Tag Archives: humor

10 Things I Learned From My First Year as a Social Worker

June 1st officially marked the end of my first year as a social worker. If you don’t know much about medical social work, check out this post. It’s been a rough year in many ways, but it’s also been one that resulted in significant growth for me, both professionally and personally. I was reflecting on the past year and decided I want to share a few things I learned in my first year as a social worker.

b8c53f8c75f5b9723deebd35f6002a93

1. Expect the unexpected. From personally delivering (aka riding) a motorized scooter to a patient’s room to being screamed at by patients about the hospital food to arranging an inpatient marriage ceremony  — you just never know what will happen or what you’ll be called to do.

2. Unconditional positive regard is the name of the game. I see a lot of people on some of the worst days of their lives. Either they or their loved one are sick enough to require hospital care. Due to stress, fear, exhaustion, personality, or some combination of these, people are understandably upset and perhaps not their most congenial selves when I meet them. And that’s OK. They don’t have to like me.  Frankly I don’t have to like the patients that I work with, nor approve of their actions. I just need to meet them where they’re at, without judgment. I try to be respectful and compassionate, and I always try to keep in mind that I know almost nothing about the person’s struggles and problems that led them to the moment I started working with them. Unconditional positive regard is something that I will constantly be working on, but I feel like I gained a greater understanding of its importance over the past year.

3. Burnout and compassion fatigue are real.  They aren’t just concepts in a textbook. I knew I was starting to get burnt out a month ago when I found myself feeling tired and overwhelmed and getting annoyed when patients or their families needed my help with complex social situations. I just wanted to do my assessments and get them out the door. That may sound harsh, but it’s the truth. If you’re finding it more difficult to care, you’re probably getting burned out.

4. Self-care, self-care, self-care. To be honest, the emphasis on self-care during graduate school always felt fluffy or overplayed, but I understand the importance of it now. The best way for me to combat burnout or compassion fatigue (see #3) is to take care of myself. The basics — healthy eating, adequate sleep, and exercise — make a HUGE difference for me. I also found that pursuing interests outside of my work, such as writing this blog or volunteering with Make-A-Wish, is especially helpful when work is frustrating. Finally, making sure that I leave on time has been a game-changer for me. It gives me a greater sense of control and helps me feel like work isn’t taking my time and energy away from me.

5. Advocacy is the most important part of my job. Whether it’s identifying systems-level issues that need to be addressed (like increasing access to palliative care options) or making sure that a patient’s voice is heard, advocacy is essential. In medicine especially, I feel like I need to hand out bumper stickers that say, “People have the right to make bad decisions.” I may not agree with someone’s choices, like when patients with an alcohol use disorder choose to go home instead of to a treatment program, but as long as they have the capacity to make their own decisions I will vehemently defend their right to do so.  There’s been more than one occasion when I had to talk to the medical team about self-determination because they were holding up a discharge to push patients to choose the option they felt was best. The medical team’s intentions were good, but it was still paternalistic. Sometimes this kind of advocacy doesn’t exactly make me popular on the multidisciplinary team, but I feel that it’s necessary to respect the patients’ decisions, regardless of my own opinions.

6. Social work skills are just as useful for coworkers as they are for patients. My role in the multidisciplinary team is as important as my direct role with patients. As a medical social worker, my work with patients does not exist in a vacuum. It’s not one-on-one work with a patient. I’m working with the patient, doctors, nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, nutritionists, etc. I often end up using the basic skills I learned (i.e., active listening, reflection, boundary setting, empathy, etc.) as a facilitator and to help smooth disagreements between disciplines.

7. Gallows humor is necessary. Like many people who work in healthcare, my coworkers and I make jokes about death and disease. The humor isn’t cruel, and as one physician in an article on Medscape put it, the difference between gallows humor and derogatory humor is like “the difference between whistling as you go through the graveyard and kicking over the gravestones.” Our jokes aren’t at the patient’s expense; they’re a coping mechanism to help deal with the constant stream of macabre circumstances.

