Speaker 1 0:01
Would you please state your job title and where you currently work?
Speaker 2 0:06
Sure. I work at Neuro Community care in Wake Forest, North Carolina. My job title, I have two, is the Case Manager and Training Coordinator.
Speaker 1 0:17
Okay. And how long has it been since you graduated from college?
Speaker 2 0:21
From undergrad? I graduated 2001. And I got my masters in 2009.
Okay. And how long have you worked in your current field?
Um related to my field, since I graduated college. All my jobs have been social service related, if not exactly, Social Work.
Speaker 1 0:50
Okay, perfect. And could you provide just sort of a brief description of your primary job functions? Oh, no, I’ve lost you, Jenny.
Speaker 2 1:02
I sorry, my phone muted.
That’s totally fine. Um, did I miss any of your last answer? Are we? I’m not sure. Actually.
I don’t know. I think it was. I said I 16 years.
Speaker 1 1:15
16 years. That’s perfect. Okay. So yeah, could you give me sort of a brief description of your current primary job functions?
Speaker 2 1:23
Sure. Um, so again, I do, I have a couple roles in my job. But my role as case manager is to provide case management services to adults with traumatic brain injuries, and PTSD, primarily then working with veterans and their families who live across the country and have sustained a TBI or acquired brain injury. So that would be like, stroke or MS or something else that’s neurological. And by providing case management, I connect with them on the phone. Usually, we provide most of our services using telehealth model. So over the phone or email, after doing an in-person assessment; so really, we provide a lot of resources and referrals, we connect them to local resources; I help coordinate, what we call a community support specialist in their environment, so in their local community to work one on one with them for life skills, training, and just kind of finding, having more community integration with that one on one support. So it’s a lot of coordinating, and helping them find the resources and then being in touch with the warrior, we call them our most of our clients are warriors. And connecting them and their families to those resources, and then helping just overall, their overall needs that are not being met by other resources. So they usually have their medical care and things through the VA or through other facilities. We’re kind of supplemental to help with more quality of life and community integration. And then I do a lot of training through my job. So I train our new staff who are becoming case managers. And then I work with a lot of our external providers. So we contract with agencies in wherever our clients are across the country, to work with them, they provide that one on one support, and they might meet with the client, like five or 10 hours a week. And then so I do a lot of training with those agencies that we contract with.
Speaker 1 3:41
I see and how many clients do you work with at a given time?
Speaker 2 3:45
So my caseload is small because I have a couple different jobs. So I have 13 that are on my caseload. Most of my colleagues have about 30 Oh, wow. Okay. Okay. 13 seemed like a lot.
Speaker 1 3:56
So that’s, that’s useful. Yeah. Um, could you estimate in the average week, what percentage of your job requires writing?
Speaker 2 4:06
Oh, my gosh, we write… so we document every single thing we do, including every conversation we have every resource we provide, we have a you know, we have a system that we use for tracking our case notes. So Gosh, I I probably write, I don’t know. At least 75%.
Speaker 1 4:34
Wow. Okay. And you mentioned a couple of them, but yeah, could you tell me a little bit more about the the forms or the types of documents that you write? Oh, Jenny, I think I lost you again.
Speaker 2 4:50
Sorry, my phone is old and on its way out.
Speaker 1 4:54
No problem at all.[crosstalk]
Speaker 2 4:58
Um, yes, so we like I said, we document every, everything related to the client: every single interaction I have, whether it is if I write an email to my client to, let’s say, give them a resource for like, oh, I found this, there’s a adaptive bike riding program in Atlanta, I thought you might be interested. So I’d send them an email with that information. And then I have to go in our database to like, write that I write a case note to say, “sent the client resources list, what it is” to track that. So that’s a big part of it. But same with conversations, if I talk to a client for, you know, 45 minutes on the phone, or we do team calls every few months with every client, which is kind of a bigger meeting, a team meeting, I’ll talk with them on the phone for however long, we’ll take maybe 30 minutes to an hour. And then I go and document, everything we talked about. And that goes with I mean, yesterday, I text with a lot of my clients, I text a few who are in North Carolina to say like, how are you? How are you doing with the hurricane crabs, you need any resources. And then a lot of them really much prefer texting than email, so I’ll we’ll have a text exchange. And then again, I’ll go document it, even if it was really brief to say, like, “checked in with client clients doing okay, provided him a resource to for the local, you know, evacuation website in case he needs it.” So I would include that. So really, I mean, everything we all the information we share, we do goal writing SMART goals is a big part of our work, is we set goals with the clients and their families. So then, and during those team calls, I’ll go and track where they’re at with their goals. And kind of update those SMART goals. So that’s a that’s a lot of it. Because I do a lot of training, I also do a lot of documents that are in relation to like the training procedure and policies and procedures for to train new staff as well as references of like, how things are done. So I work on that piece as well.
