"You don't have to think about doing the right thing. If you're for the right thing, then you do it without thinking."
~ Maya Angelou

August 7, 2012

An Opportunity To Empower & Support!

I recently received a comment in regards to a post sent out back in April of this year.  The post was titled "Burning Out!" http://ow.ly/cOcZp and it showcased my learning experience with just that! I want to take this opportunity to share with you the comment I received, and in turn my response.  I am empowered by the opportunity to empower and support this individual, in addition to all those that can hear me!  May this find you all well, embrace what you can control, and what you can not, accept it and release it!  Can You Hear Me?

I would like to know what change you made to your career? Did you find a different setting, different role, or got out entirely? I'm finding myself in the same position, needing to make a change - whether changing population, role, or get out of the profession entirely. I've only been in the profession for 3 years as a medical social worker & I'm already feeling burned-out. The expectations of the institution conflicts with the core values/purpose of the role. Doctors & nurses expect social workers to "fix" their patients. When staff doesn't know what to do about a situation or don't want to deal with it, they tell me to resolve it. Despite my efforts on self-care: vacations, going to the beach, massages - when Monday comes around, I become very stressed & anxious about work.

I do not think that I can do direct practice for the long-term but I really do not know what other areas of social work I can do that pays well as the healthcare field.

Thank You for your honest and insightful comment, I hear you! I can identify with much of what you shared and spoke to, and I can see that you are experiencing a heavy load of stress that does not, and will not serve you well! The hope and expectation that you carry with you is what drives you as a social worker. However, because this is not met by those you work with, and the setting/system/culture you are immersed in to, you are continually let down, challenged, and frustrated. This is exactly what contributes to one becoming burnt out. So, what do you do?

First, you need to ask yourself why you chose this profession? What is it that you ultimately imagined yourself doing in this role? Why did you go into medical social work? Is it the monetary compensation that is keeping you there, or influencing your next move? (hopefully not because if you are after the $ this can and will create its own set of challenges). There are several areas one can go in to and pursue with a social work degree/background here are a few ideas: http://ow.ly/cO73D

When you work in a non-social work system like you do, you will often face the challenges that you have. So, you may want to look in to a social work/social services system where you will be more aligned with what your identity, and role as a social worker is. I am glad to hear that you have found the time for some self-care activities, but in order to get the necessary support and outlet (letting go/surrendering) you will have to utilize other areas of self-care that will support your physical, emotional, and mental health needs.  These are the areas that will require work, effort, and a real commitment. Here is a good resource and support for you: "Preventing Burnout Signs, Symptoms, Causes, and Coping Strategies"

Now, to address your questions. I became a social worker to help others change for the better. I have a population that I am passionate about working with, but the root of it all was being a social worker, a competent and effective one. That role has not changed in my new endeavors as I continue to use all of my social work skills to empower, support, and instruct others so that the populations that I care for will be met with positive, effective, and sustainable services. I am still serving, and the opportunities that await are endless.

It is a big "what if" and risk to make the kind of change that I did, and the one that you are asking yourself? However, what happens if you don't? What happens if you continue down this road? Hopefully, after you read my post you got a sense of what can. The impossible can always be broken down in to possibilities, and the risks we take can lead to wonderful opportunities. I know you have plenty more to give, and your best social work is yet to come! We recently started a facebook page, our way of empowering and supporting all those that can hear us. This page is all about putting out positive resources, tools, and support for your practice, self-care, and overall well-being. We welcome you to "like" our page as we will always strive to help you help yourself! http://ow.ly/cOa8f

Thank You again for reaching out, please feel free to contact us anytime!

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