ACA Blog

Robbin Miller
Sep 07, 2010

Inequities in Job Opportunities for Counselors-Part II

Last week, I wrote that I was denied an interview for social worker due to not being able to use an assessment tool called the MDS (Minimum Data Set) to assess functioning levels for elders in a nursing home. Below is the response I received from a representative from the Massachusetts Senior Care Association regarding the correct information on who can administer the MDS tool: "With the exception of the RN Assessment Coordinator, CMS does not mandate the types of personnel who complete the MDS. According to the MDS 2.0 manual on page 1-18, it’s up to the facility to determine who completes the MDS sections based on what staff are available and how they can best fit the assessment into their daily process. Although no specific qualifications are needed, the facility is responsible for training the staff in the correct assessment and coding of the MDS items to ensure that the assessment is being done correctly."

As you see reading it, there is no information specifying that an individual has to be a social worker to use the instrument. It is true that a nurse has to sign off on it as I indicated in last week’s blog.

Apparently, the interviewer gave me incorrect information that was given to her by their “consultant” in the nursing home. It is too bad as there are qualified licensed mental health counselor who can use the MDS instrument based upon their previous work experience like me. It may be a blessing that I did not get the interview as I probably would not been hired anyway.

Where do I go from here? I continue to look for jobs as I have an interview at a family counseling center this work as a clinician. Though my dream job is to be a program manager/clinician in either a healthcare or non-profit setting, I will do my best to market my skills to this employer. The jobs available to counselors either licensed or not are mainly counseling positions. I have not found one where a “counselor” can apply for a position that involves case management; education; psychosocial assessments; and doing outreach. These jobs are being marketed to social workers with either a bachelors or above. I have a seen a few opportunities for adjunct instructors to teach courses in Psychology and Social Work. These jobs are few and next to nil due to the colleges giving these positions to Ph.Ds who are having difficulties looking for tenured positions.

I would like to let everyone know that I am still collecting partial unemployment for the last twelve months. I had a great part-time job as a care manager (salary with benefits) for elders and for persons with disabilities where I can still see a few clients in my private practice and at a local family clinic. Please note that this job called for an individual with a social work background or with equivalent experience either on the bachelors or masters level. Unfortunately, due to age discrimination, (in which I have filed a discrimination suit against this employer), I am not able to sustain a living with working at a family clinic (fee for service) and being in a small private practice. This situation says it all when it comes to equitable salary opportunities being available and sustainable for licensed mental health counselors to make a respectable living.

Robbin Miller is a counselor who specializes in mindfulness meditation; Positive Psychology; and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapies; and is also a volunteer cable access producer and co-host of her show, "Miller Chat" in Massachusetts.

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