One of the things that I love about the social work profession is the versatility of the field. There is so much that can be done with a social work degree. Gather a bunch of social workers in a room and ask them to talk about their work and job titles and you will get diverse answers. One of the things that can drive me nuts about the social work profession is the versatility of the field.
I remember my first day in Foundations I. The professor started off by asking for a definition of social work. What we leaned is that there is no clear way to define what social work or what a social worker does. That is great. I love that there are so many options, but at the same time it makes things very difficult. When I tell someone I’m a social worker they have no idea what I do. Many think I’m a therapist. The other day I was discussing the progress of my job search with my mothers friend and she thought the only place social workers are employed are in were public schools. Others assume we only work for Child Protective Services.
This inability to clearly define our profession has lead to a public relations problem. The NASW has been trying for years now to get social work represented in the media. They have a whole committee working on getting the profession in the spot light and to make sure that when a TV show or film features a character that is a social worker that the profession is portrayed accurately. Sometimes I feel like we are invisible. No one notices or talks about social workers besides other social workers. This leads to social workers being at the bottom of the totem pole among the helping professions.
We are the worst paid and (I’ll argue) the least respected of the helping professions. We have fewer options for loan forgiveness programs. The last time I checked social workers are only eligible for loan forgiveness if they are working as clinicians with under served populations. Now I agree with the idea of encouraging social workers to work with under severed population but I find it ridiculous that only those engaged in clinical work are eligible. Not all of us are in mental health.