Motivation and Commitment for the Social Work Profession As I reminisce back upon my life there are many experiences and factors that have affected and shaped who I am today. If you examine Nature vs. Nurture, Ive always concluded that human expression is not just black and white, there is a definite grey area where both nature (genetics) and nurture (environment) combine. For example, childhood experiences or family dynamics can either make or break you as a person depending on whether you allow negative experiences or less than ideal environments to detrimentally affect the way in which you view the world.
You can prevail forward or stay with the natural human tendency to digress in the past but you decide how long you want that period of digression to be. My immediate family growing up was my father, stepmother, mother, and my twin brothers. My parents divorced when I was two. My mother was severely depressed; because of this I did not see her again until I was eight years old. I dont remember a lot from when I was young but I do recall my brothers and I visiting our mother under supervision in a playroom of a human services building. She explained to us that she was better and could soon keep us every other weekend.
My mother was better for a while but the depression came in cycles, sometimes she was up and other times she was down. My twin brothers were born mentally challenged on the mild spectrum. As I watched my mother and brothers struggle with trials and tribulations of life, I realized how much I enjoy helping others cope with the obstacles and barriers that can come with life, with or without a disability that brings life into another realm. Which is how I came to work with several different companies serving various populations such as, mentally challenged, mentally ill, physically disabled and Traumatic Brain Injury.
My interest in social work and psychology began as a teenager in my first psychology class my freshman year in high school. I was fascinated with how the brain works and what influences and shapes the human mind. I told my parents at this time my dream of becoming a therapist. As a teenager I always wanted to give support and give advice to my friends. I wanted to help others through their challenges. We all face challenges in life, we all have to face fear at one time or another, every challenge and fear is a chance to gain courage or strength you never knew you had inside you.
I began pursuing my bachelors degree at the age of twenty one. I attended school, work, and at the same time held up the role of single motherhood. It was testing and exhausting at times but the feeling of accomplishment at the end was well worth it. After receiving my degree I knew eventually I would want to climb further up the education ladder when I was ready. I wanted a break to gain more work experience serving others. This year I decided was the right time to look into a masters degree program.
I was fond of the multidimensional contexts mentioned in the Advanced Generalist Concentration description for the second year. It is important to learn the different levels and aspects of cultures and the influences thereof, in order to better understand and empathize with the individuals you serve as a social worker. My future career goals after I complete the program: I hope to work in a clinic or resource center for individuals with HIV and work towards further prevention and education to the public. I am going to obtain a minor in Drug and Alcohol Counseling so I can better serve this population.
After gaining some work experience to broaden my perspective and knowledge, I hope to open my own therapy practice in order to help others through their challenges and succeed in life. 2) A Social Issue of Concern A social issue of concern for me is the stigmatizing of individuals with HIV in society. As the HIV/AIDS epidemic marks its thirtieth year, you can state a lot has changed since 1981 when what was thought of as the gay plague which had symptoms similar to pneumonia and Kaposis Sarcoma, such as, fever, fatigue, rash, swollen lymph nodes, and sore throat.
Although many individuals experience no symptoms at all, feel, and appear healthy for several years. A few years later this would come to be known as HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus). Now thirty years later society, professionals, and doctors know more about HIV transmission, treatment, and prevention. Society may know more but do they know enough to keep ignorance and stigma at bay? A recent survey performed by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows substantial shares of Americans continue to express discomfort at the idea of interacting with people living with HIV.
For example 45% say theyd be uncomfortable having their food prepared by someone who is HIV-positive, 36% with having an HIV roommate, 29% having their child in a classroom with an HIV-positive teacher, and 18 percent working with someone who is HIV-positive. One statistic that does show some promise in decreasing stigma and ignorance within society is the share stating theyd be very comfortable working with someone who has HIV increased from about a third in 1997 to roughly half in 2011. (www. kff. org/kaiserpolls[->0]) Unfortunately other results show the public is still ignorant about modes of transmission of HIV.
