Saturday, March 19, 2011

Social Work Burnout Happens In Different Ways

While having a discussion with my mom today, she said the following: "Chinese people don't want to be social workers because there is no prestige in the profession. They all want to be doctors." Instead of arguing the many things wrong with her statement, I opted to remain silent as I've had this conversation with her thousands of times before to no avail.

What sets me apart from many of my social work friends is that the majority of my stress does not come from work. It comes from having to come home at the end of the day and hear about how I am "less than" because I do not have a more "prestigious" job. Furthermore, coming home from work is like going to a second job. Since my mom is a nurse, she spends dinner time railing about her latest problem patient (like I don't encounter lots of them at work) and lecturing me about what I should be doing at work as a medical social worker. She tells me that nursing is significantly harder than anything a social worker has to do, hence making social workers deserving of a salary half that of a nurse. Unfortunately, my family takes a militant "no secrets" approach which prevents me from setting boundaries at home. Hence, I go to work to escape the stress associated from being at home.

There are three reasons I continue to live at home. The first is to save money. The second is that I have yet to find a stable full time/part time job that will allow me to move out without draining my savings. The third is the cultural belief within my family that unmarried adult children who move out are ungrateful and abandoning their parents. To cope with this situation, I involve myself in extracurricular activities and surround myself with supportive friends. I am also on the hunt for jobs that are not within commuting distance from my house.

In the next few weeks, I will revamp my resume and cover letter and re-intensify my job search in hopes that I can move out before my one year anniversary of graduating with my MSW. Social work jobs right now are pretty tight, and a medical social work position is even more difficult to obtain. As living at home is beginning to result in medical social work burnout, I am open to jobs in different settings such as college campuses.

For the immediate future, my main goals are to find a job and move out. I also want to go on a nice vacation with the money I've saved from living at home. I'll definitely keep everyone updated on my exploits. Wish me luck!

Friday, March 11, 2011

8.9 Japan Earthquake

I've spent this evening watching news coverage of the earthquake in Japan and texting family in nearby countries to get to higher ground. Events like these are absolutely horrifying and a stern reminder that natural disasters can strike without warning.

While listening to the news, I decided that I needed to have an emergency kit in my room. Grabbing a backpack from my closet, I stuffed it with clothes, first aid tools, a flashlight, batteries, and a bottle of Gatorade. I don't really have much at home, so I might invest in a real disaster kit sometime soon. Since I live in an earthquake prone area, it's probably wise to have basic necessities in a bag so I could just grab it and go.

Apparently the entire West Cost is on tsunami alert. My hope is that this is only a safety precaution. Be safe, everyone!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Happy Social Work Month!

This March we celebrate Social Work Month, dedicated to increasing the knowledge and awareness of the social work profession nationwide. While social workers are commonly stereotyped as child protective service workers, this profession is much more than that. In fact, social workers work with a diverse population of individuals, representing various cultures, socio-economic groups, and age ranges. Social workers can also be found in a number of settings from schools, hospitals, non-profit organizations, corporations, to various government agencies. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are approximately 640,000 social workers in the United States.

Social workers perform a number of vital tasks. According to a study conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), social workers comprise the largest group of mental health services providers in the United States, outnumbering psychiatrists, psychologists, and psychiatric nurses combined. The Departments of Veterans Affairs employs over 6,000 social workers to provide counseling, substance abuse treatment, post-combat readjustment assistance, and other services to veterans and family members. Additionally, over 40 percent of American Red Cross volunteers are social workers. When it comes to the country's most vulnerable populations, social workers are always there to assist and empower.

Becoming a social worker typically requires an advanced degree and extensive work experience. According to a study conducted by the National Association of Social Workers, about 79 percent of practicing social workers have master's of social work (MSW) degrees. Many entry level social work degrees require an MSW, with opportunities to move up if one becomes licensed. To become licensed in California, a person with an MSW much complete a minimum of 3,200 supervised work hours, 104 weeks of supervision, and 57 hours of continuing education, in addition to passing two state licensing exams. One might think that social workers are compensated well for their credentials, but this is simply not the case. While social workers could work higher paying and less stressful jobs elsewhere, many choose to stay in the field because of their passion for improving the lives of the sick, poor, and disenfranchised.

The theme for this year's Social Work Month is "Social Workers Change Futures". Indeed, social workers work to improve society by creating positive change among its most susceptible members. This month, please thank your friendly social worker for the selfless and benevolent services they provide on a daily basis.