Speaker 1 7:23
Gotcha. And thinking back to the sort of documentation of all these different communications that you have with the client. Could you talk a little bit about about the audience and purpose of those of that documentation?
Speaker 2 7:37
Yeah, that’s a good question. Um, a lot. There’s a couple different purposes. So one is the way that we’re set up. We are our funder is Wounded Warrior Project. So they, they have contracted with us to provide these services. So part of it is we have to bill for our time, and we have to account for all of that time. So if I have an hour phone call, I’m going to write a note to represent that. And however long all of that takes is the time that we’re billing for. Some of it is to like to have our, we have to have documentation to back up our what we’re billing for. But also from a social. So that’s, that’s definitely part of it to show to our funder, how we’re using our time. And they may, you know, as our funder, and as kind of our we’re implementing the program, but there are, they’re kind of on the development side, I would say, they have access to our case. And our monthly, we used to do monthly summaries, now we’re going to try annual summaries, so they have access to all of that so they can get up to date with what’s going on with the client. So if for some reason, one of our clients were to reach out to Wounded Warrior Project, which is which is okay, they have you know, they’re involved. WWP is involved on many levels, with services, so they may reach out for various reasons, they can then go check and just be like, get the up to date, the latest news with that warrior, which would be documented in the case notes; so that if they need a quickie review of like, where they’re at, where do they live? what services do they have? you know, who’s working with them? They can go into our database, we all share it, too to to look at those notes. But also from a social services standpoint, like an accreditation standpoint, we’re accredited by CARF, which is like the Commission of Accredited Rehab Facilities, even even though we’re not an inpatient facility, we have that accreditation and they are big on you know, tracking and documenting to show our work. You know, they always say you in social work, I don’t know if I say this everywhere else. Like, if it’s not written down, it didn’t happen, right? I can say like, you know, “well I told them that they should go to, you know, call the utility company to get that, try to get that bill paid and, or, again, try to get assistance, but they didn’t do it”, you know, but if it’s not written down somewhere, then I see, then it doesn’t count. And then, you know, even from a more, you know, our clients are really… many of them have a lot of high needs. And there can be situations I had, like a client I was talking to, a week or two a couple weeks ago, and just in the conversation, she shared some suicidal ideation, just saying, like, “it’s just so hard, I wish I wish I were dead” type thing. So that kind of like, opens up a whole whole series of documents. Yeah, in terms of like, you know, obviously, so I not only on the call would respond to her ideation, and she didn’t, you know, I would ask if she had a plan, or, you know, if she’s, how actively she’s thinking about suicide, and, and what, you know, what support she has in place? Has she reached out to her therapist? Has she called the Veterans Crisis Line? which she had, and, you know, we kind of I went through my response, and then that’s a big one that I would want to have document. Because it was kind of a crisis, documented what she said, as well as what I responded with, I also called my supervisor, and then documented, I talked to my supervisor on this time. So that, you know, it’s all there. And just to kind of cover our bases, if something I don’t know, even if if something did happen, or if there was question down the road of how we dealt with that situation appropriately. You know, we would want to be able to access that document.
That makes a lot of sense. Yeah. And for, I mean, for that kind of documentation, or really, for any documentation of these types of communications is there any sort of specific writing process that you follow? I imagine, it’s relatively straightforward, because you do them so constantly?
