By S. Jolene Hui, MSW, LCSW
NASW-CA Director of Membership
It certainly feels like the past two years have been two decades. We’ve all aged at a much more rapid rate and are all exhausted. With the pandemic and elections in the past year we were hit with additional stressors that often made it difficult to function. Nevertheless, it’s time to go back to school and social work students are boldly stepping into their programs in a rapidly changing world.
This fall, courses are still virtual at CSUDH (where I am adjunct field faculty) and I have mixed feelings about it. While I agree that staying virtual helps the spread of COVID and makes attending class more convenient, call me traditional, but I do miss seeing and interacting with my students in person. Some schools here in California are venturing into fall with in-person learning. I recently attended the resource fair at the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work where I met so many new social work students. Face to face! I was exhausted afterward! My last NASW-CA event prior to the shutdown was the Social Work Month San Jose Sharks game in March of 2020. It’s been forever and I almost forgot what it was like to engage with a mass group of people on this level.
My physical and emotional exhaustion after just one two-hour event made me think of my students stepping into their first-year internships next week. Students always have their normal anxieties about starting their first field placements – but now there are anxieties on top of their anxieties. This is my third cohort of students affected by the pandemic and each one has tackled it all with strength and resilience. Every day as social workers we are faced with challenging situations and are forced to be flexible. We are educated to meet clients where they are and treat organizations and communities the same way. We are taught to do the work on all levels, no matter is going on around us. On top of the regular stressors now we worry about getting sick, we worry about access to care for ourselves and our clients, we worry about who is vaccinated and who is not…the list goes on…and on…and on….
Recent updates to the NASW Code of Ethics included self-care language. As we are taught throughout our schooling, we need to take care of ourselves, personally and professionally. We often find it hard to do when we are working difficult jobs in not always the most ideal settings. The self-care changes are aspirational and should be a standard for how we care for ourselves as we move through our careers. It’s important to start this practice early on as a student to build it into the structure of your life. Hopefully it will be built into the structure of society as well one day.
I’m continually impressed by social work students and their willingness to really leap into the work we do. Jumping into the unknown is never comfortable, but sometimes you must do it. That first-year placement is one of those times. Second year as well, you’re just a little more prepared by that point. Good luck this year! Take care of yourselves. Reach out to us if you need anything and…JUMP!
(But don’t forget to wear a mask, sanitize often, and get vaccinated!)
S. Jolene Hui, LCSW, is NASW-CA’s Director of Membership and is also part-time adjunct faculty in the MSW program at California State University, Dominguez Hills where she is a generalist year field liaison. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Read the NASW Code of Ethics: https://www.socialworkers.org/About/Ethics/Code-of-Ethics/Code-of-Ethics-English
Highlighted NASW Code of Ethics Updates: https://www.socialworkers.org/About/Ethics/Code-of-Ethics/Highlighted-Revisions-to-the-Code-of-Ethics
To join NASW and become a member: https://www.socialworkers.org/nasw/join