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Social workers take part in a U of T summer mentorship program

September 18, 2013

Greer Slyfield Cook
Greer Slyfield Cook, pictured, is one of four WCH social workers who participated in the summer mentorship program.

On July 11 and July 18, four social workers at Women’s College Hospital (WCH) participated in the University of Toronto (U of T) Summer Mentorship Program, a unique four-week education access program designed to help disadvantaged high school students pursue careers in the health sciences.

“This was a very rewarding experience. It offers the opportunity to get to know a student, learn about their education, career goals and interests while educating them about the work that social workers are involved in at WCH,” says Greer Slyfield Cook, social worker, mental health program.

The social workers each hosted one student and shared their own learning and work experiences with them. The program is aimed at broadening student exposure to new ways of thinking about careers in healthcare, and at WCH, it placed an emphasis on social work.  

“Social work is a very flexible degree allowing a person to work in many different fields,” says Darcy Turner, social worker, Sexual Assault & Domestic Violence Care Centre (SA/DVCC), who participated along with fellow social worker Rekha John. “At WCH working on the SA/DVCC team we are able to work across disciplines to provide collaborative client-centred care to our diverse group of clients. Our role as social workers extends beyond clinical work to include advocacy, program development, policy creation, teaching and community involvement. The mentorship program is a great opportunity for students to get a glimpse into the diverse role of social workers.”

The mentorship program was designed to provide a well-rounded experience for students who have the potential and promise to complete post-secondary education, but who require extra assistance. These students are unsure about their career paths and have limited understandings of what certain careers can offer.  

“Many people misunderstand or have a preconceived notion of the role of social workers. I found this mentoring opportunity immensely rewarding as it gives students a snapshot of just how diverse social work is,” says Jennifer Muir, social worker, family practice. “This was the second time I participated and both times I had students who had had direct interaction with social workers in their lives, through child welfare, and they had no idea that social workers perform so many other roles.” 

The mentorship program allowed social workers at WCH to contribute to the student learning experiences in a meaningful way. They shared their knowledge and extended their work to a new generation of students who are interested in the healthcare sector, helping them gain new perspectives in the area of social work.

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