Speaker 2 12:13
Mm hmm. It is, and I would say, try to be like as objective as possible. And there are a couple things that we like train our staff to do; you know, we were not providing treatment. So we do not diagnose. So I would not say like, “during the call, she exhibited…” I wouldn’t. My background, my background is like clinical social work, and therapy. But in this role, I would not try to diagnose or try to write down like, a you know… because that would just not be appropriate. So it’s really basic. It’s really like, you know, “phone call to warrior to check in on status of disaster preparation, warrior stated he was fine, and has enough water and food, we’ll reach out if there’s any issues.” Okay. They’re very basic. I don’t know, that was too much to give you the example. But it’s very basic, as far as like our case, notes. There are circumstances that are more, you know, formal, that’ll do a more formal write up. But for that, it’s really just kind of tracking to make sure that the information is there. We do follow SMART goals format, and have a very specific format that all of us use when developing goals, and writing updates and things like that.
Is that SMART goals format? Is that something from outside the organization? Or is it something your organization developed for you?
Speaker 2 13:51
No, it’s definitely from outside have seen it used in lots of service or even medical. It’s like have you know what that acronym acronym is? Now the SMART, it’s like, instead of you I should know this by heart because we talk about it all the time at my job, but it’s Specific, Measurable. Attainable of Time. The last one is like time oriented. I forgot what the R is but, I can definitely share that with you. But it’s really you know, in developing goals, it doesn’t want to be like warrior will go to the gym to work on, you know, weightlifting, it’s very specific, basically, how often the warrior will go to the gym with what kind of support do they need? And what’s the percentage that we expect them tO what are we aiming for percentage wise and then like the duration, how long are we gonna have this goal? So we all are trained in that and kind of use that; it’s it’s definitely not rocket science, but it we do you follow a certain system just so, you know, we’re all standardized.
Gotcha, that that’s really interesting. Yeah. Um, so both the documentation and the sort of written goal setting. And actually, the training materials, too, this is sort of a broad question, but how did you know how to do this kind of writing?
Speaker 2 15:22
Hmm. That is a good question. Um, I mean, I went to a liberal arts college, I feel like I was very focused on all of my classes were very focused on just kind of general, like we used general writing skills. And for all of, in all of my classes, even if it’s not specific to well I didn’t have any classes that were specific to social work, so it’s just kind of a general, like, worked on our skills to express what we needed. So I feel like I had a pretty solid base in undergrad. And then a lot of it has just been over the years with this working with different populations, especially I’ve worked with brain injury for a long time. So I kind of know the language of brain injury, I know the like, you know, there are certain themes that come up a lot. So there’s a lot of you know, a lot of our goals, maybe around certain challenges that come with brain injury, like a lot of folks have different challenges, like with executive functioning tasks, or like organizing, or they have a tough time taking initiative. So I kind of am aware, because I’ve been in the brain injury world for a while, of what, how to focus some of those goals, or what areas maybe, you know, folks want to work on, obviously, we do that it’s very client driven, but I can kind of take their, what they’re saying and help formulate the goals just based on my experience in the field. And then I think like training materials, and things have just come over the years of job experience of, you know, working in social services, where we want to have things really clear cut; I’ve worked on a lot of places that had that same accreditation, that CARF which is not the same as like, there’s a different one for hospitals, accreditation, folks that come out and look at all your binders and look at everything. But with the CARF, I know that they’re expecting, you know, certain policies just to be really straightforward. Like, I think that’s what, you know, there’s, they’re not…they’re pretty concrete, you know, our training information. We work with, our staff have a variety of backgrounds, so some people are social workers, but there’s also people who worked as like speech therapists or worked as occupational therapists or speech OT/REC therapists. Rec Therapist is somebody who actually you can get a degree and get a certification in somebody who focuses on like, adaptive recreation, adaptive sports, for people with disabilities. So some people are coming from that angle. They’re all related to kind of our disability population, but, you know, speech therapists rights very different than I was trained as a like, social worker. So I think because we’re coming from different places, people have their own style, but we’ve been able to, like, at least provide the basics of you need to cover this information, everybody will have a different style in their case notes, but, you know, follow these basic basic standards, which is kind of what I was describing with, like, keep it objective, keep it, you know, keep it factual. And you can report on what the warrior, the client stated, but we’re not gonna we’re not going to analyze that. We’re just going to report on what we’ve heard. So we do share that kind of standard language, even though people are coming from different backgrounds.
Speaker 1 19:22
That’s really really useful. Yeah. Okay. I know that was kind of around. No, no, no, no, it was super interesting. Um, it has there ever been a time in your career where you felt unprepared as a writer?
