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Free Social Work Exam Practice Question: Vaccine Hesitancy

face maskLet's look to the headlines again as a source of a free social work exam practice question. The ASWB exam will generally avoid fleeting topical questions, but the underlying issues here are exactly like what you'll encounter on the real exam. Really, just about any conflict you encounter at work--or in life--might be shaped into a social work exam question. "A client reports a difficulty with…" [insert your conflict details here] "...What is the BEST way for the social worker to respond?" Right? Something like this:

A social worker in a community clinic has a client who is worried he will get fired from his job because he refuses to get the COVID-19 vaccine. The client says he doesn't trust the vaccine because "it's too experimental." He also refuses to wear a mask and says that "people look at me funny" when he goes shopping maskless. How should the social worker FIRST respond?

A. Explore the client's possible projection regarding the vaccine and the funny looks he reports receiving.

B. Discuss the possibility of job loss due to vaccine hesitancy.

C. Discuss the health risks involved in foregoing the COVID-19 vaccine.

D. Explore the client's understanding of the science behind the COVID-19 vaccine.

How would you answer?

One way to get to the correct answer, ask yourself  "How would I respond in this situation?" Then add, "What would a 100% by-the-book social worker do in this situation?" Where the two overlap is usually your best answer.

You might be inclined to call in a nurse to administer a vaccine on the spot (not an offered answer). But that wouldn't be by-the-book--pushing the vaccine on a client doesn't respect client self-determination. Or you might be inclined to agree with the client about the danger of the vaccine. That wouldn't be by-the-book either (and it's also not an offered answer here)--social workers aren't doctors and shouldn't be giving medical advice (especially advice that directly contradicts medical professionals).

Let's look at the answers that are offered:

First, explore projection. Is the client imagining persecution at work and elsewhere due to his vaccine hesitancy? Maybe. It's an interesting avenue, but not the all-caps FIRST priority.

Second, discuss possible job loss. That's more pressing, for sure--let's put a pin in that one.

Third, discuss health risks. Also a good answer. Let's set this one aside too.

Fourth, explore the client's rationale for his vaccine hesitancy. Also an interesting conversation to have, and a tempting answer. You might argue that discussing the science will get you to the health risk and job loss issues. Maybe it will, but then again, maybe it won't. Surely, job loss and health risks are the top priorities here.

But which one is the very top priority? Which one--job loss or health risk--is the most essential to address right away? Answer: health risk. The COVID-19 pandemic has been many things, but primarily it's been a public health problem. If the client gets sick, he won't be able to work. The reverse isn't true. Health comes first.

Does the client understand health risks associated with COVID-19? Maybe he believes he can't get the virus. Or maybe he believes with Q-Anon that the pandemic is a manufactured fiction. That'd be important to know. Does he understand the efficacy of the vaccine? With these questions answered, then the social worker can get the client to expand on his "too experimental" fears. Again, health comes first.

Health and safety always come first. That's true in life and it's especially true on the exam. Everything else can be addressed later. That understanding gets you right to the correct answer. Another good way to get to the correct answer: look back at the question. What essentially is it about? The client's emotional state? Employment? Possible paranoia? Those are all there, but it's really the COVID vaccine that's at the heart of the question. The vaccine is medical. The answer (re health risks) is medical. If you're BEST/FIRST answer on the ASWB exam doesn't sync up with what's essential about the question, you need to have a good reason you're straying from the core quality of the question stem.

Got it? Great! Now you're even more ready to go pass the ASWB exam.

To get really ready, check out SWTP's complete 170-question licensing exam practice tests (plus the two booster). There's nothing like realistic practice to get you prepared for the real thing. Get started (and receive our free study guide) by signing up now.

Happy studying and good luck on the exam!

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