Karen Vrtunski

Karen VrtunskiMSSA, Class of 1985

Program: Full-Time Program

Concentration: Direct Practice

Specialization: Children, Youth and Families

Preferred Population: Children, Youth and Families, Healthcare, Hospice

Why Social Work?

I started my work life as a Spanish teacher. At the time, I also volunteered in the summers at a runaway shelter for teens and a senior visit program on the west side of Cleveland. As a teacher, I would hear about the problems the children I taught faced at home and wanted to make an impact at that level, too. One of my friends at the Cleveland Clinic told me about MSASS Рshe was an alumnus who spoke highly of the program and encouraged me to apply.


Background

Hometown: East Palestine, OH

Undergraduate Institution: Youngstown State University


Life at MSASS

Favorite thing about Cleveland: Cultural opportunities available at the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Cleveland Orchestra

Favorite thing about campus: I felt safe, like I belonged here.

Key lessons learned while earning the MSSA:

  1. The notion of seeing a person in the context of their environment, i.e., systems theory which involves looking at both the individual and the environment.
  2. In addition to learning about social work, I also learned a lot about myself, my strengths and limitations while I was attending MSASS.

Field Placements

First-Year Field Placement: Cuyahoga County Welfare Department, child sex abuse investigation

Second-Year Field Placement: Shaker Heights Youth Center, supervised program in elementary schools

Words of Wisdom: When going for your field placement interviews, research the organizations well and be careful where you choose to pursue your field placement. Make sure you get a good supervisor and really be thoughtful about the learning opportunities available to you in the field. It is through your field placements that you will learn how to apply the theory from the classroom to practice as you address pressing challenges and problems in the world of social work.

Employment/Career

Current Organization: Hospice of the Western Reserve, Cleveland, Ohio

Position: Social Worker- Education Team

Nature of Work: Serve as internal education consultant for social workers within the organization, directly support development of social work role in organization and end of life care and advocate for the profession within the organization.

Future Plans: I love what I do currently serving as a coach/mentor to facilitate change through others and hope to continue in this role.

 

 


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