Speaker 2 19:34
Hmm. Um, that is a good question. Um, no, I mean, I think things that are more Um, no, I always felt I felt prepared. Some things take longer than others. You know, I think case notes stuff like that are very, those tend to be pretty easy. But if I’m getting ready for a presentation or want to, you know, have more of a, I guess, more in depth or if I’m writing an article for a newsletter or something, I would want that to come across more advanced. So that takes me a long time. I’m not like, I never feel like totally awesome. I like when I was writing papers in grad school, like I always, it just takes me a long time to really make it. I guess. It’s not so much the content, I always felt comfortable the content, but just developing like, language that flowed and felt, you know, covered my bases and felt, you know, easy to read, but awesome, mature and sophisticated. That can take me a while. So just because I don’t do it as often. But I make Brian, my husband, edit lots of things, because he’s got much more natural edits than I. He is very good at editing. I do not feel like my editing skills are nearly as sharp as they should be.
Interesting. Okay. Are there other than sort of seeking out other people? Are there other strategies that you’ve used in the past when you did feel more hesitant in your writing?
Speaker 2 21:20
Oh, yeah, I mean, I think mostly, I’m mostly using other people to kind of review and read through things to make sure I’m getting my point across. And a lot of it comes down to kind of those like, editing, or does this make sense things like that. And, you know, a lot of what we do in our work, is consulting with each other more about content or more about situations like am I covering? Did I deal with this situation correctly? And then I’m it tend, we tend to be less concerned that it’s like, written perfectly, especially when it comes to like, situations with clients, or even like teen calls. I mean, that documentation I’m not too worried about, I want to make sure that the content is correct. And that, like I said, everything that I needed to say, but the actual, like, how it’s written doesn’t tend to be as important. So if I do need some backup, it mostly is done through like, just getting somebody else to read it, and review.
Speaker 1 22:25
Got it. Okay. And does anyone oversee your writing as a whole?
Speaker 2 22:33
That’s a good question. Um, I mean, we have supervisors who check in again, I would say, mostly they’re looking at contents, make sure that well, and that it’s there are case notes are in there. And they may have feedback sometimes. But it’s really not as related to how something is written, it’s more in relation to, you know, whether it’s there or whether it has enough. Sometimes those things come up with like, oh, there’s not enough details here. So we need to add more about that situation. You know, and we do really, so when we go and do in person assessments, if we get a new referral, we do a pretty late link the in person assessment. I mean, we visit them for a couple days, so we alone. Yeah, so we’re getting a lot of information, we got a lot of forms during those during that time. And then we turn that into a written assessment, which could be anywhere from like, five to eight pages, or it’s different categories of physical, physical status, cognitive status, psycho social status, like caregiver wellness, like we have different we, and that’s a template that our staff follow, okay, um, for each client. And that, you know, tends to take a little bit of time just to, you know, you could get gather so much information, we’re taking notes so often during that day or two, that we’re with them. turning that into an actual report that is, people can read is, is really, you know, is is time consuming. And we do want that to be well written and to express all the information that we gained. And kind of another piece about that when you were asking, like, what’s the purpose of that another, our supervisors would read it, or funders may read it, or at least want access to read it in case there’s any questions. We also send that to the individuals and providers who are working directly with the client. So the we call what we call the Community Support Specialist, which might be somebody in their community, who’s kind of bringing them out into the into town or getting them more involved. We send that assessment to them, so they have the background information. So it is important that it covers the bases. And some of those people who are providing those one on one services, they may, they come from a lot of backgrounds, it may be like a college student picking up some hours to help out in the community, or, I mean, they’re paid positions, but it may be, sometimes we use home health agencies. And we train them to work specifically in this role. So they’re not providing nursing, but we train them to work as, again, what we call the CSS, and some of them, they’re their education level, or just their background is not the same as ours. So we want to make it, we do not want it to be super, like advanced or medically focused, we want to keep it more basic about what their functioning status is, so that everybody can kind of understand. And we send other documents to them to like one called a safety and wellness plan, which is really basic, it just has, you know, some details about the warrior, whether you know, whether their own guardian, who their caregiver is, as well as any triggers and in the community that we want them to be aware of –so like physical or mental health wise, if we know that they are triggered by fireworks and large crowds, then we would write that in as straightforward as I stated, like, the trigger is fireworks, or loud noises, and how we want them to respond. And like, you know, the client responds by when they do when they are in a large crowd, they get really anxious, they start sweating a lot, they ask to be removed from the situation and kind of what we want that action to take. And that is literally like words, and just sentence fragments to explain as straightforward as possible that how we would want them to respond. If there was like a, you know, a situation that came up.
