Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Step One Towards Change

Complete my 45 credits necessary to maintain my Michigan LMSW license.

The very thought of this has been a bit daunting. Michigan happens to have some of the LEAST social work friendly licensing laws. I know because I'm also licensed to practice in New York... and have had to investigate licensing in... oh... several states in the last few years. Michigan's kind of on a clinical social worker's shit list. I could go into it but since the majority of you have no idea what I'm talking about I won't.

A couple years ago Michigan decided to tack on a continuing education requirement. Fine. I actually think that's responsible practice. However the requirement is 45 fucking credits. That is a lot folks. A lot.

To put it in perspective in New York I don't have to do ANY. I just have to maintain my license, and if I'm working (which I'm not and they allow me to specify that) attend child abuse training. The end.

In Michigan on top of paying for your license, you have to pay for the credits. You could easily spend a thousand dollars doing so. Oh.... and... the time. Most continuing education offerings are small weekend seminars, and more recently day or evening classes. These are not only not cheap but also require childcare... which... (outside of the fact that I'm not even in Michigan) we can't afford.

When you are working full time (in my experience of working in the clinic of a large agency) your employer will often both pay for the credits and also schedule them as part of your work day. Obtaining these credits while NOT working and staying home with your kids becomes nearly impossible.

The first year Baby was an infant and nursing around the clock and I couldn't attend any seminars. The next year we moved HERE.... so... um... can't attend any courses or seminars.

Well in light of recent events I thought "shit when is my credit deadline?!!!". These days it just seems like a good idea for me to be prepared to support my family at a moments notice. And it seems like a good idea not to get a permanent "failure to comply" mark on my license... you know... it's probably bad enough that I've been out of the workforce for 8 years.

It turns out I need to get my 45 credits before April 30th. That's six months. I already have a full plate these days. Fortunately I seem to have found a distance learning program that will allow me to earn the credits through home study and testing. Better than that it saves me about $700 over the local Ann Arbor community college courses I would have taken. Yes it sounds too good to be true... but it's nationally accredited... and if I'm audited at least I can show I made a good faith attempt to fulfill my credit hours while living out of state. That should count for something!

So yesterday I felt like a freaking rock star. I had the little baby all day. And I still managed to do three loads of laundry... including folding them and PUTTING THEM AWAY. I took the kids to the grocery store (sure the little baby puked all over the cart... but whatever) and PUT AWAY THE GROCERIES. I called Mr F to say "I am really having a productive day". Usually when I'm babysitting I really can't do any household chores... and with my brother coming today and Disney this weekend that was stressing me out. And I also started my coursework for a two credit ethics class. See? I was functioning at 150%.

Then the little baby got picked up and his aunt (a teacher at Kid's school) said "Where's Kid?". As it turns out Kid had a HALF DAY OF SCHOOL.

So while I was busy over achieving on the home front I ended up paying for Kid to attend after care. How much does after care cost? OH... a dollar more an hour than I make babysitting. So instead of making money yesterday... I worked all day... and LOST money!

I would like to point out that I DO NOT think it is a coincidence that the school, that NEVER forgets to send out multiple reminders when we are approaching a fundraising deadline, does not send out reminders when there are half days. Because for every parent that forgets they are automatically paying the school for childcare for the remainder of the school day. See how nicely that works out?

So what was the point? The point is that trying to juggle staying home full time, with babysitting 30 hours a week, with earning these credits is going to be a bit taxing.

The good news is last night I finished the coursework and scored a 100% on my test... and I actually enjoyed it... because I'm a nerd and school is my strong suit (who got a 4.0 in their Master's program?... oh yeah... me). All while helping Kid with her homework, making dinner, and getting a full workout in.

That's 2 credits down... 43 to go.

And that's Step One in our plan.


AT22 said...

I'm glad you found the distance courses. Attorneys have continuing education in most states, and all of them have distance courses. Of course, you only need 12-15 credits in most states. And there are no tests. 45 is ridiculous.

Smitty said...

Actually, the National Association of Social Workers Michigan Chapter is one of my clients. Long story on the continuing ed piece. It has to do with proving LMSW's equality to PhD-level Psychologists/Psychiatrists. Scope of Practice issues are HUGE battles, as the more advanced-degree folks are continually worrried about Masters-level folks like LPCs and LMSWs "creeping-in" on their scope of practice.

The NASW in MI right now is fighting those "PhD folks" regarding Juvenile Justice and who is qualified to assess a juvenile as incompetent to stand trial.

Smitty said...

Let me look into thr 45 credit thing, though. That seems innaccurate to some degree. Lemme look into flexibility. This was a change made before I started representing them 4 years ago, but seems likme NASW wouldnt have agreed to something so high without some sorta caveat.

As for jobs for social workers in MI...the MI Dept of Human Services needs to hire 120 LMSWs before the end of next year to do foster care casework, or we get fined by the feds. Of course, you've seen MI's fiscal situation, so it might be cheaper for a year or two to pay the fine... :(

Mrs Furious said...

