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In a social worker's shoes

March 1, 2016 Wellness Articles By Elizabeth Bland, MSW, LCSW

These clogs.

I looked down while in a meeting the other day, horrified at the condition of these clogs. Horribly ragged, scuffed all over. “It’s time for a new pair,” I thought.

As I drove home that evening, my mind wandered back to those clogs. Just when did they get so worn?

The memories came flooding back. It was over 13 years ago. I was a social work intern at a city hospital. I was excited. I was proud. I told anyone who would listen, “I’m a social worker.”

I loved the patients. I loved the pager. I loved the badge. I loved the flurry of activity, day and night. I loved the hospital clogs everyone on staff wore. I saved my pennies to purchase a pair of them. I remember walking down the hallway after they arrived feeling my career had officially begun because I finally looked the part. Dorothy had her red glitter shoes, I had my black patent leather clogs and I felt like I was home.

Looking at these worn clogs, I’m magically transported back over my career in this field; running in them after receiving emergency pages; receiving smiles and thankful words from grateful patients and families; leaning in them to hold up patients after delivering difficult news; sitting silently while moms share just how difficult the last few months have been; standing in them to take an extra breathe for myself on particularly challenging days. The families who have sent cards of appreciation, those who have given me hugs in times of thanks, that pediatric patient who called me “cool” after not being willing to open up to anyone.

And, trust me, it’s not just me. Ask any social worker in health care and they’ll tell you similar stories about hope and love and the tough but meaningful role we’ve played in patients’ lives.

In honor of Social Work Month, I extend my very best wishes and congratulations to my fellow social workers on another year of a job well done. I am proud to be among you all. I encourage you to stand in your own shoes to take a moment to give yourselves a silent high-five for all you have done over the last year and all you’ll do in the year to come.

Liz Bland, MSW, LCSW is the director of the Main Line Health’s Women’s Emotional Wellness Center and a proud social worker. Visit our website for more information on the Women’s Emotional Wellness Center and join the WEWC Facebook group for daily updates.