That makes sense, that makes perfect sense. That’s really, really interesting. Yeah, so you’re in the same document after that assessment, you’re writing to like, very high level people at the funding agency, as well as the people sort of on the ground working with the clients and basic level. Okay, that’s interesting.
Speaker 2 27:18
Exactly. And that’s a good way, what you just described is probably why we keep it pretty mid range.
Speaker 1 27:23
Gotcha. Interesting. And, and for that assessment, that sort of post visit assessment, how long do you typically take to write something like that?
Speaker 2 27:33
So it varies. But you know, by case manager, depending on how, how fast people can do, but from I mean, myself personally, or it can take a good like, probably a total of like, six to eight hours over. Maybe not that much, maybe five or six hours over, you know, whether I do it in one sitting or over a few days just to combine, there’s just a lot of paperwork. So some of it is like going through all that to do the actual writing assessment. And then it’s getting all our documents like in…
that makes sense. And then for in terms of the documentation, like say you send a text, I’m assuming the documentation for that is very, very brief. You just jump on the computer, type it in and you’re done.
Speaker 2 28:26
Gosh, sorry. There you are. Yeah. So text message. Documentation is super short. I same with like, sometimes I’ll call and leave a voicemail, but we still want that document, documented somewhere to say, look, I’m doing my job. Because those things actually do come up. Because sometimes we’ll get like a client or caregiver who like calls and complains, like nobody’s called me for the last like, four months, and we’ve got no services. And then we can be like, Oh, let me look, I called you on June 7, left a voicemail at 12:50. Then I called you on June 30. You know, like, I mean, I’ve definitely used that, in responding to people. So even if it’s like leaving a voicemail or a text message we are writing a quick statement with and it’s all like time-stamped.
Speaker 1 29:14
Gotcha. Gotcha. And now the next couple questions sort of look backwards at your college writing as an undergrad, what kinds of writing: Do you remember being asked to do and do you think that it prepared you to write in the workplace?
Speaker 2 29:30
Yeah, good question as an undergrad, um, I do. I do. I I like I said, so I I feel like none of my classes It was very liberal arts focus. So what they it wasn’t as concrete as my jobs have turned out to be. Um, but, um, I you know, just the amount of writing we did over the years of just, I mean, just lots of, you know, just a lot of papers is kind of what I remember. Um, and it’s just the critical thinking skills that get turned into papers, I feel like I i that did really prepare me for for being in the workplace and, and being able to, like, appropriately state write and keep up with what I need to in fact, I mean, I felt like I’m not, I do not write on the level that I wrote it in college. At this point, it’s just a different angle. So I guess that’s good, because I was prepared for kind of more intense writing, and mine now tends to be I mean, it’s all the time, but it’s, it’s pretty standard and basic.
That makes sense. Okay, yeah. Is there anything you wish you had learned or done in college? That would be helpful for your writing now.
Speaker 2 30:59
Um, you know, I don’t think there’s any discussions of the, of even the idea of different types of writing. per job, like what you guys are studying, I don’t think there was much talk of that of like, what the expectations would be in different careers. Which, again, I feel like there was like, a general preparation for just the workforce, but it wasn’t. It wasn’t specific to certain types of careers. And again, that may have been because we didn’t even have classes that were, you know, I didn’t take any classes that were nursing or, you know, specific to social work or anything like that. It was more general, like, you know, art since 1960 or whatever. Um, so in that sense, that was just one thing. I don’t know if it was lacking, but it just, it just wasn’t part of part of the the curriculum usually. Um, and I mean, otherwise, I still, I don’t know, if it’s just me, because, but I still in high school or college, I do not feel like my grammar skills have not caught up somehow along the way, I really do. Get Brian to edit very basic things for me that I’ve somehow missed along the way.
You’re not alone in that. No, I, I teach these workshops out in organizations in the community. And I mean, very, very, very high level people like you all over who still say like, I just don’t know where to put the comma. And you know, yeah, like that, it’s really is definitely not you. Yeah…
Speaker 2 32:48
Okay, that makes me feel better. Because I, that is an area that I do not excel in. And it doesn’t matter that much for what I’m doing. But it would be helpful if I could like edit my own things, rather than having to send my newsletter to Brian.
