From the classroom to the community: social work alum trains the next generation of change agents

Word cloud - trainingIn her eighties, Barbara Broesamle still finds time to mentor and guide Wayne State University (WSU) social work students by helping them prepare for their licensure exam. In fact, someone once told Barbara that in her career she has mentored more than 1,000 interns from schools all across the mitten state.

Barbara received her master’s in 1989 from the WSU School of Social Work. She began her social work career supervising the reunification of prisoners and their families for Oakland County jails and went on to work for more than 30 years at Common Ground in Oakland County. Barbara also worked for twelve years at Harper Hospital in the heart of Detroit.

Barbara remembers her time at Wayne State fondly. Barbara’s experiences working with the most underserved communities were especially fulfilling, including her student field placement at Harper Hospital. Before she finished her placement at the hospital, her supervisor told her to keep her keys as she would be returning shortly as a full-time employee. This began a 12 year career at Harper Hospital where she worked with clients suffering from substance dependency. During her time at Harper, Barbara worked in the inpatient drug rehabilitation department with a psychiatrist colleague.

Although it is now common for social workers to work in interdisciplinary settings with fellow allied healthcare professionals, this was an uncommon occurrence at the time and Barbara was a trailblazer showing the vital need for social workers to have a seat at the medical team table.

Gear iconSocial workers became an integral part of the medical team at Harper and Barbara’s Masters in Social Work gave her the knowledge and skills to provide improved patient outcomes upon their release.

At Common Ground, Barbara worked with interns from various schools and programs from across the state. After supervising students from various programs and levels, including doctoral students, it was clear to Barbara that the most successful students were the ones who had a positive student experience with their university. These were the interns who were willing to work hard and took their experience in the field seriously.  Barbara continues to work today with the School of Social Work, it’s students and Anwar Najor-Durack, Assistant Dean for Student Affairs. Anwar and Barbara spent many years working together to ensure Wayne State students were prepared for professional practice once they transitioned upon graduation from the classroom to the community.

Today, Barbara is retired from Common Ground and working with a few students on their licensing exams. She enjoys spending time with family and staying healthy. She never took a sick day while she was working and does not intend to start while in retirement.

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