• I am amazed by the insight provided in this interview. I commend Ms. Agnello on her ability and desire to work with patients and families enduring tremendous trauma, especially with her past experience. I was relieved to read that Ms. Agnello admitted to encountering internal struggles when working with these patients. For myself, I know that working in the field can bring up internal difficulties which we must work through. I also have the experience of a father who was diagnosed with cancer, thankfully he is recovering better than anyone expected. I admire Ms. Agnello on her ability to confront her trauma head-on and give back to others who have similar experiences. I have no doubt that the families and patients working with Ms. Agnello are experiencing less than the utmost respect and care. I am looking forward to part II of this interview!

  • Confronting trauma head-on – I like that description! Thanks for the comment, Emily.

  • Larissa Bachman

    This interview was quite a joy to read. It seems as though Ms. Agnello has had a great eperience at Roswell, which is actually my first choice for my advanced year placement. Her story is compelling, and I was amazed at how open she was regarding her struggles. A cancer institute undoubtidly brought up an array of emotions for her, but her experience in the field and her education through this program seemed to really help her perceiver as a soial worker. I too had a parent (my mother) diagnosed with cancer, but I have had the fortunate experience that she has fully recovered from it, and this year finally reached her five year remission date. I aspire to be as comfortable and as head strong as Ms. Angello when it comes to facing difficult situations in regards to her past traumatic experiences. This interview touched very close to my heard, and I really thank Ms. Agnello for being so honest about her experience.

  • I, too, found Lizzie very forthright in sharing her experiences, which makes this interview such a good resource for future/current social work students or anyone who would like to know what working in the area of oncology may entail. Best wishes for your mother’s continued good health, and for your own growth when facing life’s challenges.

  • Thank you for sharing Lizzie’s experiences and her perspective on increasing the quality of life for her patients. Anyways, I also came across this other article that may further motivate future medical social workers: http://www.gradschools.com/search-programs/social-work-msw/social-worker-salary

  • Pingback: A Unique Privilege: Social Work in a Cancer Institute- Part Two | SocialWorkSynergy

  • I enjoyed reading this interview very much. As a first year MSW student I am always interested in discussing with others about their field placements and their options for next year. During the field fair Rosewell Park was one of the tables I spent some time at and greatly considered for my second year placement. I commend Ms. Agnello for sharing her experience and her insight on the internal struggles she encountered during her time at Rosewell Park. I, too, have had a number of family members who have/had cancer, and can only imagine how challenging it must have been for Ms. Agnello and I admire her strength. I think it is good for MSW students to read about Ms. Agnello’s experience, because as social workers we will probably all face and have to handle different struggles throughout our careers.

  • Elizabeth, you have a great perspective. It is great to hear about the work you are doing and have done. Your post is a great example of use of self in social work. It reads that you have found a balance with your use of self and the work with peoples in the hospital. It is tough to be self-aware enough to consciously use self in practice. It takes a level of self-awareness in which we challenge ourselves much in a similar way we would peoples coming to us in practice. Use of self is important as our feelings and experience can be useful to others if used consciously, effectively, with purpose and planning for the benefit of others. Shulman talks a great deal about use of self along with sharing the worker’s feelings. You describe a great process of a personal tuning in before responding or being with a person (Shulman, 2009; Heydt & Sherman, 2005).
    What a great way to build engagement and a positive relationship with peoples whom you are working with. You have two key concepts that facilitate this: (a) self-awareness and master of your feelings/experiences/thoughts and (b) an understanding of how the person may see/understand you in this context (Heydt & Sherman, 2005; Shulman, 2009). The formula is one that encompasses trauma informed principles to create a trusting, safe, and mutually respectful space for anyone who is working with you (Harris & Fallot, 2001; Shulman, 2009). What is most striking is the described ability you have at even recognizing your unconscious mannerisms. How we act and are physically with someone does matter. You make effort to pay attention to this aspect of the relationship, which I am sure is helpful for you in your work. I am very glad to read about your work and wish you the best of luck!

    Heydt, M. J., & Sherman, N. E. (2005). Conscious Use of Self: Tuning the Instrument of Social
    Work Practice with Cultural Competence. Journal of Baccalaureate Social Work, 10 (2), 25-40. Retrieved from http://mcnellie.com/525/readings/heydtsherman.pdf
    Harris, M., & Fallot, R. D. (2001). Using Trauma Theory to Design Service Systems. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons.
    Shulman, L. (2009). The skills of helping individuals, families, groups, and communities (7th ed.). Retrieved from http://www.coursesmart.com/9781111521257/firstsection#X2ludGVybmFsX0J2ZGVwRmxhc2hSZWFkZXI/eG1saWQ9OTc4MTExMTUyMTI1Ny9paQ==

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