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ASWB Exam Practice: Client with COVID

maskedHere's a timely practice question.

A clinic social worker is seeing a client remotely who has recently tested positive for COVID-19 after experiencing respiratory symptoms, which are ongoing. He is still is working in a job that involves many other people. "But it's fine, I wear my mask and I'm almost always more than six feet apart from other people," the client explains. He says he will lose his income if he stops working. What is the social worker's obligation with regards to public health?

A. Report the client to the local health department.

B. Refer the client to the clinic's medical director.

C. Make sure the client is always staying six feet apart from others.

D. Review CDC guidelines for those infected with COVID-19 with the client.

Have you encountered anything like this yet? How did you respond? How would you respond? Which of the offered answers would you select on the social work licensing exam?

Let's take them one at a time:

A. Report to the health department. While the client may be endangering others, there is no duty to warn as there might be (in some states) for a client planning a violent crime. Sharing the client's diagnosis would be a breach of confidentiality.

B. Report to the clinic's medical director. This may not break the client's agreement with the clinic regarding confidentiality, it is that the best step to take regarding public health. The social worker should be able to address the issue directly. It may be helpful for the client to talk to the medical director, but there are interventions the social worker can be trying right away to help the situation.

C. Unless the social worker is going to work with the client and running interference, this is not practical.

D. The client is apparently ignoring CDC guidelines regarding COVID-19 infection. Reviewing those standards is a good first step. Referral to the clinic's MD could work to further encourage public-safety-minded adherence.

So there you have it. Can't break confidentiality, but have to do something.  That leaves referring or discussing. Like in many situations, the social worker should discuss (D, that is).

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Stay safe and good luck with the exam!

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Social Work/Social Justice

image"Social workers should promote the general welfare of society, from local to global levels, and the development of people, their communities, and their environments. Social workers should advocate for living conditions conducive to the fulfillment of basic human needs and should promote social, economic, political, and cultural values and institutions that are compatible with the realization of social justice."

That's from the NASW Code of Ethics (full section below). Maybe it can help guide your actions as you try to make sense of the times we're living in and have been living in.

What does the NASW mean by social justice? Take a look at the NASW website where what social workers stand for is spelled out very clearly. A series of Social Justice Briefs gets into the details regarding, among other things, police racial profiling, cash bail, and disparities in the criminal justice system.

All this is part of being a social worker. Social work isn't just working with clients. It's working with society as a whole. And we've all got a lot of work to do.

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Here's that section from the Code of Ethics.

6. Social Workers' Ethical Responsibilities to the Broader Society

6.01 Social Welfare
Social workers should promote the general welfare of society, from local to global levels, and the development of people, their communities, and their environments. Social workers should advocate for living conditions conducive to the fulfillment of basic human needs and should promote social, economic, political, and cultural values and institutions that are compatible with the realization of social justice.

6.02 Public Participation
Social workers should facilitate informed participation by the public in shaping social policies and institutions.

6.03 Public Emergencies
Social workers should provide appropriate professional services in public emergencies to the greatest extent possible.

6.04 Social and Political Action
(a) Social workers should engage in social and political action that seeks to ensure that all people have equal access to the resources, employment, services, and opportunities they require to meet their basic human needs and to develop fully. Social workers should be aware of the impact of the political arena on practice and should advocate for changes in policy and legislation to improve social conditions in order to meet basic human needs and promote social justice.

(b) Social workers should act to expand choice and opportunity for all people, with special regard for vulnerable, disadvantaged, oppressed, and exploited people and groups.

(c) Social workers should promote conditions that encourage respect for cultural and social diversity within the United States and globally. Social workers should promote policies and practices that demonstrate respect for difference, support the expansion of cultural knowledge and resources, advocate for programs and institutions that demonstrate cultural competence, and promote policies that safeguard the rights of and confirm equity and social justice for all people.

(d) Social workers should act to prevent and eliminate domination of, exploitation of, and discrimination against any person, group, or class on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, marital status, political belief, religion, immigration status, or mental or physical ability.

