Anticipating a Social Work placement in Health

I am presently anticipating hosting my first student in many years. I work part time for Health and there are room shortages and of course I’m busy but I thought it was about time, after all I’m always looking for student placements as part of my academic role.

Well I’ve met this young woman, a mature age student with a young family ready for her first prac. Social Work in Community Health is a fabulous job, but also an excellent prac opportunity. My own last prac was in community health and I was fortunate to accede to the position when the encombant resigned.

In many small towns,  the same social worker provides both the hospital and the community based service and this is my situation. I find myself reflecting quite a bit on plans for this student, and am surprised to find myself quite excited. Her main role will be in the hospital where I will have her practise basic engagement skills and consider the psycho-social assessment. I’m interested in her looking at a variety of formats from different hospitals and doing some critical thinking about its place in hospital social work practice. My own univiersity requires first prac students to demonstrate competence in assessment as part of the pass criteria for prac one.

I will also invite her to visit my community development project – a place based service initiative for homeless and other low income people. From there we provide wound dressing, flu injections and vitamin B supplements. Until recently Centrelink used to attend and ensure everyone was receiving appropriate benefits, or problem solve their Centrelink issues. What a loss the retreat of Centrelink back to the centre is. Our new  ‘community liaison’ is now based so far away he can never attend. Similarly, we used to have an aboriginal health worker attend but redrawn service areas means the new service provider for that is also too far away. Ah dear.

I will invite the student to sit in on a couple of sessions with me, with permission of carefully chosen people, and finally, I’d like to introduce her to research as a basic feature of social work practice. I have a range of options to offer; looking at issues of people who present to ED regularly, or who are re-admitted soon after discharge, looking at data about hospital referrals to social work, pursuing the psycho-social assessment more deeply, or something she develops herself that arises out of the prac. Roll on February!

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