Published May 21, 2004
You are reading page 2 of Social Work to Nursing or vice versa
Do you have a BSW? You stated you have a B.A. but in psychology. From what I learned in my research and talking to a social worker I know, to be an actual social worker you have to have a BSW and that some people do work in the field with other degrees but are not actual social workers. Maybe that is why you cannot make more money. I've been checking salaries and although it is lower than some RN jobs, the median salary in my area for a BSW is $38,549 and for MSW $45,077. The lower end is BSW $35407 and MSW $41,761.
These salaries do not seem too bad to me but nursing does pay better. I too am worried about the physical aspect of nursing especially since I seem to be having some major back problems for the last 6 months. My back hurts quite a bit these days.
I also worry about the being able to do procedures such as catheters, IVs and of course the yuck stuff involved in nursing.
Just last night I talked myself into dropping the nursing and continue on with social work, but then I read something and makes me wonder if I am making a mistake. Boy life is just so hard these day.
I am currently a social worker taking my prereqs for nursing school. I hope to work in psychiatric nursing. For me, a big advantage to nursing is the pay and job availablity. I have a B.A. in psychology, and decided to work in the social work field before going to grad school. My experience as a social worker has taught me that jobs are few (even for people with master's degrees), the pay is horendous (lucky to start out at $10 - $11 an hour), and it is very difficult working with people when a large majority of them refuse or are inable to take responsibilty for their actions. So, I've decided to take the plunge at nursing rather than continuing with a masters in psychology because I think it will give me more opportunities in life and a better quality life to help me provide for my family. I also believe that many of the aspects I love about social work (making a diference in people's lives) will be a huge part of my job as a nurse. I am however concerned with the physical aspect of nursing and the wear and tear it does on your body. Nursing is also much more stressful, and taking the responsibility for another life is an immense responsibility. I also think nursing school is much more difficult than getting an advanced degree in social work or psychology. :)
Unlicensed bachelor's degreed persons often do not do all that well monitarily in social services settings. These are usually government type jobs--food stamp workers, child welfare workers, etc. Overworked and underpaid is the order of the day. Lots of job turnover and burnout.
The term "social worker" is often used generically by state agencies, which is annoying to the licensed social workers, who might work in hospitals and some other settings. For the latter, you must have a degree in social work now. For the former, especially if they are having trouble filling slots in remote areas or inner city offices, they will take anybody who even remotely has a degree in a "related" field.
Part of the issue of being a "real" social worker is that social workers figured out really early (like about 100 years ago) that if you want to protect your profession, you have to organize, and they have done a fantastic job of it. They really do not like For example, you can have a masters and be a licensed therapist, but not be able to be reimbursed by Medicare because you are not a "social worker." However, in many instances, you can be fresh out of school, have had no training in counseling or psychotherapy, much less be licensed, and you can get a job in a federal setting for good money and very good benefits, doing counseling.
Some things in life don't make sense and don't seem fair. But the good thing is that if you know this at the beginning, you don't go through your education thinking you can do something that will be near impossible.
If I were to do the psychotherapy thing again, I'd get my degree in social work--you can learn to do good psychotherapy in any number of places, but the political clout and opportunity that comes from being a LSW is not equalled, unless you get a PhD and sometimes not even then.
It is a small part of the reason why I am getting my degree in nursing. Nurses can in fact be reimbursed by Medicare.... As a student, this may not make sense, but being reimbursed is how you can stay in business, pay your bills, and continue to feel good about what you do (after a while, knowing you are "doing good" isn't quite enough--some money helps a lot).
It makes a great combo if you can do both. Otherwise, keep in mind that some MSW's are not as happy with their work as some nurses are not paid as well as some other-kind-of-professionals, etc., etc. Go where your heart tells you, just research your opportunities first. Google the degree, the job title, the state-authorized credential related to your potential career, and then find a human who actually does what you want to do. Take him or her to lunch and learn how they got to where they are, and what has changed legislatively, etc.
Sounds like a lot of work, but it will off in a big way.
Wish somebody had told me this stuff anytime in the first 40 years of my life.....
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