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NASW Ethics 8

COLORFUL SPEECH BUBBLE COPYSPACEHere's a series of articles via the NASW, each tackling another ethics issue (in eight bullet points): Ethics 8. Read through and imagine that you're an exam question writer on the hunt for a new question subject. Each one of these articles suggests multiple questions.

Take the timely Coronavirus: Eight Ethical Considerations, which includes this exam-question fodder:

Ensure Privacy for All Electronic Communications and Records

Social workers who elect to communicate electronically with clients should adhere to ethical responsibilities related to Standard 1.07, Privacy and Confidentiality.

The NASW Code of Ethics, Standard 1.07(m), states that "social workers should take reasonable steps to protect the confidentiality of electronic communications, including information provided to clients or third parties.

Furthermore, "Social workers should use applicable safeguards (such as encryption, firewalls, and passwords) when using electronic communications such as e-mail, online posts online chat sessions, mobile communication, and text messages."

The ethical and other professional standards that apply to in-person communication and documentation also apply when communicating electronically. In addition, it is not uncommon for communications in the form of e-mail and other electronic means to be included in legal and professional review matters.

How would you shape an exam question around this material or using Code of Ethics 1.07?

Maybe something about "reasonable steps." Maybe something about "applicable safeguards." Maybe something more specific. "A social worker is moving to telehealth sessions temporarily. Before using FaceTime for sessions, the social worker should." Fill in the A, B, C, D. The one that says, "Ensure HIPAA compliance of any platform being utilized…" is the correct answer.

Enjoy the site. If you come up with any good practice questions, send them in. Maybe we'll share them here. 

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Aimee Passed the NY Clinical Exam

aimee passed the clinical exam"Thank you for providing valuable study materials that helped me pass my clinical exam the first time around! What a true relief.

Congratulations, Aimee!

You're next. Get started studying now and you'll be good and ready come exam time. Hit Sign Up to create an account to get started.

Happy studying and good luck on the exam!

Census Day & Social Work Ethics

census 2020Hey, it's Census Day! Consider making part of your macro social work practice, helping empower yourself and your clients, by all filling it out. It goes really fast. Here's the abstract of a paper about why:

Census data are used to determine how approximately $675 billion is allocated to states and localities through over 132 federal programs; provide demographic information on which voting maps are drawn; apportion 435 congressional representatives; and provide accurate data on which many human service and social programs are designed, and grant funding is pursued. Social work and human service leaders and managers should inform themselves of the scope of the census and become engaged to ensure that all people are counted.

Will this be on the social work licensing exam? Not likely. But don't be surprised to see questions derived from this crucial part of the Code Of Ethics:

Social Workers' Ethical Responsibilities to the Broader Society
6.01 Social Welfare

Social workers should promote the general welfare of society, from local to global levels, and the development of people, their communities, and their environments. Social workers should advocate for living conditions conducive to the fulfillment of basic human needs and should promote social, economic, political, and cultural values and institutions that are compatible with the realization of social justice.

6.02 Public Participation

Social workers should facilitate informed participation by the public in shaping social policies and institutions.

6.03 Public Emergencies

Social workers should provide appropriate professional services in public emergencies to the greatest extent possible.

6.04 Social and Political Action

(a) Social workers should engage in social and political action that seeks to ensure that all people have equal access to the resources, employment, services, and opportunities they require to meet their basic human needs and to develop fully. Social workers should be aware of the impact of the political arena on practice and should advocate for changes in policy and legislation to improve social conditions in order to meet basic human needs and promote social justice.

(b) Social workers should act to expand choice and opportunity for all people, with special regard for vulnerable, disadvantaged, oppressed, and exploited people and groups.

(c) Social workers should promote conditions that encourage respect for cultural and social diversity within the United States and globally. Social workers should promote policies and practices that demonstrate respect for difference, support the expansion of cultural knowledge and resources, advocate for programs and institutions that demonstrate cultural competence, and promote policies that safeguard the rights of and confirm equity and social justice for all people.

(d) Social workers should act to prevent and eliminate domination of, exploitation of, and discrimination against any person, group, or class on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, marital status, political belief, religion, immigration status, or mental or physical ability.

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