Bree Whitmore had three different minors in college: family studies, social work and journalism. She had plans to double-major in social work and public relations but wanted to graduate in a timely manner. She received a bachelor’s degree in public relations from Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo and became a corporate and fundraising events planner.
After a couple of years working as an event planner, Whitmore wanted to make a stronger impact on the lives of others. She decided to return to school and earned a master’s degree in social work from Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan.
As a licensed medical social worker for hospice care in Dallas, Whitmore handles up to 40 terminally ill patients and their families dealing with end-of-life care situations. She assists in preparing families for the death of a loved one by offering services that help with the transition.
In patient care, she makes sure that their Will has been prepared and advanced directives are documented. Connecting families to funeral homes, assessing needs and providing grief counseling are also a part of her job.
“I do a lot of family crisis counseling. I have to explain disease prognosis to family members that, many times, are in denial that their loved one is coming to the end of their life,” said Whitmore.
Whitmore has worked in crisis intervention in various communities (family preservation, home bound elderly and management of a homeless shelter).
“I am doing what I want to do but continuing education is not only a requirement to keep my license, it is a must in the ever-changing field of social work. There are changes in Medicare, insurance requirements and medical procedures. With the aging baby boomer population, the services that are needed need to be more technologically friendly, i.e., electronic documentation of patient records and instant access to medical providers.”
“Having a master’s degree in social work has helped me in providing the best care possible for my patients and their families,” said Whitmore. “To advance in the field of social work, one needs a master’s degree.”
Dealing daily with people in end-of-life situations can be stressful, but Whitmore says, “You learn not to absorb work and take it home.”
Robin D. Everson is a native Chicagoan who resides in Dallas, Texas. Her appreciation for art, food, wine, people and places has helped her become a well-respected journalist. A life-long lover of education, Robin seeks to learn and enlighten others about culture. You can find her work at Examiner.com.