I have merged the contents of this blog with (not so) Cheap Social Worker.  All new posts can be found there.  This site will still be around for a while, but I will no longer be updating it.

Thank you for your continued support of my blog, and see you on my other page!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Why Nurses Make More Than Social Workers

On social worker blogs and among my peers, I often hear about how unfair it is that nurses get paid more than social workers. A common catchphrase is, "Social workers have twice the education, but half the salary!" A while back, this same issue came up on a social worker salary post on I wrote a rather long comment in response and thought it would be good to repost it here. It's my take on this controversial and recurring issue in our field.
I can only theorize as to why nurses make more than social workers. While I don’t necessarily agree with everything on this list, here’s what I’ve brainstormed:

-Liability: Perhaps nurses are paid more because they directly impact the lives of patients. Injecting the wrong medication dosage, not using proper sanitation methods, and other such mistakes can severely hurt of kill a patient. Furthermore, nurses face many occupational hazards such as direct exposure to diseases, bodily fluids, needlesticks, etc. I did not go to nursing school because I did not want to handle wounds, clean bodily waste and commodes, and whatnot. I’m willing to pay the nurses to let them deal with that.

-Curriculum: My social worker friends me that they cannot handle nursing curriculum because it is too difficult and rigorous. I do not know if this is true, but I can attest that curriculum-wise, my MSW program was significantly easier than any science class I took as an undergrad (though my brain is probably just not wired for science). At work, I am frequently impressed by the breadth of knowledge the nurses have, even the ones with an AA degree. These nurses are individuals that make recommendations to doctors as to how to treat the patient. Even with an MSW, I find myself feeling like an idiot at work due to my utter lack of medical knowledge compared to nurses. Furthermore, I feel as if I apply very little of my grad school curriculum at work.
Where I work, RN case managers lead the discharge planning process. This seems to make sense to me because RNs are capable of obtaining psychosocial information while also being knowledgeable about the medical aspects of the patient. It’s much more efficient, as social workers like myself often have to defer to RN case managers when getting insurance authorizations, explaining why a patient needs a certain treatment, reading lab/PT/OT/x-ray results, and even determining if a patient is discharging. When coordinating care between the various allied health fields, I’d trust the nurse to do it over myself because I simply don’t have the medical knowledge a nurse does. I feel I work best when brought in as a consultant to handle the psychosocial aspect of care affecting discharge.

-Unions: Nurses have a very powerful union and are able to bargain for their wages. I know of hospitals with nurses that threaten to strike every year unless their demands are met. If social workers were to do the same, I’m sure the wages would go up.

-Economics: Nursing schools are severely impacted. At some schools in my area, there is a 5 year wait list to get in. By keeping nursing schools capped, this keeps the number of nurses entering the workforce low. With such a high demand for nurses, these hospitals with snatch up these new nursing grads and pay pretty generous salaries too.
Unfortunately the field is saturated with social science type majors who can get hired to perform “counseling” type work. Until social workers can ensure national title protection, we’ll have high school/college grads doing our work for cheap and driving down our wages. Nursing does not have this problem.
It seems like the high paying jobs these days are in health and hard sciences: engineering, computer programming, technology, medicine, etc. If you look at salary figures, those who studied the health/hard sciences tend to make more than humanities/social sciences. That’s because those in the former tend to work in profit-driven companies. Most social workers on the other hand end up in the non-profit sector.

I’m not trying to say that nursing is better than social work. However, I don’t think we should be talking about an AA in nursing like it’s cake. Many RNs I know with AA degrees are as knowledgeable than BSNs. Also, nurses should be our allies, not our rivals. At my job, the bedside nurse spends significantly more time with the patient than the social worker, and is hence an excellent resource when it comes to psychosocial issues.

Instead of comparing ourselves to other professions, we should look without our own field and see how we can improve. If we must compare ourselves to nursing, remember than decades ago, nurses were as overworked underpaid as social workers. By unionizing, advocating, and empowering themselves, they have grown to be a powerful profession in the medical field. Nurses have worked their way up since the days of Florence Nightingale. Social worker have the capacity to do the same.

Hope this explanation helps!


Friday, October 26, 2012

San Francisco Giants in the World Series: So Much Love in the City!

I've already touched on the World Series on Cheap Social Worker (don't forget to get your free tacos), but after last night I felt the need to expand on it on this blog! My apologies to Detroit Tigers fans!