The KFF survey also shows that over the past twenty years, roughly one in four Americans have continued to either believe that one can get HIV from a drinking glass, or remain unsure whether it is the case. What do these statistics tell about stigma and ignorance within the general public? It says that potentially stigmatizing and discriminating attitudes still persist. There are a few factors that I believe led to this outcome, 1) The public is not being educated enough in the schools, television, and doctors offices and hospitals are prime places where we can get the information out there. ) More doctors are suggesting HIV tests for non-elderly, 29% but so far it doesnt translate into an increase in reports of actually getting an HIV test. About one in five non-elderly adults say they have been tested for HIV in the past 12 months which is a percentage that has held steady since 1997. 3) The information about how HIV is contracted and testing routes/sites needs to get out not to just high-risk population but to the general population as well. Although society discriminates, HIV itself does not discriminate. (statistics obtained from: www. kff. rg/kaiserpolls) 1. Society Response When speaking of HIV in general, people get defensive and uncomfortable. This is where peer advocacy at testing sites, community education sites, and in the clinics/hospitals is vital because those living with HIV can share their stories and show others the different types of people that contract HIV. So a face can be put with the virus, show others that you cant tell who has HIV by looking at someone. Also, a belief that comes into play is that if you talk about sex, even safe sex, that people will be encouraged to have more of it.
In reality the opposite rings true. The more that educators and hospital professionals talk about safe sex and STDs, the more comfortable others are talking with their sex partners on the subject. The more you know about a topic, the more confident you feel to discuss it with others. 3) Personal Strengths, Skills, Knowledge, Qualities and Limitations Ive always had an altruistic personality, compassion for others, ability to empathize with external and internal human struggles. In high school I enjoyed giving advice and being the sympathetic ear to my friends.
Growing older, I enjoyed listening to and talking with mature adults at work with every day contact I gained more knowledge about their life experience. I was always fascinated when discussing the way they handled their trials and tribulations. I always had a thirst for knowledge whether it is the spoken words of others, reading books, enjoying new experiences, or researching online. Some professionals who receive vast education, or are in their chosen profession for a long time, come to believe they have learned it all. They get stuck in a rut like doctors treating numbers, not treating the patient.
I dont believe I will ever get to that place in my career. At the start and at the end of the day, you need to remember your purpose for yourself and for others. Its innate for all of us to need human experience, to be loved and accepted, to feel needed, to make others happy. In summary, a thirst for human knowledge, an understanding that society and people are forever changing, the ability to empathize with others, and the human experience in general, is what makes an effective social worker. One of my limitations is that I often underestimate myself.
Because of that I put limitations on myself that dont need to be there. I let fear of success get in the way of success. However, Ive come to realize this and I do my best to strive further and not give up. There are always obstacles in life whether it is emotional, physical, or environmental. One must learn to get around them, work with them, or run right through them. 4) Ethics and Values My personal values are seen in the work I have chosen to do throughout my life. Ive worked with the mentally challenged, mentally ill, and physically challenged individuals for many years.
I believe no matter what the differences and limitations are, we as human beings all deserve respect, dignity, and the same opportunities that all Americans are provided. The right to vote, obtain an education, right to work, to serve in the community, have resources available, and to live and experience life to its fullest; are rights and privileges we all have. Some do not realize how in the past those that differ from the norm have had to fight and struggle for these rights, many had to experience anguish, despair, and isolation when institutionalization was standard and no rights were given to these individuals.
In 1955 the institutions were slowly shutdown for the most part and deinstitutionalization became the standard. The mentally challenged, physically disabled and mentally ill were more accepted and integrated into the community, the educational system, into paid work and vocational positions, the government and state provided adaptions so they could gain access to the community and use their rights. There is always more work to do.
The general public has little concept of how significant the population of disabled individuals is, more educating to the public needs to be put into place on how prevalent physical, intellectual, and mental disorders are, for example, the CDC reported 1 in 110 children in the United States have an Autism spectrum disorder, 13% of children have a developmental disability and the last count in 1993 the CDC found 1. 5 million children and adults ages 6-64 had intellectual disabilities.
