It's that time of year! March is here! And Louisiana Social Workers are taking over downtown this week! It's National Social Work Month. NASW-La chapter holds it's annual Social Work Conference in Baton Rouge every March. It's the largest gathering of Social Workers in La.
So what is the hoopla all about? It's about having recognition as a Profession & recognizing our contributions. As a Social Worker myself, I've often been frustrated about how careless people can be with the term Social Worker, including the general public and professionals alike. There are numerous types of counselors, mediators, therapists, clinicians, substance abuse counselors, discharge planners etc out there. And Social Workers can be all of these. But we are also trained in the field of Social Work with a degree in Social Work.
Many instutitions hire professionals that do some work similar to us yet do not hold degrees in Social Work. How often have you heard someone at a nursing home/assisted living/group home/hospital/school etc. called "the Social Worker"? Many times they are not one, but shrug and go with it. Would you call a CNA a nurse? Would you call the phlebotomist a nurse? Would you call a certified medical assistant a doctor? Is a personal trainer a physical therapist? Similar does not equal the same, especially not in a field that requires specific training/degree, ethics, continued education etc and monitoring by a state board.
Social Workers are trained to work with patients/clients in a holistic way, addressing all needs, resources, support etc for the welfare of those we are helping. We have one of the most inclusive Code of Ethics out there and others have modeled theirs after ours.
This blog is not meant in any way to diminish any other discipline, but to distinguish Social Workers as a separate, professional entity. This year's theme is Social Workers - Leaders.Advocates.Champions And this is our time to have the spotlight on our profession and to highlight our contributions to society. It's our time to "toot our own horn" so to speak.
What can you do for Social Work Month? If you know a Social Worker, let him/her know how they've helped/contributed to your or your family's needs. If you work with a Social Worker, thank him/her for their role/contribution in your workplace, where they not only do their job for clients, but often assist with staff concerns.
I wish all of the Social Workers out there a very Happy Social Work Month! You are appreciated and respected.
Kristi Miranda, LCSW