Yesterday, I decided to take a trip to AT&T Park. Being the cheap social worker that I am, I didn't have $500 to spare for World Series tickets. I also didn't wake up early enough to camp out for a spot at the right field keyhole. Instead, I figured I would walk around, get a shirt, get some food, take in the sights, and find a TV to watch the game. Boy, was it an experience!

Outside the park was a party in itself. Mobs of people were congregated behind makeshift sportscaster sets in an attempt to get on TV. Radio stations were handing out free signs. Various companies were handing out free lanyards, black and orange beads, and coupons. Artists and other vendors were milling around trying to sell Giants gear.

The crowds thinned out a little by game time, but you didn't have to be inside the park it take in the World Series experience. Following the National Anthem, four fighter planes flew directly over my head. While I wasn't able to get into the right field keyhole, I got to see some of the action from the gates leading into it. The vacated sportscaster sets all had televisions tuned into the game, with crowds of people watching and cheering on the Giants. The only issue was that the broadcast was roughly 15 seconds delayed from what was happening inside the stadium, so every time a roar erupted everyone outside would pull out their phones or run to the nearest television.

The magic didn't end with the game. As I was walking home with my Giants shirt and hat, I was stopped my numerous people from all walks of life asking about the score. It was nice giving people something to smile about for a change.

Professional sports tends to get a bad rap these days. However, no one can argue value of sports in uniting a community. I've lost track of the number of strangers I've high-fived these past few days. The shared euphoria that comes with watching your city's team succeed definitely transcends political, cultural, and linguistic differences. I know it's temporary and will screech to a halt if things don't go well for Giants.  Let's not forget that elections are in less than two weeks, which will likely bring about divisiveness all over again.  Hence, I'm enjoying this sense of community and love while it lasts!

Here are a few pictures from my day in San Francisco.  GO GIANTS!!!

San Francisco Giants World Series 2012San Francisco Giants World Series 2012
McCovey Cove San Francisco

AT&T Park San Francisco

Monday, October 15, 2012

Happy National Case Management Week!

October 14-20 marks National Case Management Week, acknowledging the efforts of case managers working in the healthcare setting. Case managers provide a multitude of services, including resource management, clinical assessment/review, discharge planning, counseling, and patient advocacy. These individuals include physicians, nurses, social workers, and other allied fields.

 This year's slogan for National Case Management Week is "Patient-Oriented, Outcome-Driven". As hospitals face changing laws and increasingly complex patients, case managers are becoming more important in ensuring that individuals and families receive high quality yet cost-effective services.

The case managers I work with are some of the most dedicated people I know. These hardworking individuals can be found behind the scenes working long hours with high case loads to ensure that patients receive the care they need. Case management is indeed a thankless job that is not always acknowledged or seen by those on the floors.

This week, please don't forget to thank your friendly case managers for the integral services they provide to patients, families, and hospital staff on a daily basis!
case management week 2012

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Return to Blogging

Wow, almost four months have passed since my last post!  Seems like so much time has passed that even Blogger has changed its interface...  I've definitely been doing a bad job at blogging.  Between work, sitting in traffic several hours a day, trying to exercise, and trying to relax after a long day, I really don't have time for much.

I've been thinking about the format of my blogs and what to do with them.  Since I don't blog frequently enough, one option is to recombine them into a single blog again.  I suppose I could also keep them separate and find a way to connect them into a bigger site at some point.  My blogs will always be works in progress, so expect changes in the future!

Quick life update: Still working the same jobs, living at home, and not having much luck with the Bay Area housing market.  Seriously, who wants to pay $1000/month to live in a room in a house?  Doesn't help than my parents expect me to live at home until I either get married or buy a house. Given my home situation, I wonder if I would have a better life if I did go to medical/law/engineering school.  Then I realize that my doctor friends have debt in the six figure range (and make less than expected after malpractice insurance/taxes/overhead), my lawyer friends are mostly unemployed and in six figure debt , and my engineering friends only make slightly more than I do.  I suppose it's sad times for everyone right now.

The positive thing about all of this is having extra money to do a little traveling.  It's quite addicting and a motivating factor in finding a career that lets me travel all over the place.  I'll talk about my trips at some point.

Well, that's all for now.  I'll also be updating Cheap Social Worker, so please feel free to check that out too!