Young. Elderly. Overwhelmed. Resilient. Hopeless. Employed. Disabled. Independent. Dependent. Traveler. Homebound. Underprivileged. Wealthy. Male. Female. High School Diploma. College Degree. Active. Sedentary. Short. Tall. Frail. Strong. Supported. Isolated. What comes to mind when you think of a dialysis patient? What … Continue reading
Lately life has been quite an exciting whirlwind! I’m now halfway through my training for my new job as a nephrology social worker for an outpatient dialysis center. For these past couple weeks I’ve been attached-at-the-hip with a binder that’s so large and heavy that it’s not unlike lugging around a second body. This binder I refer to would be my
Social Work Orientation Manual “Nephrology Bible”, which is filled with information regarding end-stage renal disease, the different modalities for dialysis, medical terminology, insurance options, assistance programs, guidelines for documentation, the role of the social worker, coping mechanisms for patients, mental health concerns for those facing chronic illness… you get the idea. Essentially it’s jam-packed with all of the tools and gadgets that will help me be successful in my new role as a nephrology social worker.
Nephrology Social Work (NSW) is a uniquely specialized profession of individuals trained to help patients and their families navigate the difficult and unique challenges that arise as a result of chronic kidney disease. Nephrology social workers accomplish this through a variety of interventions:
- Administering psychosocial assessments and quality of life surveys
- Identifying and developing treatment goals and plans of care
- Evaluating and monitoring ongoing psychosocial issues and patient goals
- Collaborating with an interdisciplinary medical team regarding patient care
- Partnering with the facility administrator to advocate for patient care
- Providing supportive counseling for patients facing psychosocial challenges
- Providing education on kidney transplant options and initiating referrals to transplant centers for evaluation
- Providing psychoeducation to patients and families on disease process and treatment modalities
- Conceptualizing and evaluating interventions with respect to human behavior and social environment
- Initiating referrals and providing education for community resources: financial programs, medication assistant programs, vocational rehabilitation programs, transportation resources, mental health and chemical dependency resources, and home health agencies
Lots to learn? You bet. Overwhelming? Certainly. Do I already love my new job? Absolutely.
I’m not sure why I never really considered working in dialysis or nephrology before, especially given my experience in transplant during my internship. When I became a medical social worker, I knew for certain that I wanted to work with a chronically ill patient population in an outpatient setting. This job is all of that and more. Even though our center doesn’t provide treatment to pediatric patients, I really have found a love for working with older adults. Of course kiddos will always have a special place in my heart, which is why I’m excited to make a commitment as a camp counselor each summer for children with kidney disease. Talk about having the best of both worlds! As cliche as it sounds, NSW already feels like it’s the place I’m meant to be professionally.
What’s to Love about My New Job as a Nephrology Social Worker?
- Outpatient Setting. Although I enjoyed being able to work in the hospital during my internship, the part I loved most was working in the outpatient clinics. Acute care and crisis intervention can be exciting, but I always felt the clinic setting was a much better fit for me.
- Chronic Illness. I’ve always felt drawn to working with this patient population because of the unique challenges they face. I enjoy the long-term therapeutic relationships that are built, and the ability to be a supportive role in their life as they navigate the complexities of their disease process.
- Clinical Focus. In my last job, my primary role was discharge planning. I missed being able to utilize my clinical skills. In this role, I’m excited that such a large part of my job is to provide supportive counseling, motivational interviewing, and behavior-change interventions as it relates to treatment.
- Psychoeducation. In addition to supportive counseling, a large part of my role will be to provide psychoeducation on the disease process and treatment modalities. Sometimes seasoned social workers also help lead the Kidney Care Class, which is also an excellent way to build rapport with future patients and to provide support for any concerns or fears.
- Transplant. After loving my internship, I always said a dream job of mine would be to work in transplant. I love that my role as a nephrology social worker plays such a huge part in the transplant process. I will be providing education, discussing treatment options, initiating the referrals, and communicating with the transplant centers for ongoing follow-up. Everyone knows I’m passionate about the world of transplant, so it should be no surprise that I’m also a walking billboard for organ donation… remember to donate life!
- Program Development. As social workers, another major part of our role in the dialysis clinic is to provide ongoing innovation. Some social workers even opt to develop and run support groups for their clinics, which is something I would be very interested in pursuing in the future.
- Community. As I stated previously, NSW is a large and uniquely specialized profession. Luckily, this also means having a great sense of community. There are many councils, groups, and organizations out there to become a part of, so that way we can collaborate as a profession.
- Ongoing Education. There is so much to learn in the world of nephrology, so I am grateful for the immense amount of literature available, especially in regard to NSW specifically. Additionally, there are many conferences, presentations, and trainings available so that the profession can continue to gain knowledge about the field.
