September 1, 2015

American Social Work Students Visit Amsterdam

CIPUSA, through its Arizona affiliate, Empower International, took a group of 20 social work students to Amsterdam for one week in the Spring of 2015. The students’ stay was structured around discussions with local faculty and professionals from all areas of Amsterdam’s social services, including healthcare, child welfare, community programs, primary education, homelessness, sex worker rights, and trauma care. 

A professional at the Dutch Burn Centre with whom the students met, was so inspired by their visit that she wrote an article for the Dutch Social Work Journal:

“Burn Centre International in Focus"
Dutch Social Work Journal, 2015

The Burn Centre in Beverwijk, Netherlands was founded 40 years ago.  Corrina van Wijk, member of the NVMW (Nederlandse Vereniging van Maatschappelijk Werkers – Dutch Association of Social Workers), is working there with great pleasure as a medical social worker.  In the spring, the Burn Centre welcomed a group of social work students from Phoenix, Arizona (USA).  Corrina, along with after-care nurse Anita Boekelaar, showed the students around and talked to them about the Burn Center.

In Corrina’s words:
Although I have worked for 23 years in the Red Cross hospital, I have only been a member of the Burn Centre team for 8 months—a Centre that is known internationally, and where we work together in a pleasant atmosphere.  The team consists of several medical specialists, highly-trained nurses, and other medical disciplines such as physiotherapy and occupational therapy, psychiatry, psychology, spiritual care, and social work.

Earlier this year, we received a request from Arizona asking if we wanted to receive a group of students at the Burn Centre.  The goal was to let them have a look at our way of social work and provide them with a new view on it.  I really liked the idea of bringing my job to the attention of international students.

There were more students than we expected: 20 students came!  The students visited several Dutch institutions where Social workers are active, including our center.  It was a very inspiring afternoon for us all.  We guided the students around the Burn Centre and gave them a good view of what we do over here.  We also talked about psychosocial problems patients have and the wide-range of activities the psychosocial Centre offers that focus on psychological and social functioning for patients and their loved ones both during and after their discharge from the Centre.  From the first day that the patient arrives, we analyze the psychosocial situation of the patient and come up with solutions where possible.  Specific points of attention are given to the family and living situation of the patient, their social network, finance, work and training, and psychiatric history.

The result of this exchange?  The students rated the visit a 4.5 out of 5.  They were not only impressed by the Centre and the care we provide, but also by the work of the burn institution (For example, the activities for patients during their time in the hospital).  One of the students wrote: “As social workers, we need to be open to new ideas and think out of the box.  I have the feeling that a new part of my brain has been liberated!  I am now able to think in a different ways about different situations.  We are so immersed in American culture that we sometimes forget that the rest of the world might not be the same or think like we do.  It is very important to learn about other ways of care so that we know more about the pros and cons of such management systems.  This then allows us to make positive changes in our own healthcare system.”

In collaboration with Anita Boekelaar and Stacy Moreno, Executive Director of Empower International.  
Posted by Lindsey Walsh on September 1, 2015 at 4:17 PM in Travel Permalink
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