Saturday, June 11, 2022

How did you get into Psychiatric Social Work?

I remember taking a vocational assessment in 8th or 9th grade and the question which has always stuck with me is something like "Do you prefer to work with people or things?" And I remember the quick and distinct answer I had, "People!" I remember this so well because I was so certain. 

As I grew older I did a lot of factory work while I was in college being a material handler at G & E and then a film tester at Kodak. My BA degree was in philosophy and then I found out if I got a job at a New York State Hospital they would allow me to go to graduate school on leave with pay. I got a job at Kings Park State Hospital at Kings Park New York on Long Island as a "Psychiatric Social Worker Trainee II." I applied to MSW programs and finally chose SUNY Albany where I attended from 1970 - 1972 and got my MSW in May of 1972 50 years ago.

It has been a wonderful career which I have enjoyed immensely although I have worked 3 jobs most of my career to support my large family.

Back in the 70s Social Work was called a "semi profession" along with nursing, and teaching. The three semi professions were female dominated, more poorly paid, and lower status than the professions of medicine, and law. Over the years the salaries and benefits of nursing and teaching have risen but Social Work has remained a lower paid, lower status, lower benefit semi profession. 

Nonetheless, I don't regret my decision to go into Social Work. The profession is a great fit for me and the satisfaction and fulfillment has been immense and more than offset the lower compensation, benefits, and social status. I have learned to use the low status to my benefit when requests and expectations are placed on me and I demure, saying, "Look, I'm just a Social Worker."

Just a Social Worker but truly yours,

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