As social work month comes to an end, I reflect upon one of my favorite quotes by Neva Deardoff (1933):
Breathes there a social worker who, though he is weary, tense, and with soul worn threadbare, is not ready to start to work all over again in this cause.
Choosing a career in social work was the best decision of my life and it’s fitting that I’m wrapping up my first month on the job at the Cancer Support Community (CSC) during social work month. CSC is the largest provider of social and emotional support services for individuals and families impacted by cancer. With over 50 affiliates across the nation and a dynamic online community, we are also the largest nonprofit employer of psychosocial oncology professionals in the United States.
Although I’ve focused my career primarily in “macro” work, including policy, advocacy, and administration, I’m incredibly thankful for my clinical and direct practice colleagues who work on the front lines, making up the social safety net of our healthcare and social systems. At CSC, our social workers are the foundation of our work. They serve as executive directors and key staff at our affiliate organizations, deliver psychotherapeutic and support group services, and navigate patients to the care and services they need.
Outside of CSC, oncology social workers provide services to a diverse population of patients and families, across disease states, and along the care continuum. Clinical social workers provide psychotherapeutic services to patients dealing with mental health challenges like anxiety and depression, often as a result of their cancer experience. Social work case managers help patients address logistic concerns and support them as they are discharged from inpatient facilities. Social work patient navigators help patients address barriers and solve complex challenges in order to navigate the healthcare system. Social workers can serve as healthcare administrators and are key members of the healthcare team.
Although not every cancer patient will receive social work services, it’s important for patients to know social, emotional, and logistical support is available to them, either through their health care institution or through organizations like the Cancer Support Community. During one of the most difficult experiences that one can endure, it’s critical that patients receive the full spectrum of support services and social workers are here to help.