New Year, New Life


(Photo from Fortwayne. com)

In some ways, I feel like the short story character Rip Van Winkle in the sense that he fell asleep, and when he woke up, he was experiencing a whole new world. For example, it is hard for me to imagine that summer is over and I am now well into the fall semester. As the 2013 spring semester ended, I made a list of what I wanted to accomplish over the summer, in an effort to be the organized student I dream of becoming. However, true to the life of a non-traditional student, life happened and took my nice organized list with it. After a summer of fast events, I can hardly imagine that I am now one month into my academic year and field study. In addition to which, how can it be that I am at the end of my four year program and am completing my final field internship?

 Even more unbelievable for me, is having the opportunity to experience life as a clinical social worker in a medical setting. Coming from a corporate background, I had no idea I could be a clinical social worker, and I absolutely love it! This year, my field placement is at the Emergency Department Duke University Hospital, fondly referred to as the ED. I keep asking myself, “is this my life”? This year’s ED placement interconnects my 2012-13 academic training, my field internship last school year, and my course work this year. My 2012-13 academic studies exposed me to concepts, such as “starting where the client is,” how to conduct a mental status exam, and how to use empathy to build rapport with clients. My field internship last school year introduced me to domestic violence and provided me with a framework from which to establish rapport with women in trauma. This year’s Health: Theory and Practice classroom material is helping me develop my medical language and how to effectively work with patients and their families in what is often times the most critical time of their lives.

On the other hand, it is only the middle of September, and I have learned so much in the ED. These experiences include a spectrum of grief and loss from a family losing a loved one through trauma to a family losing a loved one to a terminal disease. This ED assignment has already included performing psychosocial assessments and collecting research data from patients struggling with sickle cell disease and the ways in which the affects of this disease are misunderstood. The realization that I am working with people who are entrusting me and my medical counterparts with their lives is a humbling experience!

If this is not my new world, and I am only dreaming, please do not wake me. 🙂


About Theresa Bayless

Candidate M.Div/MSW, Direct Practice, Final Year
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