In honor of National Social Work Month, we spoke to Mitzi Bennett, manager of the social services department at CHOC Children’s. Mitzi has been a social worker at CHOC for more than 20 years and, with her team, works directly with patients and families in a variety of settings.
Q: What should patients and families know about social services?
A: People seek out our services for a variety of reasons depending on their unique needs, but many aren’t aware of the full spectrum of ways we can help them. We offer supportive counseling, crisis intervention, we collaborate with medical team and community services, and we provide support groups, referrals, advocacy and education.
Q: Why did you want to become a social worker?
A: Most social workers found the field of social work because they were interested in helping and caring for others. The compassionate and knowledgeable social services team at CHOC is able to help people that are struggling with the unexpected. We see families at some of their most worrisome and stressful times. Social workers are able to help support patients and families through difficult or scary situations.
Q: What part of being a social worker are you most passionate about?
A: The social workers at CHOC really value being an integral member of the multi-disciplinary patient care team. We partner with physicians, nursing, child life specialists, and other specialists at CHOC who value the importance of a team approach. Each of our different specialties work together to help each patient, and the diverse perspectives we bring to the team help accomplish that.
Q: How does our social services team support CHOC’s commitment to Patient & Family Centered Care?
A: Supporting patients and their families is at the cornerstone of our philosophy as social workers. We partner with families to find out what is most important to them. We help facilitate change in a patient’s situation that will ensure their safety and well-being. We promote communication between the patient and family and the treatment team. We value and respect each family, and promote care and understanding that is respectful.
Q: What advice would you offer someone considering pursuing a career in social work?
A: At our core, we must be very understanding and patient. We understand that someone may be having a very difficult or traumatic experience that led them to come to CHOC, and we are respectful of all patients’ unique situations. Our student program trains and educates new social workers coming into the field. Second year graduate students learn from our staff and then work directly with patients and families under the guidance and direction of their field instructor. They are able to work and learn in different areas of the hospital.
Learn more about CHOC’s social services department. Any member of the health care team, a patient, or their parent/caregiver can request a social services consultation by calling 714-509-8521.