Amy Colver, LCSW
Melody Griffith, MSW, LMSW, OSW-C
AOSW Communications Director
Jeanice Hansen, LCSW, OSW-C
To submit a story or information for inclusion in a future issue of AOSW Newsletter, contact Amy Colver or Melody Griffith on the list above.
Director’s Report: Communications
In January 2016 I began my three-year term as Communications Director of AOSW, and these last six months have been the start of a most excellent adventure! I can honestly say without reservation that AOSW’s Board of Directors has a keen eye on the future of this organization, the trends in health care and the role of the oncology social worker. But what is equally important is not only the guidance of the Board, but our ability to communicate with you, our members, and to create opportunities for you to communicate amongst yourselves. It is my experience that AOSW excels on all of these fronts.
I first came to AOSW in 2004 when I stepped into my current professional role as the Coordinator of Psychosocial Oncology in an out-patient setting. At that point I’d had about 11 years of oncology experience, but also not in “this” type of setting. Sure, I had lots of nurse and physician colleagues, but no other social workers. It felt very lonely and, honestly, a bit scary at times. Then I discovered AOSW and SWON. SWON was a true life-saver for me by granting me instant communications with an international collection of peers, many of whom had the experience and knowledge I needed. Best yet was that the members shared freely (and quickly!), didn’t judge and offered unbridled support for the ups and downs that come naturally with oncology social work positions.
Next, I sampled an AOSW Annual Conference and was totally blown away by the quality and practicality of the papers, workshops and networking opportunities. This was peer-to-peer communication at its best. The presenters couldn’t wait to answer questions and share. Attendees were open and welcoming, be it over coffee and pastries in the morning or drinks and appetizers at the end of the day. I remember clearly returning to work the following week, marching into my manager’s office and announcing that thanks to attending the AOSW Annual Conference I now felt much more competent and confident to provide services to our patients. Oh—I also insisted that they support me to attend annually in that this was the only source of professional support I had, unlike my nursing colleagues. (I learned about this communication technique at the conference, too!)
As I became more comfortable in AOSW and more active on SWON, I realized that it was time to start giving back. I volunteered to be a State Representative. This gave me many opportunities to communicate with others who were relatively close at hand and learn about their needs. Then I was invited to be a SWON Co-Moderator. This afforded me opportunities to communicate with the entire membership and Board members. Here again I discovered that be it engaging Board members in dialogue about issues on or about SWON, or moderating online discussions among members that can sometimes become passionate in election years, the idea of communications ruled the day. And then last summer I took the plunge and ran for and was elected to my current Board position as Communications Director.
Since joining the Board, I’ve had the opportunity to get a different view about why AOSW works and witness firsthand that it is not only about “brains,” but also about our ability to communicate to each other and to you, our members. I see the value that free flowing communications via SWON, AOSW Navigator, OSW NewsBrief and our social media streams (Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn) bring to our members, which also allows us as an organization to speak to the world about who we are, what we do and the value of our work. I participate in the strategic planning sessions that the Board uses to determine where we go as an organization. It is really all about communications through both words and deeds.
So as I begin my tenure as Communications Director, my pledge to you, our members, is to strive to maintain the strong communication forums already established and to help grow new pathways as needed. If you have ideas, please share. If you have questions, please ask. It really is all about communication.
About the Author
Andrea Karoff, MSW, LCSW, OSW-CCoordinator, Psychosocial Oncology
Creticos Cancer Center, Advocate Illinois Medical Center