So much to love. I’m so excited to see how I evolve into my role as a nephrology social worker. The preceptors that are training me are fantastic at their jobs, and even in this short amount of time, they have become my social work role models. To fully disclose, when I applied for this position, I really had no clue what I was getting myself into. I certainly would never have thought it would turn out to be a potential dream job. This is a role that I can continue to grow in and learn from, even 10 or 20 years from now. Every social worker at some point finds their niche, some sooner than others… and I’m fairly certain that I’ve found mine.
Finally. Applications and paperwork. Waiting. An insane amount of studying. Two exams. More waiting. Phone calls to the board. Did I mention waiting? Finally. The wait is over, and the Wisconsin Board has at last issued my license. Ladies and gents, I can officially introduce myself to you as a Certified Advanced Practice Social Worker (CAPSW).
In other news, I’ve also officially accepted a job offer. I will soon begin the next chapter of my career as a renal social worker for a dialysis clinic. I’m really excited to work with a chronically ill patient population again, though I also know that this same population will also have its own unique challenges. One of the biggest perks about the job is that it is part-time and I have the flexibility to create my own schedule. This works perfectly for many reasons. Firstly, we are soon bringing home our first puppy (August 26th!), so it will be nice to be able to work my schedule around him during housetraining. Secondly, my husband has a very non-traditional work schedule, so having flexibility in my own schedule means we will be able to maximize our time together. Finally, another perk to having such a flexible schedule and being part-time means that I will have more freedom when it comes to traveling. It’ll be nice to not have to dip into my PTO for an extended weekend trip.
My start date for my new job is August 3rd. I’m quite excited, though also pretty nervous, considering it’s been nearly 7 months since I left my last job. That big of a gap feels pretty intimidating, especially considering that I will be the only social worker at my clinic. I keep wondering if I’ve forgotten how to social work. I’m trying to talk myself out of being nervous, but sometimes I have moments where I worry that I pretty much won’t remember anything. I’ve made it a mission to spend the next two weeks researching dialysis and renal social work, so let’s hope I soak it all up like a sponge. Luckily, my training includes 80 hours of preceptorship, so that’s helping me to feel a bit more at ease with the world of the unknown. Here’s to a new chapter!
When I found out that my husband and I would be relocating for his new job, I knew that I would have to get re-licensed as a social worker in our new home, the state of Wisconsin. What I didn’t realize, however, was exactly how challenging that process might be.
Not only has the process proved to be quite expensive, it has also been time consuming and at times very frustrating. In April, I finally mustered up the courage to take my clinical ASWB exam, and fortunately, I passed! Unfortunately, it was not quite yet the time to put away my study materials. The state of Wisconsin actually has a state-specific exam over state statutes and other regulations that all social workers must pass before obtaining their certification or licensure.
Even though this exam isn’t as “big” as the ASWB exam, it still isn’t exactly a cakewalk. Having only 40 questions to answer is a relief, but not so much when a passing score is the minimum of an 85%, and if failed, you have to pay another exam fee of $75, as well as endure a specific waiting period until the new testing information is available. Talk about pressure.
As with my ASWB exam, I felt hesitant to submit my exam for scoring. Luckily, I passed with a score of 93%, which was such a relief. I was almost certain I would be shelling out even more money to the state of Wisconsin.
Now that I’ve conquered exam number two, the only pending item I’m still waiting on is for the State of Michigan to mail back my license verification forms to the Wisconsin Board. Once that is taken care of, my APSW Certification should finally be in my hands, hopefully within just another few short weeks! What a process, huh? I’ll certainly be thankful once it’s all over.
I used to be terrified of interviews. Just the thought of having to sit in front of a potential employer and “sell myself” was enough to send me into an anxiety-induced frenzy. Luckily, I’ve had enough interviews over the past month or so that I no longer feel panicked or anxious at the thought of them. It’s been a great opportunity to practice and many times I now feel genuinely excited to share what I have to offer.
So, a little update about my current job search. You may remember that I ultimately made the decision to turn down my first job offer, simply because it truly didn’t feel like the right fit. I unfortunately wasn’t offered the position that I wanted at the other hospital. Even though I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed, the interview still went really well, and I now know that it would be an employer that I would be interested in working for in the future should the opportunity arise.
Since then, I’ve had a few more interviews. One was for a position in the emergency department, though the commute was extremely far and I ultimately decided it wouldn’t work out (Wisconsin in the winter? That just sounds scary). The other position is for dialysis, and I was actually just called in for a second interview for next week. I have a really good feeling about this one, and the patient population sounds incredibly interesting.