Speaker 1 33:06
This next question is sort of– you’ve touched on this to some extent, but I’m wondering if you could articulate what is at stake in the writing that you do?
Speaker 2 33:16
Yeah, that’s a good question. Um, I mean, I just want it I think, we want to provide a really good picture, a really good, honest depiction of somebody’s current functioning level at the time we’re writing the case notes or the assessment. So, you know, I think what’s at stake is like just having it be as, as honest a depiction and as kind of, of the moment so that it can help the individuals who we’re working with, especially when we’re sending information to those folks who are, who are on the ground, who are working one on one to give them as much of an idea about what the issues are, through the assessment, the written assessment. You know, we talk to them a lot, we do a lot of phone calls and team calls and things like that, but I think to have it documented, is really important. So that there is some kind of reference point about the clients functioning level and their needs and any gaps in services, like all of that is documented, as well as if there is a crisis. I think that is, you know, that is really important to have that have the documentation there. So that it’s, it’s clear what the intervention was. And again, it can be kind of a reference point. Sometimes I’ll go if I’m doing like a follow up with or if I get a transfer case, so I didn’t know I didn’t work with the warrior to begin with I will go back and read the assessment that was done maybe five years ago. And it’s really important that that gives me an idea about where they were then. And then when I go to work with them, it gives me a good history of, you know, where they were starting at, when we were providing services and where they’re at now. So, you know, it’s not like, super high stakes, but it is important for the depiction of that of that warrior’s situation and really, to be respectful of their I mean, like I said, most everyone around working with our veterans and you know, to make sure that their their story and their truth is depicted in, even in these kind of case management ways.
That’s really, really interesting. Yeah. When you when you think about their story being represented, well, what else? In what ways is that? I would imagine that’s very complicated, right? Like, my next question is about what is the most difficult thing about writing in your field, and everything you said, up until now has been like, well, it’s relatively straightforward. It’s important to be, you know, clear, and, and perfect. But, but that seems like a whole other element to sort of this idea of sort of respecting their history and getting that down. Could you talk a little bit more about that?
Speaker 2 36:20
Yeah, and, and, you know, are these written assessments don’t go, they don’t usually go anywhere that, you know, into, like a news story or a, a, you know, something that’s like, really is there to tell their story, but I do think it’s still part of their bigger picture. And I think, especially with the, these diagnoses that we’re dealing with, that is the complicated part. So like a brain, traumatic brain injury is very complex, in itself, just because of it can affect individuals, so completely different. And so you may get one story from the client, who may have no awareness of their injury, or very full awareness of their injury, but can’t express it, because they have aphasia, and their language is really is was affected. So it’s just, and then they may have a very different perspective than their caregiver, who, oftentimes, you know, whether it’s a spouse or a parent, knew this individual prior to their injury, and then post injury are dealing with somebody who’s maybe even personality wise is a very, very different. So they may have a very different perspective, they’re involved in our assessment, so we try to include their information that they share, you know, without making a judgment call on like, who’s correct, you know, one is… whose story we want to tell, but just to kind of get a broader, like, this is where they’re at. Right? And, and it’s just a lot of complexities with that. I mean, again, with the diagnosis with there. And then if how the injury came, I mean, whether or not, you know, we have definitely have some who were injured in Iraq or Afghanistan, who have just really complex.
Speaker 1 38:24
Oh, you cut out Jenny.
Speaker 2 38:27
They have complicated family situations, even like prior to being deployed to Afghanistan, maybe their duration was very complicated to begin with their family life, and then they get back with an injury. And it’s like that much more complicated. And then they have kids, and then they have, you know, PTSD, and they’re, you know, five kids and it’s, it’s just, there’s so many layers. That that can be challenging, I think, to like, hit all the layers, like I was just doing an assessment with somebody else, I was actually training them but I was involved with the assessment there to kind of help observe the new staff do their assessment, and it was such a layered case. Like he had a severe like, spinal cord damage from an helicopter injury while in on like, all these just all over the all over the world. And then on top of that, like his challenges in getting the right care, took years and years for him to get treatment that was appropriate. And he really felt like abandoned by his, by the military and by his team. Once he was injured, he felt like he was kind of like thrown away. And then on top of that, he had severe pain, chronic pain, like 10 out of 10. That gives him like hallucinations because of the pain. He has like PTSD from the pain. And this, what we call, and what’s getting a little more kind of discussion these days is this “moral injury,” which is feeling kind of haunted by things that maybe the veteran the warrior has done, or how they were treated or things they’ve seen. It was just layer upon layer upon layer of this situation, and expressing that in a, you know, appropriate way without being dramatic without being, you know, getting into the weeds of things we don’t know about even you know, we’re not going to talk in too much detail. And we’re not going to diagnose we’re not a therapist, but representing all of that I think can be complex.
