Decision Making

Topic: Impacts of decision making

By now you have developed an awareness that social workers are often placed into complex and challenging situations that often result in dilemmas and difficult decisions. While we would all love to think that every decision results in all parties benefiting, this simply is not true in real life. The calling that you have answered, the call to help the hurting, requires you to be thoughtful, wise, kind, and focused on what is best for the client. You may find yourself in a situation that challenges your own views and values, which may create your you an internal struggle in doing “the right thing.” This week, you will write an actual response to a client. Keep in mind, your post should be addressed to your client, and it should be framed as a response to your client. Do not write “What I would do here is ______.” This is your opportunity to make a decision, and deliver that decision to your client.


You are a hospital social worker that has been called in to help with a unique case. A 3-year-old little girl has been brought in with severe breathing problems. The man and woman that brought her to the hospital report that the girl has been sick for nearly a week, and she appears to be getting worse. She is pale, has a high fever, and has severely labored breathing. As you begin to talk with the couple that brought her in they report that they are not the girl’s parents but neighbors of the family. The couple was helping the girl’s family on their farm when they saw how sick she was. The girl’s parents are devout followers of a religious group that does not believe in medical care and they told the couple that they were allowing the girl to heal on her own without medical intervention. According to their beliefs, if someone receives medical treatment, they are at risk of not entering heaven. The couple talked the parents into allowing them to take the little girl for help, as they believe that she has gotten worse rather than better. Just as you begin to piece the story together, the doctor informs you that the girl has influenza and can probably be treated successfully. Shortly thereafter the parents arrive and explain that they have changed their minds and want to take the girl home to heal on her own, without medical intervention. The parents, as well as everyone in the family, are reported to have a fifth-grade education. According to their beliefs, children are not allowed to attend school beyond the fifth grade and are instead mandated to work on the family compound. The community often talks about the family and their odd behavior. The girls are required to wear dresses, and the boys all wear the same style of pants and button-down shirts. The women are rarely seen in town, and the men do not speak to anyone when they are in the community. The children always appear neat and clean, although they never speak.

Dilemma: As the member of a multi-disciplinary team, do you advocate for the doctors to keep and treat the child, or do you advocate for the parents to be able to take the child home?

If you choose to advocate for treatment, your post will be a letter to the child’s parents informing them of that decision.

If you choose to allow the child to return home without treatment, you will write your post to the couple that brought the child into the hospital.

This is your chance to make a decision, and deliver that decision to those impacted. Your post should reflect care, thoughtfulness and an ability to deliver tough news in a professional and caring manner.

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