Can you briefly describe your journey as a social worker to date?

POOLE: “My journey in social work to date has been rewarding. I have learned in my own self-reflection how to set healthy boundaries. Helping people can be exhausting, so practicing self-care has become a priority. While carrying a heavy caseload, I found it became necessary for me to create space for self-care so that I decrease burnout. My passion for the work has seen me through some difficult time.”


As head of the Early Careers Professional Group, what do you think are the top 2 challenges faced by early-career social workers today, and why?

“The lack of knowledge and experience are the top two challenges faced by early-career professionals. As an early-career professional, we are still developing our skillset, which takes time and requires practice. In the workplace or community, we interact with different professionals to serve our people. Many of the workplace settings are still not clear on what a social worker does. This can be discouraging and cause frustration. That’s why it’s so important to stay connected to the profession.”


In your work as an oncology social worker, what skills do you find you most rely on, and what do you think social workers in your specialty will need to know to succeed both now and in the future?

“Becoming an oncology social worker has been rewarding and humbling. Communication and self-care are two skills that have been instrumental to my sustainability in the field. Learning how to use transformative language when working with patients and clinical staff is important to improving positive outcomes. Now when I experience challenges, it seems that I find healthier ways to manage or cope through the situation.”


How has NASW and the chapter helped you develop as a leader and a social worker?

“The NASW Virginia Chapter has improved my leadership skills. NASW has offered me a platform to share my experience in my career trajectory to this point. Hopefully, by sharing my journey and experiences to this point, that will inspire other early-career professionals. The opportunities to develop your skills seem endless since becoming a member of NASW. The different training and workshops enhanced my toolkit, and lastly, the chapter has opened my mind, thanks to the networking with other social workers on various opportunities to improve my skills.”


What would you say to an early-career professional who is considering NASW membership?

“I would encourage everyone to join NASW for the networking opportunities, mentorship, and the chance to enhance your skillset. Joining NASW can expand your knowledge on system issues and teach you how to advocate within your profession. Staying connected to the professional association also may decrease your burnout in the field.”