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Social Work – Real Experts for Real Life

From listeners to teachers to protectors of social rights, social workers combine a variety of skills to support the wellbeing of their patients. In recognition of Social Work month, we are pleased to feature two of our own. 

Julie Groulx, Social Worker, Sudbury 

A recent graduate in Social Work from Laurentian University who is currently working on her Master's, Julie Groulx has worked at the North East CCAC for the past five and a half years. She began her CCAC career as a Team Assistant with the Short Stay and Chronic teams in North Bay and her hometown of Sturgeon Falls, as well as in the Reception and Information and Referral department in Sudbury. For the last six months, Julie has pursued her passion as a Social Worker within the organization. "Throughout my life, I've always been a caregiver," Julie says. "When I was introduced to the Social Work profession, I felt like it was meant to be!"

Julie believes that her own accomplishments come from her patients' successes. "The best feeling is when my patients have an 'AH HA!' moment and it completely changes their world," Julie says proudly "It's incredible to see someone finally love themselves and realize their self-worth." Julie says that one of the advantages of working at the North East CCAC is the opportunity to assist her patients in their home. "When people are diagnosed with an illness, they lose a lot of control," she explains. "When I meet with patients in their home environment they are much more comfortable. This eventually helps them to open up and results in many more breakthroughs."  

Within the Social Work profession, Julie says there is an equal balance between theory and practice. "When it comes to human behaviour, the theories I learned  in university were very helpful to understanding my role as a social worker, but it's a completely different story when you're actually putting what you've learned into practice in the field,  she admits. "Social Work is broad and personal –who we are as individuals, and the values we believe in, help us define what type of social worker we will become."

Kim Christianson, Social Worker, Sault Ste. Marie 

Kim Christianson chose Social Work by accident.  "I was pursuing my Bachelor's in political science when a fellow student introduced me to Social Work and it really peaked my interest," reveals Kim. "I started volunteering at a women's shelter and the rest just fell into place."  

After receiving her degree in Social Work from the University of Windsor and then working in both community counseling and long-term care, the North East CCAC (then called Algoma Community Care Access Centre) seemed like the perfect fit for her career. "What appealed to me about the North East CCAC was the opportunity to work with a diverse population facing a variety of difficulties and to be part of an interdisciplinary team within a growing organization."

Looking back on her 22-years in the field, Kim says the Social Work profession has changed a lot, especially in the last couple of years.  Long gone are the handwritten reports and time-consuming meetings with team members to discuss her role and goals for her patients. "Today, my colleagues can read my notes online in our Client Health Record Information System, review my digital reports and view my calendar to see where and when I am seeing mutual patients," Kim says.   "I also have my iPhone set up to sync to my calendar and emails, so I can be much more efficient within my practice.  I may be a technology dinosaur, but I am not going to be extinct any time soon!"

The Social Work profession comes with a lot of teaching moments for patients, but it can also result in learning opportunities for social workers themselves. "My role in helping patients to adjust to change in their own lives has helped me to recognize my own strengths and limitations and that it's ok to ask for help," explains Kim. "I appreciate even more the adjustments that patients experience whether it is in their health, their living environment or dealing with losses."