Defining Palliative Care Social Work: Moving the Needle

Many of us, as palliative care social workers, have been thinking about how we can best describe what we do as clinicians, researchers, educators, within our medical institutions. In the setting of so many changes that have happened to medical social workers and case management over the past years, the social worker on the palliative care team are often caught between two or more worlds! These worlds and descriptions don’t always have the capacity to stretch and grow as the PC-CSW role has grown over the years. That has been our experience.

SWHPN Board Member Vickie Leff, LCSW, BCD is trying to change that, in the hope that we can help each other, learn from each other, and elevate the level of understanding of PC-CSW in hospital systems. At Duke, Vickie, along with Kristen Lakis, LCSW, Pediatric QoL Team, is working on not only developing new job descriptions that encompass the psychosocial, program, research, etc. that we do, but also reflect a vision for professional development both on the team and in the field. 

In an attempt to gather information for this important project, we'd like to hear from palliative care social workers who work in hospitals about:

  • What is your title?
  • Which department pays your salary, provides management?
  • Do you have a job description that you feel adequately represents all you do?
  • Are you providing program oversight or development? Research?

Leave a comment here, or reach out to Vickie or Kristen directly!

We greatly appreciate all your time and wisdom, and will share our information with our SWHPN members as we develop our roles. Our hope is to create pathways for clinical and professional growth which can be acknowledged and supported in the behemoth hospital system.

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