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Webcasting Session Descriptions

Here are the session abstracts and learning objectives for the sessions that AOSW will webcast from the 31st Annual Conference (all session times Pacific). Return to Webcasting home page.

Wednesday, May 20
Opening Keynote Address
Skill and Passion: What Are They Good For?
John Wynn, MD, DFAPA
9:45 a.m. – 10:45 a.m. Pacific

(10:45 a.m. Mountain, 11:45 a.m. Central, 12:45 p.m. Eastern)

Professional competence and enthusiasm are the bedrock of our professional performance, but how do we decide where, when and how to apply them? And which competencies, what skills, are most important? These decisions – matters of personal belief, professional preference, and employment opportunity – will define who we are as individual clinicians and as collaborative team members. And they will direct the future of patient care for all of us.

Learning Objectives:

  • Appreciate the complex development of oncology social work in an urban cancer institute
  • Consider the range of skills that oncology social work can offer institutions large and small
  • Visualize themselves and their peers in positions of direct care and institutional leadership towards a more complete vision of the cancer experience for patients and families
Wednesday, May 20

Need Sleep?  A Four Week Intervention (Workshop)
Darah Curran, MSW, LCSW, Drucilla Brethwaite, MSW, LCSW, OSW-C
2:50 p.m. – 4:40 p.m.

(3:50 p.m. Mountain, 4:50 p.m. Central, 5:50 p.m. Eastern)

Cancer is a complex illness that often carries a significant burden of side effects for patients.  Insomnia is prevalent in patients with cancer and often goes undertreated. Insomnia impacts quality of life and also has the potential to interfere with immune functioning and patient treatment outcomes.  Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) has been shown to be an effective intervention for sleep disturbance, and can be preferable to pharmacotherapy, which is often associated with side effects.

Need Sleep was created as a multi-component, structured, 4 session cognitive behavioral program for patients and caregivers who identify sleep disturbance as a problem, but have not been diagnosed with a sleep disorder. Such evidence based interventions have the potential to increase quality of life and reduce negative health outcomes.

During this workshop participants will learn a protocol which will provide them with evidenced based strategies to better assist patients and caregivers experiencing insomnia.

Learning Objectives:

  • Describe an awareness of the biopsychosocial impact of insomnia on patients and caregivers
  • Assess the effectiveness and limitations of a structured CBT-I intervention
  • Apply framework and elements to implement a four week insomnia program

Thursday, May 21
The Lady and the Reaper: End-of-Life Ethics in the Intensive Care Unit (Workshop)
Wendy Walters, LCSW, OSW-C
8:00 a.m. – 9:50 a.m.

(9:00 a.m. Mountain, 10:00 a.m. Central, 11:00 a.m. Eastern)

There is no place more fraught with ethical tension around end-of-life issues than the intensive care units; social workers are in a prime position to assume a leadership role in identifying and resolving ethical conflicts.  Families make decisions not just by the medical information; social workers help translate to the family the often complicated “medicalese,”  translating  to the medical team how the family system’s morals, values, religious beliefs, among other factors, are driving the decision-making process.

This workshop uses as the discussion foundation a short animated film that was a 2010 Academy Award nominee. The film depicts the rollercoaster effect of the ICU, with multiple implications on how social workers can play a key role in early identification and resolution of ethical conflicts in the ICU. Participants can anticipate discussion of a theoretical ethics resolution framework that incorporates the basic bioethical principles, using case examples that exemplify the ethical principles.

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand theoretical framework of ethics resolution process   
  • Understand basic bioethical principles  
  • Discuss social work potential for leadership in identifying and resolving ethical conflicts in the ICU setting

Thursday, May 21
ACS Quality of Life Award Lecture
No Easy Path:  Being There for Patients and Families at Forks in the Road
Susan Gerbino, PhD., LCSW
3:50 p.m. – 4:40 p.m.

(4:50 p.m. Mountain, 5:50 p.m. Central, 6:50 p.m. Eastern)

Oncology social workers occupy a critical role in supporting patients and families in the conversations that happen at times suddenly, at other times over a period of years, relative to treatment decisions and end-of-life wishes. They are in a key position to influence the culture of health care in the direction of integrating palliative care principles and interventions alongside cure-focused efforts, with or without the involvement of a palliative care team.

Efforts in recent decades to expedite decision-making processes through the emphasis on advance directives have fallen short in their capacity to anticipate and “pre-plan” for the complex and unpredictable circumstances that tend to arise in the lives of people with advanced illness.  Moreover, narrow views of patient autonomy can neglect the suffering experienced by many families when left to make these decisions on their own. 

Learning Objectives:

  • Increase knowledge about integrating palliative care concepts into oncology social work
  • Identify missed opportunities for goals of care discussions with patients and families
  • Discuss the limits of common bioethical models and the risks of increasing moral distress in patients, families and the team

Friday, May 22
The Oncology Social Worker’s Role in Cancer Pain Management (Workshop)
Yvette Colon, MSW, PhD
9:10 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.