My job hunt continues, though I’m happy to report I’m having much more success than my first job hunt post-grad. What I’ve learned from this experience is that the interview process is just as much for me as it is for prospective employers. Never in my life had I imagined I would turn down a job offer, but I now also know that finding a good fit professionally is of utmost importance. As I always say, we spend too much of our lives at work to be unhappy. Just do what you love and love what you do. Sometimes it really is that simple.
The past 24 hours have brought me some big news, with even bigger decisions to make. Firstly, I was offered the full-time salaried position I interviewed for last week. While I was flattered for the offer, I oddly did not feel excited. I’ve had this feeling in the back of my mind that maybe this just wasn’t the right fit… but what other choice did I have? Should I really turn down a full-time position, that is offering me a fairly competitive salary? I ultimately told them that I was still interested, but would like to take some time to consider and explore other opportunities.
This morning, I went to my other interview at the other hospital. I didn’t really have many—or any—particular expectations, so I went in with an open mind. I left the interview with a smile on my face, a bounce in my step, and a sense of excitement for the potential opportunities it could bring. Of course, now I have to wait for a decision on their end. Last night I was agonizing over whether or not to tell them I had another offer pending. I ultimately decided it would depend on how the interview was going. If it was going well, I would disclose this information, as I felt it wouldn’t necessarily hurt me, and it could help me find a way to show how interested I am in the position. If not, well, then there wouldn’t be much need. It went incredibly well, so I offered the following:
“In no way do I want to rush the process, but I just wanted to take the time to disclose that I currently have another offer pending. After interviewing today, I feel that this position is a much better fit for me professionally, and I am really excited to see where this opportunity takes me, depending on your final decision”.
I felt this was well perceived. It also felt good to have one last opportunity to leave on a positive note, letting them know I’m excited. Nothing shows more interest than basically saying “Hey! I’ll choose you over them!”. Yes, I would choose them over the others, and—surprise!—it has nothing to do with the salary.
The position I interviewed for today is a casual/contingent position where I would be working two days a week on average, maybe less, maybe more. No guaranteed salary, no benefits, and no set schedule. You must think I’m crazy, because seriously, why would anyone do that? Here’s why.
I was completely miserable at my last job. I took the job at the time because I had no other choice, and I desperately needed the income. I learned from that experience that being miserable at work is not worth it, and I vowed to never settle for another job again. Yes, the full-time position would offer me a guaranteed competitive salary. The competing hospital pays even more hourly, however, so if I moved into a full-time position eventually (which is likely), I would have a higher salary anyway. Regardless, this has little to nothing to do with salary, because even if the rate of pay was equal or less, I would still choose this hospital over the other.
The biggest factors at play here are happiness and opportunity.
For simplicity’s sake, let’s call the full-time position Company X and the casual position Company Y. Despite being a casual position, Company Y provides me with room for growth and professional development. They have many part-time and full-time positions opening up. Additionally, they offer far more continuing education opportunities than Company X. I also have more varied options in terms of the patient populations and settings I work in. Company Y has a recently new NICU, inpatient rehab, outpatient clinics, inpatient/outpatient oncology units and clinics, just to name a few. Company X would not provide me with as many of these opportunities or this kind of potential for such a varied experience. The work environment at Company Y just seemed overall more positive and inviting, as well.
Sometimes, I truly believe you just get a hunch. I felt I connected better with the supervisors and staff at Company Y than Company X, and overall, I felt I would be much happier there, both personally and professionally. I can’t explain it really other than to say: it just felt so right. So yes, you may still believe I am crazy to turn down that salaried position. However, does money buy a better working environment? More supportive staff? More professional opportunities? At the surface level, it would appear that I’m taking the smaller offer, but in reality, it is the offer with more gains and returns in the long run, monetary and otherwise. It will make me happier and it will provide me with a more promising future as a professional.
So, all of this assuming I am offered the position. If I’m not, I’m fairly certain I would still turn down the salaried offer from Company X, as it’s just not worth it to compromise my happiness. I’m anxious to just know for sure, and I will of course be waiting here in agony until I have my answer. I truly am so excited for this job, and I can’t think of the last time I was this excited about a career opportunity. I just have to trust that everything works out as it’s meant to… What will be, will be.
Have you ever had to juggle multiple job interviews and/or offers? What kinds of difficult decisions did you have to make? How did you know it was the right decision? Share in the comments!
Yesterday I managed to survive my first interview in about a year, whew! It’s funny how nervous I always am before these type of things, and then the interview turns out not to be all that nerve-wracking after all. Overall, it was a great opportunity to learn more about the position I applied for. Unfortunately, I found that the initial job description was slightly misleading. The hospital I applied to work for is split into two major sections: the general hospital and the children’s hospital. The job description listed all populations, so I had assumed it would be a float position in which I would rotate between different areas in both pediatrics and the general hospital. However, I can now only assume that this is a general or generic job description that the company provides for all social work positions, as my interviewers clarified that this position is specifically for the MedSurg/Orthopedic floors in the adult general hospital. Of course I am happy to work with adults, as well, but it was a little disappointing considering I was going into the interview with the idea that this job would allow me to work with the pediatric patient population, as well.
