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March is National Professional Social Work Month

Christine Peck | posted March 30, 2010 | Bookmark and Share

Every March is National Professional Social Work Month. The White House officially recognized this month in 1984 as a way to call attention to a different social issue each year. Beginning in 2005, the month promoted a specific area of practice, along with general promotion of the profession, to educate the public about the role of social workers.

This year’s theme for National Professional Social Work Month is “Social Workers Inspire Community Action.” With hundreds of social workers in national, state and locally elected offices, including two U.S. Senators and six U.S. Representatives, this theme certainly holds some truth. In hospice alone, we aim to inspire the community to volunteer and consider hospice as an option for comfort and quality during the end of life.

Ironically, during my first year working in hospice, the theme for National Professional Social Work Month was “The Business of Social Work: Helping People Help Themselves.” This theme continues to be my mantra for why I do what I do.

I grew up wanting to help people. Always a skilled problem solver, I believed that with the right resources, people could help themselves through all sorts of situations. Becoming a social worker was a natural path for me, and even after nearly 20 years as a social worker, 11 of which have been as a hospice social worker, my passion for the profession remains strong.

During my undergraduate studies, I took an elective course on death and dying. This ended up being a life-changing decision because during that class I realized I wanted to work in hospice. At the time my friends thought I was crazy. After all, wouldn’t working with terminally ill patients be difficult? I knew it could be, but I’d always had the desire to help people when others were unsure of what to do. Helping hospice patients and their families address concerns – whether emotional, financial, or ethical – was what I knew I wanted to do.

Having been a hospice social worker since 1999, I’ve seen the profession grow and change, along with the public’s perception of what we do. Social workers started out simply as friendly visitors. While there’s still the misperception that that’s all we are, the truth is that we help people help themselves. We reach out, touch lives and empower others to do work that’s necessary and help people cope with difficult times in their lives.

In honor of this month, I encourage you to be an advocate for hospice, read more about social workers at the National Association of Social Workers’ Web site and learn more about social work offered by the caring professionals at AseraCare Hospice.

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