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Joanne Williams: A Social Worker’s Perspective on Healthcare

Joanne Williams gives us a social worker’s perspective on healthcare during this episode of the Perspectives on Healthcare Podcast with Rob Oliver. Located in the Tampa Florida area, Joanne is a licensed clinical social worker. She is a member of the Baby Boomer generation.

Here are 3 things that stood out as Joanne Williams shared a social worker’s perspective on healthcare:

1. Quality healthcare needs to be a wellness model, not a sickness model
2. One doctor attributed 85% of his patient’s problems to stress
3. Your inner world is representative of your outer world

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Here is the transcript of Joanne Williams: A Social Worker’s Perspective on Healthcare

Rob Oliver: Thank you. And I appreciate you being with me for another episode of the Perspectives on Healthcare Podcast. Today’s perspective comes from Joanne Williams. She is a licensed clinical social worker down in the Tampa, Florida, area, has expertise in anxiety, PTSD, and so on. She is a member of the Baby Boomer Generation. Joanne, welcome to the show.

Joanne Williams: Well, thank you all for having me glad to be here.

Rob Oliver: Absolutely. So tell me a little bit about yourself and your role in health care, please.

Joanne Williams: Sure. I have been like you said, and what a clinical social worker is as a therapist, truly trained clinically to do therapy. But it also allows us to almost be in any kind of setting. And I in, like, 30 years as a license mental health professional. I work in almost every setting. There is, whether it’s from schools to nursing homes, Hospice hospitals, always having a private practice. And so I do have a lot of different experiences working in a lot of different medical kind of providers, even in providers offices. So there’s a lot of different ways. I’ve seen the medical care that we have in the United States, and so I’m really kind of excited to talk about it because I think there is a lot we can share to all look at it maybe a little differently to make it better.

Rob Oliver: I think that that’s really what this show is all about. It’s bringing in the more different viewpoints we have, the more we share, the more collectively we can learn from each other. So definitely glad to have you. What does quality health care mean to you?

Joanne Williams: Quality health care means to me that it is the patient or the person that’s in charge of the care. And it’s a wellness model as opposed to a sickness model. From my own personal experience, I’ve always found that I tend to go to what would be considered from the medical model, an alternative way to look at health care because I feel like we have to look at our whole person or whole experience of body, mind and soul and not just body. And currently I am using a nutritional counselor that looks at hair analysis to see the toxins that you have that are building up in your body that are kind of excreted through your hair, but shows where then our body compensates. So it shows where things like calcium, for instance, maybe not be being able to be taken up in your body because of these toxins. So it’s a very different way to look at health. And then she does tell you about minerals and vitamins that will then help your body to find that harmony again, once these toxins are cleaned out. So it’s a very different way to look at things. I think the other way that I would look at what I call total health care would be was also including emotions that create sickness in your body. I think there’s a lot of medical understanding about cancers and anger and heart disease. There’s a lot of different ways that I do not see that the whole body, your emotions urban our thoughts. I can be part of creating a healthier environment in our body or actually creating to sickness.

Rob Oliver: So what is in your thoughts, the effect of stress on the body? Because stress is one of those things that as you’re looking at all of the all of the issues that can be caused from that, what are your thoughts there?

Joanne Williams: Well, as a counselor now, if I speak to that, I see that. And actually, I worked with a medical provider, a doctor. And one of the things he told me that 85% of everybody that walks in his he was a general practitioner walked into his office, 85% were stress related. So he really saw that almost everything was stress related. And as I deal with people in counseling most of the time, that is really what we’re dealing with, whether it’s anxiety, the unknown, uncertainties that are just creating stresses in our body. You know, you called me a baby Boomer, and I think it’s interesting. I’m glad you brought that up, because I actually remember when we did not use the word stress in our vocabulary, and I could say that to some. And I what we really didn’t even have that word that we use regularly. And now it’s just a common everyday word. So I do see stress can be very detrimental to our mental health as well as our physical health.

Rob Oliver: It’s so interesting nowadays everything gets thrown around as stress. And yet you’re so correct that it wasn’t too awful long ago that it just wasn’t talked about, interesting. Can you give me an example of quality health care?

Joanne Williams: Well, for example, what I was using with this nutritional Council that I’m using? Well, it’s done by video chat now. And so I was thinking I was going to say walk into an office, but that’s not even done anymore. And I do like that. There can be done by video chat. I think that can be quality because there’s multiple different ways that it can be given to people that are in rural areas or other ways than just walking in an office. When she works with me. She actually used Kenneth geology, which is more of an intuitive sense asking me specific questions, but a total look at what’s going on in my life. And maybe it is stress that we talked about. Maybe it is anxiety. Maybe it is something that’s really concerning me that I have pains or something like that. But she goes in and intuitively look so it’s a totally different way. Besides, maybe just your heart rate, blood pressure that somebody’s looking at. And she’s identified some things that I found were right on. But it seems like she goes and uses an inward wisdom that really tells her what’s going on on a whole nother energetic level. So I would call that part of this whole body look at somebody that would be part of a full picture for quality health care that includes body, mind and spirit.

Rob Oliver: Okay. So what you’re saying is that it includes the circumstances that are going on in your home and in your work and so on. And it would also include the emotions that you’re feeling and the way that you’re reacting to those is that accurately summing up what you said?

Joanne Williams: Yes. Absolutely. It affects us, and it can affect us physically as well as emotionally or spiritually.

Rob Oliver: Got it. What do you wish people understood about your role in health care?

