As I round out my final year in the Masters of Social Work (M.S.W.) Program at Wheelock College, I am arguably at one of the busier stages of my life. With a full course load, a community-based research project, and a split internship within the MassSTART and Living With Loss grief support program at Wediko, I find myself needing to schedule everything, including time with my wife, to actually maintain all that needs to get done.
During this time of additional stress, I find comfort in a few facts:
- There is a light at the end of the tunnel. May’s graduation date is fast approaching and so are various deadlines for each of my involvements. I have valued each of these opportunities, allowing them to shape the social worker I will become. Thanks to the great mentorship and training I’ve received along the way, I view the impending closure of these responsibilities as the beginning of a new journey as opposed to the end of this one.
- I am not alone in this stress. In fact, I have a remarkably large and resilient cohort who have walked a similar tightrope of courses, research projects, internships, and personal lives and have come out better for it on the other side. The social work profession arose within the United States at the turn of the 18th century and has an especially rich history in Massachusetts where I currently study and practice. I have joined an inclusive and welcoming club, and with its support and guidance I feel confident in my ability to accomplish the remainder of my work in these upcoming months.
- It’s worth it. Simply put, this profession is worth the work and struggle. Despite feeling stressed and overwhelmed at times, I am reminded daily that social workers here and around the world are all driven by their determination to help others. It’s at the core of the people who commit to this profession, and it tends to stay with them. I’m stressed now, but I’ll overcome because I know what I want to do, and I’ll do the work it takes to get there.
My community-based research project is about the staff who work with traumatized youth and understanding the impact that trauma has on those providing aid. Through my time with Wediko, in my M.S.W. Program, and in my 10 years as a Mental Health Specialist at Mclean Hospital, I have seen staff members who realize this line of work isn’t for them. That’s okay and expected from any career.
However, the toll of this work varies from person to person and, for the most part, I see this profession not as wearing people down but rather as bringing them together. Social work unites people, pulls them through the more stressful and difficult parts of their jobs to help them appreciate and value their impact even more.
I am proud to be a social worker and proud to be part of this extensive community. We look at everyone and everything within their systemic contexts, we self-reflect often, we collaborate well, we want to have the greatest impact on those with the greatest need, and we persevere. If any aspiring professionals identify with these descriptions, they should strongly consider joining our large, proud social work family.
Happy Social Work Awareness Month!
Interested in learning more about Social Work? Visit the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) for more information.