Your Annual Review: Take The Wheel

Get reimbursement for your professional memberships, certifications, and professional development.

For many of us, it is annual review time: a time to reflect on our work with managers and supervisors, and an opportunity to remind them of the value, skills and expertise we bring to our work, our teams, and our patients.

It is also a time to request things for yourself! Although budgets are tight, it's important to advocate for yourself and your profession. Many of us do receive money for CME activities, such an professional conferences like SWHPN's.

Here are five things to do when asking your manager or supervisor for professional support:

1. List all of your clinical activities and educational efforts (including the clinical work you do with health care providers “on the fly”); and any research, QI or program development you do individually or as part of a group/team. Demonstrate how valuable you are!

2. Remind your superiors of the evidence based value of social work. Social workers not only impact the quality of patient/family care, but often the “bottom line” of the hospital, by reducing lengths of stays when we are involved in the case. We also solve problems with distressed patients and families facing complex personal and medical situations that are overwhelming their capacities, providing important communications support for the hospital and interdisciplinary team.

3. Demonstrate the importance of advanced certification. The upcoming certification of APHSW is the first and only test-based certification for social workers in the medical field, and will, hopefully, lead to billing options in the future. It is critical that we all have advanced certification in the field of Palliative Care and Hospice. Your institution can support you in this effort by paying for your SWHPN membership and APHSW registration fee. The cost for SWHPN membership of $125 annually. The cost of the upcoming certification is $275 for members/$450 for non-members – a savings of $50 for members for a total request of $400 - giving you an advanced certification and the benefits of SWHPN membership. No matter what you're requesting, always ask for the specific amount.

4. Ask for support to attend professional conferences, usually limited to one. Of course, we would love for you to attend SWHPN 2019, to be held in Orlando (as will AAHPM and HPNA), and our 2019 costs (to be announced soon!) are still far less than AAHPM and HPNA. Between registration, travel and accommodations, $1,500 is a reasonable request to start with.

At our first event in 2012, less than 50% of SWHPN conference attendees received support from their institutions/hospices to attend; this year, that number has jumped to almost 80%! More and more participants are receiving support from their employers.

In many/most medical institutions and hospices it is standard to provide continuing education and membership fee money to MD’s and NP’s. It should be the same for social work. We are a valued member of the team and do important clinical, educational, and program work.

The time of your annual review is a great time to bring up these requests. Advocate for yourself and your professional development!

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