As a social worker one will work with people from all walks of life, characters, belief systems, religion, culture, race, and value systems. Also depending on these factors, the issues individuals deal with in their day to day lives will vary. You have to put your ego and your own beliefs that may be different from theirs aside and take your profession seriously, but dont take yourself too seriously. Put the person youre serving first and remember the service youre providing, whatever your field may be.
People will come in with conflicting beliefs, religions, and backgrounds, but unless you have walked in their shoes its not for you to judge or change their mind. However, you are required to report incidents such as, abuse, homicidal and suicidal intentions (if there is a plan set out). You are there to offer help with resources and advice on the use of those resources available to the individual. 5) Meaningful Volunteer and/or Work experience For the year of 2007 I worked for Quality Living Inc. in Omaha, Nebraska, this is a rehab facility specializing in TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) and Spinal Cord Injury.
Never having worked with this population, it was an eye opening experience to see several people go from living an independent life, to losing the ability to walk or go to the bathroom, losing the ability to speak, process thoughts, control of their muscles, having to relearn everything and not fully gain back certain skills. Also teaching and helping struggling families gain skills to cope and work with their loved ones as well. One tough situation among many was a family with a seventeen year old daughter who was ran over by a vehicle at night; she had a TBI and was in a comma.
I watched the family by her side and praying for her to wake up every day. This hit close to my heart because I have a daughter as well and I thought to myself how heartbroken I would be if that happened to her. You are reminded of how valuable life is and how important the moments are that you spend with those you love. I had never assisted people who were in such extensive need of various services. The individuals attended physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and relearning everyday living skills to gain back the skills they lost.
I didnt know the need for this service was so extensive. There are few facilities like it which specialize in TBI and SCI. There are rehabilitation hospitals who offer similar therapies and resources but not to this extent and not as individualized. The creator of Quality Living was one person and a community of families with loved ones who have TBI and/or Spinal Cord Injury who werent getting the services they desperately needed. Working with the individuals and those who work for them, reminded me of the power and perseverance of the human spirit to overcome any obstacle. ) Cultural Diversity Experience a. I have some experience working with diverse cultures. I worked as a nursing assistant in various facilities, nursing homes, group homes, and hospitals, assisting with personal care and daily living. Working with the elderly you see how people come from different backgrounds and how it affects who they are today. You also see how dementia and Alzheimers affects the brain and physical function. As I went over before, I worked with individuals with physical and mental disabilities; I still do to this day.
I gained a lot of patience and understanding from this work. You come across various behaviors that can be aggressive, violent, emotional, and this will challenge you emotionally and intellectually as well. This will also at times drain you physically and emotionally. At the end of the day you get these reminders: a friendship gained, a smile, a thank you, an apology, a new experience, being able to teach someone and help someone. You see youve made a difference despite the difficult days that come and go. b.
I have not had professional experience working with many different ethnicities and/or nationalities. However, I have had personal experience with friendships and co-workers of various national origins such as, Africa, Persia, Mexico, India, Ecuador, Haiti, Columbia, France, Portugal and Britain. I myself love learning about different cultures, their views, beliefs, traditions, history, and food of course, its all very fascinating to me. c. I am most comfortable working with those my age or between 20-40 years of age because I can more easily relate and be at the same level maturity and intellect.
I also am comfortable with those who have disabilities and mental illnesses, having professional and personal experience with this population I am more apt to see the person, not just their disability. d. After careful thought there is not a population I am uncomfortable working with. 7. ) Social Support and Financial Plan I plan on applying for school loans and scholarships. As well as meeting with the financial assistance and scholarship offices. Currently my husband and I are looking into starting a non-profit shelter for female veterans out of our home.
We have already begun contacting individuals within The National Veterans Wellness and Healing Center which host retreats for veteran couples and also works constantly on assisting veterans with obtaining the resources that are available to them. While I am at school and doing work credit hours my husband will take care of the business, along with our business partners we will also hire extra people to assist us with running the business. I am very excited about this endeavor and feel my further education with New Mexico State would contribute a great deal to this and future endeavors. [->0] – http://www. kff. org/kaiserpolls