Friday, March 19, 2010

Celebrate National Social Work Month

In honor of Professional Social Work Month, we sat down with Jennifer Gandel Kachura Neonatal Intensive Care Unit social worker Erin Gillard, LCSW-C. Erin is one of the many dedicated social workers in the LifeBridge Health system, and spends her days helping families with pre-term infants.

Q: Why did you choose a career in social work?

I've always had an interest in helping people and being an advocate. Social work was a natural fit. You are empowering people to find their own inner resources.

Q: What's an average day for you like in the NICU?

I meet with the families of babies who are newly admitted. I talk to them about their support system, and can connect them to the proper people or groups. There can be a range of psychosocial issues for families, ranging from helping teen parents to someone with a mental health or substance abuse problem. I run a support group twice a month for families of babies in the NICU. I spend the afternoons connecting with family members that I may miss during the day. During the week I spend 30 hours in the NICU and 10 hours on obstetric coverage. I spend as much time with a family as necessary.

Q: How long do you work with families?

I have babies who are here for 24 hours and babies who are here for months. But even when the infants go home, we keep in touch with the families. That's one of the reasons for our NICU reunion next month - it gives people a chance to get together and reflect on what was a critical time in their lives.

Q: What's the biggest challenge of being a social worker?

It can be frustrating to help families navigate the red tape around issues like insurance.

Q: What's the best part?

It's a privilege that people allow you into their lives at such a difficult time. And every day is different. It's a good feeling when you can support someone. Having a baby is such a special time and people really rally. You often see people at their best.

To see job opportunities at LifeBridge Health, click here.

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