Summer 2011

Rewards of Social Work

At present, approximately 13.7 million Americans are unemployed, 46.3 million have no health insurance and 43.6 million live in poverty (the largest number in 51 years). The human want fueled by these realities will be exacerbated by immense budget cuts to social service programs. The need for social services, already at historic proportions, will increase significantly. Accordingly, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected that employment prospects for social workers are expected to be favorable, particularly for those who specialize in the aging population or work in rural areas.

Because social service programs are underfunded, a few social workers juggle the work of many. A Nov. 2009 CNNMoney.com headline depicted social work as one of its "stressful jobs," reaping little reward, noting that "social workers step in when everyone else steps aside."

Work performed by social workers might legitimately be called divine, as the Bible directs us to tend to others' interests. As is typical of heavenly callings, the work performed by social workers is challenging. The miracle is not that social workers do what they do, but that they are happy to do it.

My experiences and personal research support the idea that those who enter the profession are compassionate, benevolent folks who prefer to pursue a charitable rather than profit-making purpose. However, being selfless is not wholly sufficient to the cause of helping others. Social work, an academic discipline committed to the pursuit of social welfare, social justice, and social change, requires a defined "profession specific" skill set.

A 30+ year social work veteran, I hold three degrees from Marywood—BSW, MSW and Ph.D. in Human Development/Social Work specialization. I can state unequivocally that my Marywood education has served me well.
While the work may be challenging, I disagree that it is unrewarding. There is a belief that pursuing one's own self-interest means trampling on the interests of others. When one's self interest is the welfare of others, as it is with social workers, it's a win/win situation.

Charles R. Bacinelli, Ph.D., LSW, ACSW, a lecturer in the School of Social Work is currently employed by Home Healthcare Professionals & Hospice, Eynon, PA.

For more information on the School of Social Work: www.marywood.edu/ssw/

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