Wednesday, March 19, 2014

March is Social Worker Month

The theme for Social Worker Month 2014 is “All People Matter.” The theme appropriately sums up the profession’s commitment to improving social conditions and the quality of life for everyone. Whether you’re interested in becoming a social worker yourself or just want to learn more about the profession, read on for information about this career that serves so many.

History of Social Work:

According to this site, the profession was established in the 19th century as a way to make sure immigrants and other at risk individuals gained the skills and tools necessary to avoid economic and social poverty.  Today, they work with individuals, families, and communities in a variety of settings to ensure optimal functioning in society based on the NASW Code of Ethics.

What is Optimal Functioning?

Optimal functioning involves the different components of any individual successfully working together to create a well-adjusted person who has the ability to thrive in society. Those components include:

Physical: involving the body.
Psychological: mental and emotional well-being.
Social: relating to or interacting with others.
Spiritual: belief in the sacred. In some instances, spiritual beliefs involve a higher power.

What Does a Social Worker Do?

Depending upon where a social worker is employed, his/her daily responsibilities might vary. Generally, social workers ensure that individuals are treated with dignity and respect. This includes having their daily needs met in a variety of ways.  According to the New York State Society for Clinical Social Workers, the range of issues handled by a social worker include:

Addictive disorders
Illness, injury, and disabilities

Where Do Social Workers Work?

Social workers provide services in a variety of settings, including:

Hospitals, nursing homes, and other health facilities
Rehabilitation centers
Private practices

Important Traits for Social Workers:

Because of the nature of their responsibilities, social workers typically enjoy helping others, ranging from children to older adults. Other important traits include:

1. Patience.
2. Empathy.
3. Strong organizational skills.
4. Dependability.
5. Ability to handle stressful situations.
6. Maintaining a sense of calm in a crisis situation.

Careers in Social Work:

Interested in how to become a social worker? Check out the following:

Educational Requirements:  In some areas, a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree is adequate for a career in social work. A Master of Social Work (MSW) is required in some specialties. If you’re considering a career in social work, check into the requirements for the area that interests you. Regardless of the degree option you choose, your degree must be obtained by a program that is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
Career Exploration: Think the career might be for you? Speak with a social worker to gain valuable insight, or ask to shadow a social worker for a day. Look into different educational programs.
Volunteer Opportunities: Spending time in a nursing home, hospital, or another healthcare setting might give you an idea whether a career in social worker might be appropriate for you.

To Learn More About a Career in Social Work, check out the following:

National Association of Social Workers
Council on Social Work Education
Bureau of Labor Statistics

Kathy Rembisz
Contributing Writer

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