Saturday, July 24, 2010

A "Typical" Day at Work

I don't know if there is any such thing as a typical day as I never really know what to expect each day when I enter the hospital. But many of you have asked me what I do and how I like my new job so I'll try to answer those questions here.

I'm a clinical social worker for all the medical units in the hospital. I cover the ICU, 3 medical floors, the surgical unit and the ER if needed. There is a separate social worker for maternal services and 3 for Psych. Then ME for the rest - haha!! (There is another part time social worker who helps me out 3 afternoons a week but her main responsibilities are at another one of our hospitals.)

This is my office. This is where I start my day each morning. When I get to work I do the normal stuff - check voice mail and email. They I sign into Meditech and check my "status board" which is where the patients I'm following are listed. I read notes from the night shift and see how everyone is doing. Then I print out the hospital census which tells me all the patients for each of the floors I cover. I go through and circle the people I am following. I then check the printer to see if I have any new referrals.

Then I either head upstairs or kill some time in my office. I often take a stroll to the cafe to see what they have for breakfast and when they have bacon I might just have to get a few slices (shhhh don't tell anyone - I always eat healthy!)

Then I head up to the floors to check to go to rounds. I usually go to rounds on 4 everyday. On Tues and Thur I then go to rounds in the ICU after I go to 4. On the other days I go to rounds on 5 after 4. So the morning is usually pretty busy. During rounds I get updates on all the patients and get referrals for who needs a social worker that day. I then plan out who needs to be seen first.

I get referrals for all kinds of things - most often it is for brief counseling and support which is my favorite kind of referral. I also get referrals for a bunch of other random things - alcoholics, drug abusers, homelessness, mental health problems, family issues, etc.

So let me give you a few examples of patients I've seen this week.

  • A 58 year old man admitted for pancreatitis who has been an alcoholic for 10 to 15 years. He has hidden his drinking from everyone including his wife so needless to say she was in shock. I met with them to help them process everything that was happening. I provided them resources for AA, outpatient rehab, counseling, etc. I also met w/ the patient alone to do some counseling. He was ashamed and ready to get help - no denial - such a nice man who I really hope can get sober.
  • A 70 year old woman admitted to the ICU for respiratory issues among other things. Her 55 year old son died 2 weeks ago from an overdose, her daughter has social phobia, her other son is bipolar and in a psych hospital and her other daughter has an rare auto-immune disease that makes it impossible for her to work. So I was working with the daughter to provide support and counseling to her. She was dealing w/ A LOT!!! She doesn't have a car and couldn't come into the hospital during the day so I did the counseling over the phone. The patient has had other complications during the stay including paranoia, confusing, r/o strok and question dementia. It is all very sad.
  • A 70 year old man admitted for complications with COPD and recent lung cancer diagnosis. This patient is also suffering from many other medical problems and schizophrenia as well as other mental health problems. He lives independently and does pretty well for himself considering all he is dealing with. He has no family but is connected to a local mental health organization where he has a WONDERFUL case manager. This patient is the sweetest man and is just now processing that he is going to die. Hospice is now involved and he will be discharged to a hospice house where he will live out his days. I met with him daily this week to provide support and worked closely with his case manager.
Those are just some examples. I can often be following up to 10 patients at a time and they can all be for different reasons. The good thing about this is that my days are always different. I really enjoy that part of it. I also like the short term work more than I thought I would. I loved the long term work I did in adoption and I thought I would have a hard time adjusting to short term work (especially with mostly elderly patients) but I am really enjoying it. I also like the old people way more than I thought I would! Haha!

I do miss adoption and all of my adoptive families a lot. But I don't miss the stress associated with that job (or the crazy hours). I never thought I would say this but working in a hospital is WAY less stressful.

I really like the people I work with. Since I don't work closely with any other social workers I mostly am in contact with nurses, case managers and nutrition during the day. People are really nice and I already feel like I fit in and have made friends which is great. Community hospitals are big enough to see a variety of cases but small enough to know a lot of people and feel part of a team. I eat lunch everyday with a great group of people and the cafeteria food is pretty good (and cheap)!

So hopefully that gives you a better idea of what I do all day. If you have other questions feel free to leave a comment and ask. I love comments! :)


  1. i am glad you posted this, now i finally know what you do! i am glad you are enjoying it so much and have met some great co-workers, just like you did with me at riverside :)

  2. sounds like you're really doing well. we'll have to have dinner some nite so i can hear more about it.

  3. A less stressful job seems like heaven!! - To enjoy your work is something most folks never get to do..

    If you have time ..check out my blog