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March is Professional Social Work Month

Did you know? March is Professional Social Work Month! Throughout this month, we’d like to introduce you to a few of our social workers from across Buckner ministries. We hope you enjoy getting to know them and getting a glimpse into the world of social work.

We are so grateful for the work Buckner social workers do each day for the children, families and elders we serve.

Today, meet Leticia White, a social worker with Buckner Hospice in Houston, Texas. Leticia has been working with Buckner since July 2013. She graduated from the University of Houston Graduate College of Social work in May 2013, and working at Buckner has been her first job in the social work field.

What prompted you to go into this profession?

When I turned 30 years old, I started on a journey of psychological and spiritual awakening. During the journey, I began volunteering at a hospice and going on mission trips. I discovered that my greatest joy was when I was making a personal difference in people’s lives. I’ve always been an advocate for the underdog. Social work pays particular attention to the needs of the most vulnerable and oppressed people, so it is a perfect match for me.

What is one of the most meaningful experiences you’ve had on the job?

After visiting with a hospice patient who was close to death, I spent time with the patient’s daughter helping her to decide the best way for her to share the last precious hours together with her mom. The daughter wanted to clear up a conflict that had lingered for many years.

The next day the patient died, and 2 hours later, the daughter called to thank me for helping her work toward reconciliation with her mom. She said that both of them were at peace, and she believed that her mom’s death and her own grieving were a little easier because of how I had helped her.

What does your average day look like?

I work part-time, so each day is different. Usually, when I get to the office, I get the scoop about what’s happened while I was gone (status of patients, primarily). Then, I visit patients and enter the details of the visit into our computer data base (which is like a computerized medical chart).

Most of our patients live in Calder Woods, a Buckner Senior Living Community. Our office is on the same campus, so I only have to walk down the hall to see our patients. Every two weeks, I attend a formal hospice team meeting with our doctor, nurses, nurse aides, chaplain and volunteer coordinator. In the multidisciplinary meeting, we communicate each of our unique perspectives of what’s needed to give the best care to each patient.

Are there any misconceptions about social work you’d like to clear up?

Did you know that social workers provide most of the country’s mental health services? According to government sources, 60 percent of mental health professionals are clinically trained social workers, compared to 10 percent of psychiatrists, 23 percent of psychologists and 5 percent of psychiatric nurses.

What does it take to be good at your job?

The most important quality is outstanding level of personal integrity and adherence to ethical principles. One ethical responsibility to clients is to maintain boundaries and avoid conflicts of interest. Social workers value social justice and client self-determination. Social workers need to have good listening and empathy skills. Hospice social workers help people deal with difficult situations and feelings related to death and grief.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

I’m very glad to be a part of an organization who values children and the elderly; part of our society’s vulnerable populations.

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