Marcia Carlson, a licensed clinical social worker at Mercy Cancer Resource Center in Coon Rapids and the Virginia Piper Cancer Institute at Unity Hospital in Fridley, talks about her work.
Q: What's a typical workday like for you?
A: Much of my job is talking to cancer patients who need of resources, emotional and practical support. I facilitate support groups and a program called Renewing Life. I have also been involved in the healing aspect of health care, bringing in musicians and artists.
Q: How does your role fit into the bigger health care picture?
A: Many times we try to bring healing to people in very sterile and sometimes broken-down conditions. I am really a strong believer in the power of the environment for healing. We can pay more attention to those kinds of things - the sounds, the smells, the things we see. I think more hospitals are becoming aware of that and they're building them in a healing way.
Q: Who do you interact with during the course of the day?
A: I interact with patients and their family members or friends, other staff members, nurses, physicians and other social workers.
Q: Why did you become a social worker in a cancer setting?
A: There are openings in people's lives where change is more likely to occur and usually it's through some sort of crisis. I have an opportunity to help clients restructure or re-look at their lives, talk about their regrets, redesign their priorities.
Q: What do you like about your work?
A: This is a very emotionally intimate connection I can make with people. It is kind of a spiritual time in people's lives, too, because they begin to look at life and death. I went into social work because I love stories. The real gift we have as social workers is to listen to them.