We at ACSWA offer a few of our board members’ reminiscences on rewarding memories in their career. We invite you to share your own memories on the same subject—we will be continuing this theme through April, which we hereby designate as Clinical Social Work Month! As a BCD practitioner, you are a member of online ACSWA , the national community of clinical social workers—please feel free to check in on your ACSWA connection, including daily Clinical Twitter (tweets on behavioral health topics), blog, e-books, e-newsletter, specialty certifications at ABE, position statements and testimony, and many features that will be coming soon.
ACSWA: Could you share with us some rewarding moments from your clinical social work career?
Vickie Leff, LCSW, BCD, ACHP-SW, Palliative Care; Durham North Carolina:
There have been many moments over the past 35 years that have been extremely rewarding. One came as I was working in oncology at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston in the 80’s. Rita was a young 35-year-old woman dying from cancer. We worked over several months around issues related to her dying, her marriage, and her two young children. During her last admission, as I sat at her bedside, she held my hand and said softly “thank you for helping my children with all of this.” I was honored and touched by her kind words; it made me feel so proud to be a clinical social worker and have these opportunities.
A moment that changed my career occurred after I had attended the funeral of another young woman, Michelle. As I stood at her open grave I could not stop crying. I knew I was crying for all the patients who had died, who I had been unable to grieve until that moment. It gave me great pause, and, as a result, I took my clinical social work skills into program development for a time. It turned out to be a fantastic move for me and shaped my career going forward.
Finally, just the other day I was meeting with a mother and her teenage daughter as they talked about the impending death of their husband/father. The mother was distraught that she couldn’t help her daughter with her own sorrow. “It’s okay,” said the daughter, “I need to grieve too, Mom”. To help impact these conversations with clinical interventions is more rewarding than I can say. I’m so lucky to be a clinical social worker.
Lucia Leo-Diaz, BCD, VHA clinical social worker, Lt. Texas Guard, Mission, Texas:
The most rewarding moments come when a patient says, “You make me feel comfortable and give me hope.” That is why we do what we do every day. We build relationships, help improve a person’s quality of life, and provide hope for the future. I love being an agent of change!