8.  The work will never be finished. Everyday I make a list of all the things I should work on, and inevitably I never complete my list. Every time I cross a few things off, a couple more are added on. It has taught me to prioritize and to accept that I will never be done. One of the best adjustments I continue to work on is letting go of the expectations I have for the day. I only get frustrated if I have an idea of how things are “supposed to go.” It’s best if I approach my days with curiosity, wondering what crazy things will happen that day.

9. Life is short. A small but significant number of patients I work with either die in the hospital or leave the hospital on hospice. And sometimes it’s completely unexpected. I recently had a younger person come in for what they thought were gallstones, but it turned out to be stage IV pancreatic cancer. His prognosis is about 6 months. Seeing how quickly life can change is a constant reminder for me to stay in the present and enjoy it and to make the most of the time I have with the people I love.

10. People’s strength and resiliency is amazing. For all of the death, loss, anger, and family disputes happening around me, I am always impressed and inspired by the strength demonstrated by patients and their families. I’ve seen a son step up to care for his estranged father who he hadn’t seen in 15 years. I’ve seen a man move heaven and earth to get his partner home so he could pass away with his beloved cat at his side. And I’ve seen a patient fight his way back from a devastating stroke, regaining the ability to swallow, walk, and speak, in order to live independently again. For all of the negative things that can happen, it’s imperative to remember these moments; people truly are resilient.

Advertisements

Monday: Dumpster Diving Edition

Well, it was one of THOSE Mondays yesterday, and I have to share how my day started because it’s ridiculous. So I was on my way to work and realized that my gas tank was basically empty. And I don’t mean How long has my gas light been on? empty. It was Oh my gosh, is it possible for the needle to move past E? empty.

Gas-on-empty

*Note to self: follow mom’s advice and fill up at the gas tank when gets down to the last quarter. Or, you know, pay attention to that whole gas light thing.

Fortunately, my prayers were answered and I made it to the gas station. Let me set the scene for you. I start work pretty early, so it was about 6:45am. I was the only person at the gas station, and I was looking spiffy in a cute dress. I was relieved that I didn’t end up hitch hiking, but I was also getting nervous about making it to work on time. While I filled up my tank I thought it would be an excellent idea to quickly clean out my car. During hasty purge of trash and miscellaneous items from my car, I came to a horrific realization. I threw my credit card in the trash can.

Camera:   DCS560C Serial #: K560C-01570 Width:    3040 Height:   2008 Date:  1/23/04 Time:   16:10:17 DCS5XX Image FW Ver:   3.2.3 TIFF Image Look:   Product Sharpening Requested:No (Preferences) Counter:    [16411] ISO Speed:  80 Aperture:  f25 Shutter:  1/200 Max Aperture:  f4.0 Min Aperture:  f29 Exposure Mode:  Manual (M) Compensation:  +0.0 Flash Compensation:  +0.0 Meter Mode:  Evaluative Flash Mode:  No flash Drive Mode:  Single Focus Mode:  Manual Focus Point:  --o-- Focal Length (mm):  48 White balance: Custom Time: 16:10:17.477

Source. The trash can looked like this one.

At this point I just suck it up and start digging around in the trash. It’s a deep trash can so my whole arm is in there. In a moment of hope, I see my credit card next to a half-eaten hamburger and a cup with an unidentifiable sticky brown substance in it. But alas, I cannot reach the card. In another act of genius, I attempt to tilt the trash can (which by the way is quite large) and ended up completely knocking it over. Squeegee water spilled everywhere, and I still couldn’t reach the card. I quickly put the trash can upright and looked around to see if anyone saw me. Lucky for me the gas station attendant was concentrating on his book.

Now I don’t know if it was frustration or perseverance or just plain stubbornness that came over me, but I decided to go for it to get my card. I kid you not; I stuck my entire upper body in the trash can. Thankfully, it wasn’t very full, but I’m sure it was a sight to be seen. Some girl in a nice dress with only her legs visible because she’s torso deep in a trash can.

1347314447-dumpster_diving

Source. I imagine I looked something like this.

It was worth it. I emerged victorious, smiling as I held my credit card. It was at that moment that I made eye contact with the gas station attendant, who had clearly seen the whole thing. I’m sure I looked like a deer in the headlights, embarrassed by my recent dumpster diving. We locked eyes for just a second before he was bent over, laughing hysterically.