That’s so complicated. I mean is it a struggle to keep your own emotions out of it?
Speaker 2 41:00
Yeah, I mean sometimes, I think that is a thing that comes up in the job in general–less so in just documenting it. I mean that to me–it’s just kind of all part of it. That’s just kind of part of the work and that’s something we talk about in our job. But the writing piece is kind of part of the job. And all of that can be a little bit hard sometimes–it’s just you know making sure that we’re staying objective but also we’re human and, you know, responding and not becoming robots and responding appropriately.
That’s really interesting. Yeah, that’s fascinating. I just have a few more brief questions. Has anyone helped you with your writing work formally or informally?
Speaker 2 41:47
Nope. Again not an area that we focus on.
Gotcha, okay. How do you believe you’ve evolved or improved as a writer over the course of your career?
Speaker 2 42:04
You know, I feel I just feel like I’m very well versed in what I’m doing now especially like I’m pretty efficient at it and I feel pretty confident in it. I actually think like social work and grad school gave us a lot. We did a lot of case studies. I feel like that was a good prep for my current case management job, even more so than some of my some of my colleagues who I love. But they were trained as like speech therapists–it’s a really different. It’s just totally different than language. It’s very goal focused very functional writing all about, you know, very specific to speech language. Whereas I think social work in general is more broad. So I felt prepared for writing about cases, so I think just generally I’ve become more efficient. I know, I know the work better. I’m more prepared as a, you know, I’m more seasoned as a social worker and the case manager. So, it just makes all the writing pieces that much more– you know easier to tip.
All right. OK that makes sense. You kind of answered this a couple of questions ago, but what, to what extent do you think writing is valued in the organization?
Speaker 2 43:25
I mean it’s a huge part of what we do and sometimes it can be almost frustrating because it feels like we’re doing so much admin more than–like really the biggest value I think is–and I think most of my colleagues would say this–is our delivery of services and the work we’re actually doing with clients is the most important. However, anything we do with clients that we document. So, it’s kind of hand and it really goes hand in hand. And so we think it is about you because we understand that like we put a big emphasis on these SMART goals and keeping up with those and using those really to track our progress or track the client’s progress. So, in that way the goal writing and the goal progress updates are really valued because of the measurable. The other things I mean it’s measurable if I give somebody a referral to you know a writing for veterans class or like a yoga studio in their area. But it’s not as tangible as like, you know, 80 percent of our clients met their identified goal of having more–you know, gaining more social capital in their community. Like those are much more measurable. It’s better for funding it’s better for a million reasons–you know, per our funder. So in that sense that is it is very valued.
That’s really interesting. Okay. And our last question how would you have defined successful writing as a student versus successful writing in your current work and would you say that you are a successful workplace writer?
Speaker 2 45:13
Yeah, I mean, I think, I think as a student I would have thought there would have been more feedback from, you know, more pats on the back, or like concerns coming from like supervisors like constantly looking at, like, is this written enough or did I turn this in just long enough or did this have the–include everything that it needed? Was it well written? I think more focused –and I think that would have been more focused–as a student I thought there would be more focus on like how well something was written as as a marker of success. But given that in this field of kind of social work and case management in general, I think success is, you know, I do feel successful in my ability to kind of keep up with it because I think that’s a big piece of it because there’s so much of it just like keeping up with the steady documentation needs and requirements and in that sense I do feel like you know I’m successful and that it’s, it’s very achievable, more so than kind of this like beautifully written, you know, articles about a topic that I would have to research or something like that. This is much more concrete and much more practical for the work that I’m doing, which is a really good fit for kind of what I tend to be better at anyway.
Tags: social services, social worker, Veterans, Wounded Warrior Project