Nevertheless, I felt the interview went extremely well. I’m not sure when I will hear back from the hospital regarding their decision, but even if I’m not offered the position, it was an excellent opportunity to practice my interviewing skills again. In other good news, I now have another interview set-up, as well! It’s for a contingent position at another hospital, and my interview will be next Thursday. The only tricky thing now will be juggling potential offers. Life is good.
Sometimes I feel hesitant to announce good news before anything is completely set in stone. However, I am over-the-moon excited about a present career opportunity, and even if it doesn’t end up working out, I know I’ll still be grateful for the chance to test out the waters of social work again.
So, what’s the big news? I have an interview for a job that I truly feel excited and passionate about! It’s been a long time since I’ve felt really excited about the field, as I felt burnt out at my last job and did not feel fulfilled by my work. After much debate, I finally took the plunge and applied for a full-time social work position at a local children’s hospital. The reason for my initial reluctance is that my husband and I had a long discussion about how taking on a traditional full-time job might impact our lives, considering his very non-traditional work schedule. We originally agreed that a contingent position would be perfect, as I would be better able to work my hours around his. However, when this opportunity presented itself, I felt passionate and excited again. We ultimately decided that having happiness and fulfillment is of utmost importance, and that we would work through whatever challenges that arise as a result. If anything, our conflicting work schedules will make us appreciate the time we have together even more.
So, I took the plunge and submitted my application. The next day, I was contacted by the company’s recruiter to schedule a time for a phone interview screening. My appointment was today, and it must have went quite well, because the recruiter has decided to offer to bring me in to meet with the hiring case manager, the social work supervisor, and other social work colleagues. For so long I’ve dreamed of working in a children’s hospital again, just as I did for my internship, and it makes me happy that this feels like it could potentially be such a great fit for me professionally.
I am so grateful and excited for this opportunity ahead. A part of me is a little nervous, as it’s been quite some time since I’ve had an interview, and I really need to reflect on my case examples. Of course I’m hoping for the best, but even if this opportunity doesn’t work out, it will at least be good practice. My interview is on Tuesday, so I will certainly provide any and all updates. I’m really excited to learn more about the position, and I hope that they will view me as a strong candidate and an asset to their team. Wish me luck!
Oh my, I’ve been on quite the hiatus… more than 3 weeks! I suppose time flies when you’re busy and having fun. In case you’re wondering what sort of shenanigans I’ve been up to, I was away spending some much … Continue reading
I’m just going to cut straight to the chase because I am so freaking excited. I’d even go as far to say I’m on Cloud 9.
I took the ASWB Clinical Exam today… and PASSED.
So, you may have noticed I’ve been quite absent from the blogging world lately, and that is the reason why. For the past 3 weeks, I’ve been hiding under a rock in an anxiety-induced study frenzy. Well, okay, the past week I admit that I was so overwhelmed that I did what I do best in those situations… shut down, of course! Yes, when things get so overwhelmingly stressful that I feel I can’t even cope, I do tend to just ignore the problem and pretend it simply doesn’t exist. Yeah, not my finest trait, but at least I’m acknowledging it, right? Baby steps, guys.
Anyway, luckily I do have some redeeming qualities. On my drive down to the testing center today, I spent the whole two hours doing some mindfulness and relaxation techniques… which primarily consisted of a lot of deep breathing and talking to myself. Whatever works, yes?
Clearly, my pep talk must have worked some magic, because it all turned out okay in the end. I will say, though, I can think of few things scarier than submitting your exam to be scored. I remember wondering if I was sure that I was ready to submit my exam… are you kidding me, of course I wasn’t sure! What if I was just one correct question away from passing? After reviewing the exam to its fullest extent, I decided I had no choice but to bite the bullet. It was nauseating.
It got better, though, when I saw the word “Congratulations!” pop up on the screen. What-a-relief!
So yes, today was a great day. An uber-super-fantastic day. However, my brain is now mush, 4-hour exams will do that to you. But I am oh so happy.
If anyone is taking the ASWB exam in the future and would like free study resources, let me know and I can provide you with the ones I used to prepare for my exam. My biggest piece of advice to keep taking practice tests, it’s the best way to study!
Disclaimer: The information I am providing was NOT obtained from any ASWB Exams, as required per the ASWB Exam Candidate Rules and Confidentiality Agreement.