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Research on the experiences of empowerment in supervision: From the perspectives of medical social workers
Medical social work
The fact that medical social workers feel disempowered on a regular basis in a highly professional development of the medical environment may affect the capacity of the disadvantaged case individual as well as his/her family. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to explore the supervisee’s experiences of empowerment with his/her supervisors and the process of transforming them into their own power, which may serve as a reference source for medical social supervisors to shape the strategy of empowering their supervisees. This study adopts the qualitative research method and includes in-depth interviews of eight medical social workers to explore the experiences of the supervisees who go through disempowerment, empowerment, and eventually fight for equal professional rights by means of their supervisors’ empowerment. The results of the study show that the social workers who feel disempowerment in the aspects of personal professional skills, teamwork and social work departments may initiate a four-stage empowerment process in which the supervisees find the improvement in their inner strength, refocus on their works, recognize the value of work and embark on fighting for professional equality as a result of the supervisors’ empowerment conducts including strengthening the supervisees' personal expertise and enhancing their capacity to have conversations with the other members in medical teams. Therefore, as far as the practice of medical social work is concerned, the following four suggestions have been put forward. First, it is suggested that the training programs for the supervisors be integrated into the general education and training courses of the social work department. Second, collaborative partnerships between the supervisor and the supervisee should be established. Third, the supervisor is expected to lay great emphasis on his/her own example. Last, the supervisees are expected to remind themselves of self-empowerment through the relationship of supervision. As far as the medical social work supervision system goes, it is suggested that adjustments should be made by phases depending on one’s seniority. A structural supervision system is to be applied to new staff, while the self-supervision of their professional task is to be applied to those with the service length of more than three years. As to strengthening the organization's empowerment strategy, it is suggested that more than two sources of power are to be established for the internal department of social work within the hospital so as to validate the presence of the department. Last but not least, the professional medical social groups should seek collective awareness of the medical social work content, and contain the influence of the hospital employers on the medical social work through external forces .
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