Note: This story appeared as a "Spotlight" on Nov. 17, 2010
Social welfare alumnus Brian Wren is a medical social worker at Providence St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Burbank, California. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Brian came to the L.A. area shortly after earning his undergraduate degree in psychology, and spent a year volunteering with a social service organization. His work in the field eventually led to his enrollment in the MSW program at UCLA.
“In hospital work one of the more challenging things is reconciling many different philosophies for patient care,” says Brian, “For example, from a nurse’s perspective, getting a patient physically stabilized is the main focus. For social workers, our concerns surround what’s going to happen to the patient after he or she leaves here. If they are homeless, where are they going to live? If they have mental health issues, are they are going to get treatment?”
Brian recently wrote about the one of his experiences with a client during his second year in the MSW program, a case involving a severely autistic patient whose care was improved with the involvement and information from his primary caregiver—his mom. The article, “When Medical Protocols Fail, A Hospital Social Worker Turns to A Different Approach” (originally published in the newsletter of the California chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, Vol. 37, No.1) emphasized the benefits of putting together a plan of care that brings in perspectives from the patient’s entire care history and environment.
“One the most rewarding aspects of social work is the interaction with people,” he comments, “And just the way someone who’s in a bad place can receive just a nudge in a helpful direction, or small interaction or intervention, and it can made a great change in the trajectory of that person’s life. Social work can be challenging but it definitely gets me coming back day after day.”