by Tony Vasquez, May 2015
Volunteering is often a great way for Social Work graduate students to develop their professional skills while giving back to the community.
I have been fortunate to have worked as a volunteer at a student run medical clinic as a social work supervisor for over 4 years. This medical clinic primarily serves a community of lower income families in need of a wide variety of medical and counseling services. In addition to providing necessary services, and helping others, the clinic provides social work student volunteers opportunities to gain professional experience.
Student volunteers act as case managers, counselors, administrators, and patient advocates. The social work student volunteers were tasked with completing intakes, assessments, and counseling clients about their medical needs and options. They are typically expected to communicate with volunteers from other departments to ensure that they are fully informed about each of their client‚Äôs unique medical circumstances.
I have watched volunteer social work students gain valuable skills from working in the multi-disciplinary setting of the free clinic. Even though the BSW and MSW social work student volunteers were already completing a field practicum, the student run clinic provided them with another outlet where they could potentially enhance their social work skills.
The opportunity to learn about the role of social workers in a medical setting was a great way for the students to enhance their breadth of knowledge of the field. Working in a multi-disciplinary environment helped many of the volunteers learn more about collaboration, patient care, and best practices.