Challenges Social Workers Face When Working with Underserved Populations
Being a social worker is a challenging yet often rewarding career choice that allows you to help individuals or entire families improve their lives by helping them get the assistance they need.
As a social worker, you perform a wide array of tasks for your clients that may involve one or more aspects of their lives. Whether this includes helping them get access to food, low-cost housing, childcare or medical or mental health treatment, many social worker challenges you’ll face involve overcoming social injustice.
This is especially true for underserved populations, which often include minorities and individuals who’ve experienced health disparities. Underserved individuals and people in underserved areas face numerous barriers that make it difficult for them to get basic healthcare and social services.
Visit Club Staffing to find travel social worker jobs and make a difference for underserved individuals in health professional shortage areas across the country.
Top social worker challenges
The most common roadblock for social workers and their clients is poverty, especially among minorities. Individuals suffering financial difficulties have a hard time attaining adequate medical care.
A significant number of these underserved individuals live in rural areas where rural hospitals fight to keep funding and staff. Underserved populations in health professional shortage areas already facing the challenge of poverty are also then faced with the added challenge of not enough healthcare professionals to go around.
Travel social workers can join the fight for economic justice by taking positions in underserved communities, providing guidance for those seeking needed social, health and financial assistance and advocating for needed services.
Elizabeth Eiten, LMSW, CCTP psychotherapist and owner of Boketto Center, an evidence-based holistic mental wellness center, specializes in trauma treatment and mindfulness meditation training. Eiten also feels the most significant barrier in her work with underserved populations is the lack of resources.
“It’s incredibly difficult for someone to create a happy and healthy life when they’re struggling to meet their basic needs,” explains Eiten. “As a clinical social worker, I have clients contacting me wishing to overcome trauma, because they understand that therapy would be the first step in becoming financially secure, experiencing loving relationships and feeling positive about themselves. However, there’s a financial barrier to receiving therapy due to the high cost of care. It can leave many people feeling hopeless and helpless about creating the lives they need.”
Social worker challenges frequently stem from being overworked and understaffed while attempting to help some of the most vulnerable underserved individuals in society during the most stressful moments of their lives.
There’s constant pressure on social workers to resolve and close cases, and this pressure puts them under tremendous stress. Like nurses and other healthcare professionals, social workers frequently deal with issues of burnout and compassion fatigue from the nature of the work they do, which is further exacerbated by heavy caseloads.
Self-care is vital to ensure the well-being of social workers and help retain employees in a field already suffering from staffing issues. Finding a mentor with more field experience also often provides needed support to overtaxed social workers.
According to the Social Work Degree Guide, social worker challenges often involve governmental regulations that are constantly changing, making it increasingly difficult for workers to keep current on the latest requirements.
A common issue social workers face is the struggle to find placement for abused and neglected children because of foster homes closing due to increased governmental regulations and limited reimbursements. Social workers are also hindered by HIPAA privacy rules that make it difficult to effectively communicate between agencies when the social workers need access to information from therapists to provide their clients with the most appropriate assistance.
When you choose a career as a social worker, you likely do so with the desire to make a positive impact on individual people and society as a whole, and you will.
Don’t allow social worker challenges to deter you, especially for those who are already underserved and need the greatest help. Prepare yourself for common barriers you’ll face and you’ll be better equipped to help your clients get their lives back on track, which fulfills your need to see them succeed.
To experience all that your social worker career can give, take some time to check out these great social worker travel jobs. Club Staffing has opportunities in all parts of the country, so you can work with the population and location that make you the happiest.
Begin the process by applying for social worker travel jobs from the link below.