Joanne Williams: I wish that people understood that their inner world, emotionally, mentally, is really represented by their outer world. It really does show up that way. Same in health. Kind of like if you looked around in your closet on your desk, it can be representative of the way your mind is organized or the way your emotions are dealt with. There’s representation. But I think it’s important for people to see that there really is that connection. And that for me, therapy as my role in healthcare is really about helping somebody understand that representation and really building some life skills that they can see that clarity and how it affects their insides and outsides in their world so that they can really have a better understanding of their purpose and how emotions are really a piece of a message or a piece of information for them to use to make better decisions in life. And that really to learn to respect the feelings that are really their knowingness. They’re in their heart. And they’ve got that intuition because it’s telling them something. And I think they can find more meaning in their life or even the purpose or gift if they really look to their heart instead of their mind.

Rob Oliver: Okay. It’s interesting to hear you say that because a lot of times the message that we’re given is like, get rid of the emotional side of things like you just have to push through and get it done. What’s your reaction to that?

Joanne Williams: I giggle, is what my reaction to that is because that’s like saying half of our brain is logical analytical. The other half is emotional. And so it would be like saying, let’s get rid of half of our brain and not use that as a piece of information for decision making. I really believe that the way that it works, you first have thoughts from one side. It goes into the emotions on the other side. Then you can go down and really make a decision that makes sense. But if you’re not using half of your brain, you’re missing out on a lot of good stuff that are giving you messages.

Rob Oliver: Okay. Well, I’ve been accused of only having half to begin with, but that’s a story for a different day. Let me ask you this question. Okay. As a social worker, for me, my experience with social workers is they’re the people that help get everything in order for discharge when I’m at the hospital. Okay. But I feel like there’s more to what social workers do than that. Can you expand on that?

Joanne Williams: Oh, I love that question. Nobody ever asked that. And it’s so much is I thought you were going to say what I see on TV. The social workers are the ones that come into the house and drag the kids out. And you feel sorry for the kids. Instead of looking at the whole situation, there’s abuse going on. They blame the social worker for the bad situations. Social work is a really broad field, and it was really one of the very first helping fields established, although I’m not going to remember my history, but way back in the projects and probably the 1800 when immigrant started coming and seeing they really need some resources. So you’re right. There could be different kinds of community in the community. You can see activists, their community organizers and hospitals. They find resources so somebody can go home or in a nursing home. I would do mental status tests to see if people could go home or if they did have dimension or unable clinically. I would be a clinical social worker. So I do therapy. So there is many medical social work. There is many different types and we get different types of education according to the role we’re going to play. So clinically, I had to get a clinical experience, understand behavioral Sciences, psychology, all those different kinds, to be able to get licensed. And then you work under somebody for two years before you can go out on your own. So it’s really a broad field.

Rob Oliver: Okay. Thank you. Thank you for sharing that. And kind of hopefully broadening our perspective. What excites you about the future of healthcare?

Joanne Williams: I worked at a medical group. It was called is really an HMO in Southern California and Palm Springs, and they were building an entire system of health care on a campus. And they had providers there. And I was developing the social services Department and from me as the only person. And then we got up to about 19 people in the Department. We were working interdisciplinarily with nurses or doctors. We actually went into homes to get people’s resources, so understanding why they weren’t getting to their doctor’s appointment, they didn’t have transportation or they were too sick. So we had to figure out and problem solve every reason why they weren’t getting into their doctor and get them there. The same with mental health resources. People would come out of a stay three, seven days in a mental institution. They had no counseling set up afterwards. They had no doctors appoint. They got me they had no doctor’s appointments to get those brief calls. So that is part of what we did. And they actually established their own clinic with doctors and clinical social workers or therapists on campus. So the medical doctors would see some depression symptoms or they would see anxiety again, that 85% of the people they came in their office, they would refer them to the clinic. And so there was a reciprocity right there. Or if they saw some medical things because they were seeing the client, they would send them back to their primary care physician. So it was very it was an interlocking system that really took very good care of their patients. And I would love to see that as a model for health care and many more places, because then the patients are taken care of not only their social, because they could get resources and go places. But they’re medical, they’re emotional was also taken care of it with a clinic right there on that campus.

Rob Oliver: Just from my perspective, when you’re creating that interdisciplinary team, it is so important as well that the patient be viewed as a part of that team and not just seen as a peripheral in that. Does that make sense to you?

Joanne Williams: Absolutely. What’s their needs? Because if we don’t ask them, how do we know why aren’t they getting to the doctor? And there’s 100 different reasons, and that’s what we had to ask to get them involved in their own health care or even taking beds or whatever are not eating. I mean, there’s just so many different components, and they really did a good job to figure all that out.

Rob Oliver: Excellent. What is one thing medical professionals can start doing today to improve the quality of health care?

Joanne Williams: This one’s a big one for me. I would love to see any doctor that prescribes any kind of psychotropic mad. I don’t even care even if pain Med for longer than two weeks or especially if there’s antidepressants. And I hope they’re not prescribing benzodiazepines anymore that are so addictive that cause a new problem. Those are like the Atavans, the lorazepam, that volumes might be a better one that people will remember that are so addictive that create a different problem. I wish any doctor that prescribed any of those medications also, at the same time prescribed, you must go see a therapist. The research is clear. Medication with therapy works better than either one alone. So why wouldn’t they be doing that and encouraging their patient to have the best care? But I don’t see it.

Rob Oliver: Got it. Each in itself has a certain effectiveness. But what you’re saying is that when you combine the two of them, some of the whole is greater than the parts. Is that what you’re saying?

Joanne Williams: Absolutely. Yes.

Rob Oliver: Wonderful. Joanne Williams, thank you so much for joining me today. I appreciate you being open and sharing, and I appreciate your perspective on healthcare.

Disclaimer: All opinions expressed by guests on the Perspectives on Healthcare Podcast are solely the opinion of the guest. They are not to be misconstrued as medical diagnoses or medical advice. Please consult with a licensed medical professional before attempting any of the treatments suggested.

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