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.
Gather With AOSW in Atlanta, Georgia
Will you join us in the spring in the Peach State? The 2018 AOSW 34th Annual Conference will take place in Atlanta, Georgia, May 30 – June 1 at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis. Registration will open in January.
“Guided by Best Practices in Pivotal Times” is the focus of the 2018 conference. We hope you are curious and enthusiastic about attending to learn about best practices and garnering tools to help guide your own practices.
AOSW is pleased to announce that Matt Zachary, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Stupid Cancer, will be the opening keynote speaker! As AYA Cancer continues to develop its own best practices, Matt will bring an inside look at Stupid Cancer’s 10-year history and the goal of its work.
Another exciting piece of news is that oncology social work is celebrating 35 years as a specific arm of medical social work. Our roots began as a professional health organization and then later became a charitable organization for educational purposes.
Medical social work in hospitals began in the early 20th century. In the 1950s, medical journals began sharing articles about the patient experience and psychological impact of cancer. In the 1970s, physicians recognized the need for a healthcare team member who understood cancer, treatment and patients’ psychosocial needs.
Memorial Sloan-Kettering initiated a training center in 1972 that focused on the emotional needs of cancer patients. Shortly thereafter, the National Cancer Institute published an article on national interest in cancer patients’ psychosocial concerns. This was the beginning of psycho-oncology. Over time, multidisciplinary research projects included medical social workers interviewing patients with cancer.
By the 1980s, oncology social work had earned its seat at the table in medical social work.
AOSW began in 1983 with the support of the American Cancer Society when the AIDS epidemic was emerging. In 1984, the ACS hosted an educational conference in New York for oncology social workers. Half of the day was an open session to encourage support for a national oncology social work group. Charter members were asked to make a $20 initial contribution. By the end of that first day, there were 45 charter members. By the end of the first year, membership was at 454. Naomi Stearnes was our first president. You can read more here about our history and pivotal members who played significant roles in AOSW.
I’ve been an oncology social worker for 12 years. One of the most impactful experiences I had as a new social worker was attending AOSW. It was quite something to see so many of us in one place coming from all kinds of locations and backgrounds. Some of us hailed from big medical institutions like I did, which has its own benefits and challenges, as well as those self-described “lone rangers” who came from areas that held different benefits and challenges.
To be surrounded by your tribe, soak up so much valuable and important information, network with people who are helping others in same and different ways—this is a kind of nourishment I am not sure we can get anywhere else. Plus, you go home with a fistful of CEUs.
All of this is to say that you matter. It matters that you show up and come to this conference if you can. Atlanta will be lovely that time of year. You will have the opportunity to see the sites (i.e., walk around historic downtown, jump through the fountains in Centennial Park or take a ride on Skyview). Good barbecue and boiled peanuts await you!
I hope to see you there!
About the Author
Jean Rowe, LCSW, OSW-C, CJT
Jean Rowe, LCSW, OSW-C, CJT
ArticlesGather With AOSW in Atlanta, Georgia
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