I couldn’t help but laugh, too. We exchanged a smile and wave before I hopped in the car and headed to work, where I doused myself in hand sanitizer. (Hospitals for the win!) It was not how I intended to start my day, but it was a great reminder that sometimes, when everything seems to go wrong, you just have to laugh.

I Bet I’m Ice Cream {Fun Friday}

Happy Friday!! We made it y’all.

It’s been a while since my last Fun Friday post, so I thought I’d share a few pictures, videos, and stories that made me laugh or smile this week. Enjoy!


I’ll kick things off with a sweet dog who just can’t figure out where that squeaky noise is coming from.

With every squeak she just looks like, “What was that?! Oh well, back to frolicking in the snow.”

I have some good news for the optimists out there. According to a recent study by lead author Rosalba Hernandez, a professor of social work at the University of Illinois, optimistic people have healthier hearts. The study showed optimists were “50 and 76 percent more likely to have total health scores in the intermediate or ideal ranges, respectively.” The association remained significant even after adjusting for socio-demographic characteristics and poor mental health.

Here’s to seeing the glass half full!

Moving on to a completely different, but health-related story, I want to share a short article by Elaine Ambrose entitled “Don’t Fart During an MRI.”  I don’t think this one needs much explaining. Just read it.

I’ll close out this week’s edition of Fun Friday with an excellent prank video.

How low can you go?

Have a wonderful weekend!!

Don’t Be A Psycho {Fun Friday}

I can’t believe it’s finally here; I graduate tomorrow! I’m so excited to spend the weekend celebrating with my family and friends. I will write more about the end of this chapter of my life next week, but for now I want to continue with Smile & Laugh Fridays. If your interested, the two previous posts are Smile, It’s the Weekend and It’s Gonna Be May.

Let’s kick things off with a little grammar humor.

I like cooking

 

Have you seen Jimmy Fallon’s hashtag segments? They always make me laugh. In honor of Mother’s Day, I want to share the segment from this week. #MomQuotes

I saw this sweet post from Humans of New York:

1939614_636575966416507_539704968_n

“One day a crazy looking homeless guy came to the door, and we were about to close the door on him, but my mother saw him and shouted: ‘Hey Eugene!’ She knew his name! Then she ran around the kitchen putting all sorts of food into tupperware, and brought it out to him. After he left, we asked my mom why she gave him so much food. She told us: ‘You never know how Jesus is going to look when he shows up.’ She was always saying that– it was a spiritual thing. Then you know what happened? Two months later, that same man showed up on the door step, clean shaven, and wearing a suit. And he had an envelope with money for my mother. ‘Ms. Rosa always believed in me,’ he said. I’ll never forget it! Eugene was his name.”

Finally, I frequently watch The Colbert Report, and I loved one of his recent openers. Colbert satirizes “Watters’ World,” a segment on The O’Reilly Factor. As a young person who cares about politics and my government representation, I much prefer “Tad’s Turf.” 🙂

Have a great weekend!

 

Carrots 'N' Cake

Social worker by day; wannabe foodie by night.

Fairly Southern

Welcome to my fair trade, eco-friendly, socially conscious front porch

Meg Goes Nom Nom

Nomming my way through Ann Arbor.

Avocado a Day

Social worker by day; wannabe foodie by night.

Summer Tomato

Healthy Eating Tips

gaygeeks.wordpress.com/

Authors, Artists, Geeks, Husbands

Fit Foodie Finds

Where healthy meets delicious.

She Likes It Fresh

Keeping it fresh, one bite at a time.

Slimplify Life

Healthy Made Simple

A Dash of Data

Fun-sized bites of data analysis

Food 4 Your Mood

A journey to the Gastronomy Universe. A one-stop destination for foodies, chefs and wannabes.

wellfesto

hacking health, designing life

Food : NPR

Social worker by day; wannabe foodie by night.

Aminelle Nali - Splendiferous Doses of Happiness

...changing lives one word at a time! =)

A Journey Back To Health

Welcome to my journey...