(10:10 a.m. Mountain, 11:10 a.m. Central, 12:10 p.m. Eastern)

Pain is both a common occurrence and most oncology social workers will work with patients and families whose lives have been touched by pain, but may not have the training and experience to provide effective psychosocial interventions to reduce the burden of pain and its treatments. This workshop is designed to assist oncology social workers to integrate the skills and perspectives of their social work education to lay the foundation for pain and symptom management competencies.

This workshop will reinforce pain management as an expected knowledge base in oncology social work. Participants will be taught interventions that they can use to help patients and families cope with and reduce pain. Participants will gain an awareness of available treatments for cancer pain and review the biopsychosocial components of comprehensive pain assessment and management. Finally, pain ethics, cultural disparities, research, advocacy and policy will be discussed.

Learning Objectives:

  • Examine the critical role of oncology social workers in pain management
  • Integrate skills in conducting multidimensional cancer pain assessments
  • Identify 4-5 pain management interventions appropriate for use by oncology social workers

Friday, May 22
When Time Is Precious:  Helping Clients Find Meaning and Hope when Cancer is Advanced (Paper)
Kerry Irish, MSW, LCSW, OSW-C, IGI-C
11:20 a.m. – 12:10 p.m.

(12:20 p.m. Mountain, 1:20 p.m. Central, 2:20 p.m. Eastern)

Psychosocial and existential concerns are nearly universal among patients living with advanced cancer.  A small but growing body of literature is developing on psychotherapeutic interventions for this population.  These approaches are often grounded in spiritually based theoretical perspectives ranging from meditation and Buddhist philosophy to perspectives based on Viktor Frankl’s logotherapy and Chochinov and colleagues’ dignity-conserving approaches.  These clinical approaches, which facilitate the exploration of meaning and purpose of patient’s lives, appear to have substantial benefits, including a higher tolerance for physical pain and symptoms and greater satisfaction with quality of life despite the presence of physically distressing symptoms such as pain and fatigue (Brady, MJ, et al, 1999).  In light of this growing understanding, this presentation will explore interventions that enhance the client’s sense of meaning, purpose, and hope despite the challenges of living with life-limiting illness.

Learning Objectives:

  • Describe the significance of meaning making as an important coping resource for people with advanced cancer
  • Identify the principles that underlie existential psychotherapy which may help to guide and inform work with patients with advanced cancer
  • Identify and describe 5 clinical interventions to use with patients living with advanced cancer

Friday, May 22
Relational Repair and Discord at the End-of-life: The Dying Wish of Forgiveness and its Unrepentant Consequences (Paper)
Christopher Anrig, LCSW-R, MSSW
1:45 p.m. – 2:35 p.m.

(2:45 p.m. Mountain, 3:45 p.m. Central, 4:45 p.m. Eastern)

The hope of relational repair at the end-of-life is almost as universal as the wish for forgiveness itself. Still, it remains unrealistic for many and can be a tremendous source of distress for patients and families. Working with patients and their families in the dying process, we frequently encounter relational conflicts and the unfulfilled wish for family reunion, for conflict resolution and for forgiveness.

This presentation will focus on what we as oncology social workers can do when things get ugly: when the emotional wounds cannot be undone, the conflicts are irreconcilable, and the end is messy. This talk will interweave relevant research, literature and theory with narrative and case examples to illuminate questions at the very heart of end-of-life care and grief work. With a focus on concepts such as reconciliation, mediation and forgiveness, this presentation will draw from diverse sources and case work.

Learning Objectives:

  • Assess available models for mediation and conflict resolution, family and grief therapy in the context of palliative and end of life care with high risk patients and families
  • Evaluate the efficacy of family meetings for resolving family conflict Illustrate the impact that social work intervention can have on relational repair at the end of life through case examples with a focus on conflict resolution, communication, and mediation

Friday, May 22
Closing Keynote Address
Making Moments Matter When it Matters Most: Transforming the Culture of Care
Shirley Otis-Green, MSW, ACSW, LCSW, OSW-C
2:45 p.m. – 3:35 p.m.

(3:45 p.m. Mountain, 4:45 p.m. Central, 5:45 p.m. Eastern)

Oncology social workers are charged to support our patients and families as they accommodate change, but we may feel limited in our confidence to create meaningful organizational change. If we are to provide quality care, we must hone our skills as organizational change agents, advocates and leaders. This interactive session will invite reflection upon what matters most while focusing upon developing strategies to implement lessons learned from the conference into your daily practice.

Learning Objectives:

  • Create a personal mission statement that clarifies the type of legacy you’d like to build within your professional practice
  • Identify two concepts that you can begin to implement upon your return
  • Articulate at least one strategy to address challenges that you may face when implementing change
  • Commit to taking steps to bring your mission statement to life