Helpline Available 24/7
Call (833) 976-4357

It’s Social Work Month! Meet Amanda Jernigan

Table of Contents

March is National Social Work Month (NSWM) and to celebrate, we’re highlighting some of the incredible social workers on our team here at Gaudenzia. Today, we’re turning the spotlight on Amanda Jernigan, LCSW. Amanda helps Gaudenzia save lives every day as one of our two Corporate Outpatient Directors (see our spotlight on her team counterpart, Andrew Schmitt here).

Amanda holds a master’s degree in social work from the University of Albany in New York. She began her journey working in inpatient psychiatric services in a hospital setting for adults and adolescents before going on to work with adolescents in various settings for most of her career. After time spent working as a school social worker, she started working in the substance use disorder (SUD) treatment field and never looked back.

We’re so grateful to Amanda for taking the time to answer our questions. Keep reading to learn more about her journey and her excellent insights on the field of Social Work.

Can You Describe a “Day in the Life” of Your Current Position?

A day in my life looks different every day, and that’s what I love most about my job! Some days, it’s working on auditing charts, some days it’s being on site at facilities with staff. Sometimes I am out training people, and sometimes I am doing supervision. That variety is what keep me coming back every day. If I had to come in and do the same thing every day, I would not be happy. When every day looks a little different, it keeps things interesting and engaging. I never find myself dreading going to work.

How Do You Interpret the 2023 National Social Work Month Theme of “Social Work Breaks Barriers?”

When I first came into the field, I thought I would be doing direct therapy with clients until I retired. This is what we were taught in school, and it led me to believe that this is where my career would be focused. I remember after graduating college and working in the field, I would overhear people saying, “She talks to people for a living,” if someone asked them what I did. It made me feel like Lucy from the cartoon Peanuts, with my little sign that said psychiatry and 5 cents. I literally thought that was my reality early on in my career.

As the years went on, however, I was given amazing opportunities that I never considered outside the world of direct practice. It made me realize how far and wide social work can stretch, and how it can break the barriers of traditional stereotypes that people associate with being a social worker.

What Are the Biggest Challenges Social Workers Face Today?

I think the biggest challenges for social workers today is there is not a shortage of work.  As social workers, we want to help as many people as we can. As a result, we often overextend ourselves and take care of ourselves last. Since Covid-19, there seem to be even more people in need of help. Unfortunately, the lack of resources is real. This causes those working in the field to want to work harder and longer hours to help those in need, again neglecting to care for themselves or allowing themselves time to recuperate. 

How Do You Practice Self-Care and Prevent Burnout?

My family is my saving grace from burnout. I am a baseball mom. My husband and I spend nine months out of the year on a baseball field somewhere. Outside of being a baseball mom to a human, I am also a dog mom to three dogs, and I enjoy walking them and working on their training with them. I love to read and enjoy anything related to true crime. With all the traveling I do for work, I can often be found listening to a true crime podcast. When not traveling, I am glued to the Investigation Discovery (ID) network and watch anything related to true crime. 

Where Do You Think the Social Work Field is Headed in the Next Five to Ten Years?

With the ability to do telehealth, we can go anywhere, and we can keep services consistent with the use of this platform. Before, if clients were sick, or if their car broke down, or if their babysitter didn’t show, they had to miss treatment services to tend to every day needs. Now, we can accommodate them by offering hybrid options, which allow them to attend services via telehealth while others are attending in person. I expect the field to grow to use telehealth to its maximum capacity while continuing to promote accessibility and availability to treatment services. 

What is Your Advice for Social Workers Entering the Field Right Now?

When I first started in this field, I wanted to be a therapist, and that was it. I had no idea what other opportunities may be available. If something seems interesting to you and you feel passionate about it, be willing to take the risk and try it. If an opportunity to learn something new becomes available, do it! You may learn something you can incorporate into your practice, so never say never, because by doing that, you confine yourself to a box. You should never stop challenging, growing, and learning — no matter how many years you are in the field. 

Social Workers on the Front Lines

We are so grateful to team members like Amanda for the care, compassion, and expertise they bring to work every day. From all of us here at Gaudenzia, happy National Social Work Month!

If you or someone you love needs help with substance use and co-occurring disorders, please call Gaudenzia’s 24-hour Treatment and Referral HelpLine at 833.976.HELP (4357) or email [email protected] today.

We’re on social media! Follow Gaudenzia on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn — and don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel for updates and educational content.

Table of Contents