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Health: Social worker Louisa Whitwam heads to New York

Posted by on 09/07/2018

On track: Social worker Louisa Whitwam has clear career goals.

On track: Social worker Louisa Whitwam has clear career goals.

On track: Social worker Louisa Whitwam has clear career goals.

Social worker Louisa Whitwam says she often sees hospital patients who talk to doctors every day but still feel unclear about how they’re progressing. Part of Whitwam’s role is to help fill in the blanks. She says patients have concerns about diverse issues including their illness, diagnosis and adjusting to the hospital system.

“A really important aspect of our role is to be able to use our conflict resolution skills, mediation and communication to give the person the opportunity to talk about their needs and what’s going on with their care, treatment and discharge plan,” says Whitwam.

Whitwam is a senior clinician in social work at Frankston Hospital. She combines her patient load with supporting a 10-strong team of social workers and managing the operations of the hospital’s social work services, which are available to patients in areas such as surgery, medicine, women and kids, and outpatient clinics. Whitwam’s specialty is pre- and post-test counselling for patients with Hepatitis C and HIV, but she sees patients in all social work service areas.

“What I didn’t know until I came (to Peninsula Health) is how influential and beneficial our skills can be in bringing the patient’s voice to the team and the system.” Whitwam completed a bachelor of social work (honours) at RMIT University in 2005 and a master of health and human services management from Deakin University a few weeks ago.

After working locally and internationally in hospital and family services/child protection environments, she joined Peninsula Health in 2009.

For the next step in her career development  she is heading to New York, as one of two Australians selected to represent social work at the Mount Sinai Medical Centre. She will participate in the centre’s eight-week International Enhancement of Leadership Program.

Whitwam says she’s excited about the opportunity to see how hospital social workers perform in an international context. She intends to gather insights into her own leadership skills and apply the knowledge to support developing leaders in Frankston Hospital’s social work services team.

In the next few years she hopes to further entrench herself in the operational management side of social work.

“I want to be working in a management position that’s in health,” says Whitwam. “And, no matter what, I still want some element of clinical responsibility; still having contact with patients and being involved in their outcomes.”


This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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