The director of our social work department came to talk to the admissions staff to refresh their understanding of the degree since we have recently added a masters program.  As part of her description, she emphasized that social work involves a macro level as well as a micro level of understanding.

Translated, this means that graduates are able to provide direct service to individuals, but they are also able to understand the systems and advocate at a policy level to create broad change.  (e.g.: Social workers may help an individual transition out of incarceration, but also need to know how the housing system and corrections work in order to do so.)

I think other positions should have a macro and micro component, but too often people focus only on one end of the spectrum.  Teachers pay attention to pupils, but not the educational system.  People in government attempt to create new policy without understanding of the impact on individuals.  Doctors treat the patient but do not participate in health care reform.  

Think about the macro and micro dimensions of your work.  Where do you specialize?  What could you do to broaden your spectrum of understanding and involvement?  As you think about your personal development plan and the topics on your meeting agendas, try to alternate attention between the macro and micro to truly influence the work in your field.

— beth triplett

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