Interesting. When I moved to MI I was shocked and pissed to find out that CSWs (that is what I was called at the time now changed to LMSW) could not bill insurance directly in private practice without being under a PhD or Dr. That is not the case in NY. And being a clinical social worker with specific training (more clinical hours than Psychologists!) it is more than annoying. It really ticks me off.
If there is a loop hole to the 45 hours let me know! It's hard to follow along with all the changes on the State website.

seriously.. it's a lot. Especially when you save it up till the last 6 months ;)

Mrs Furious said...

"so it might be cheaper for a year or two to pay the fine."
That's disturbing. I used to work foster care and even when it's running right.. it's not good.

carrie said...

I knew I liked you. I've never met anyone who loves school as much as I do. Most people just make fun of me! :)
--From a fellow 4.0 Masters mega-nerd

Mrs Furious said...

That is the only upside to the situation... I actually loved reading the course work and taking the test. And since it's a distance learning program I can choose whatever topics I want instead of attending whatever classes happen to be running at the right time. I can take 45 random classes. Tourette Syndrome?!! Meth abuse?! Bring that shit on!

trifitmom said...

holy cow i feel productive just reading the post !! that would have made me FURIOUS if i wound up paying for after care and not making money. i would not have let go of that one......

Andrea said...

way to go Mrs.F you are my hero now my yesterday seems measly today is a new day!

Mrs Furious said...

Also worth noting...

In Michigan psychologist have to do... NO continuing education.

Preppy Mama said...

Oh I am dreading mine. I had until last week to send in my license renewal...crap I forgot. Do they penalize you if you are not working? I'm in NY.

Mrs Furious said...

Oh I was FURIOUS. I believe I said "FUCK IT!!!"
Now I've been dying to know... how do you feel about walking away from the old blog?!!

lately, since babysitting this Fall, I am operating on a whole other level. It's crazy how much more stuff I do than I did before. I am exhausted though... and sometimes I just feel like it all isn't worth the effort.

Mrs Furious said...

Preppy Mama,
No. There is a grace period for renewal. And you just sign a waiver stating that you aren't working with kids. You just owe the money! Which reminds me I need to update NY with my new address so they can hound me for it ;)

Staci said...

In Michigan psychologist have to do... NO continuing education.

That is crap. Even personal trainers have to do continuing ed to keep their certs.

Crazy how this whole world works.

Excited to read about the changes the Furious Family is making.

Have a FUN Disney vaca!

Smitty said...

Mrs. F:

The NASW-Michigan recently approved a deal with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, which covers 70% of MI's insured population, for LMSWs to bill BCBSM directly for services, including diagnosis and treatment.

As for the 45 hours, I talked to the NASW's executive director in MI. She says:

Social workers have to get 45 CEs every three years, so it averages only 15 CEs a year – all of which they can get by attending our 2-day annual conference every year. Additionally, they can get 12 CEs if they attend LEAD every year for three years.

Mrs Furious said...

thanks for checking

unfortunately I am at the end of my 3 year license so I'll have to clock in those credits now. If we had been in MI it would have been easier to do the seminars but still expensive. And I still think those requirements are a screw job.

awesome news about the billing. I really felt like I had pretty much kissed my career plans and training goodbye when we moved to MI.

Mr Furious said...

It has to do with proving LMSW's equality to PhD-level Psychologists/Psychiatrists. Scope of Practice issues are HUGE battles, as the more advanced-degree folks are continually worrried about Masters-level folks like LPCs and LMSWs "creeping-in" on their scope of practice.

That's bullshit.

LMSWs make what, $30K a year? PhDs make up to ten times that amount? And it's the LMSWs that are forced to bear the cost burden of continuing ed? Like everything else in this country, if you have the $$$ you can pull the strings and take care of your own in D.C. (or Lansing...)

Mrs Furious said...

It is full on crazy

Mr F,
"LMSWs make what, $30K a year? PhDs make up to ten times that amount?"
in Michigan at least. In NY I actually had a shot of having a decent private practice or being the head of an agency. NY is very pro social worker as mental health professional in a clinical setting. The universities in MI with social work schools are not clinical programs. NYU is the last clinical social work school. In MI I was offered that job as "Director of Social Work" running the entire mental health dept of a nursing home facility and it paid $32K.
I don't know about states other than in NY... but in NY it was understood that an MSW was not a lesser degree than a PhD in a clinical mental health setting... it was a different degree. This shit really pisses me off. In the ed alliance clinic the PhDs testing, the MSWs did diagnosis and treatment. The clinics were entirely staffed by social workers. We signed off on our own damn work.

Me, Only Better said...

I find this all quite interesting. I am completing my BSW right now, and applying for my MSW.

In Canada, no one in the SW field makes tons of money, but certainly a MSW puts you more into the 45-50K range depending on where you work.

Still, I sometimes wish I had choosen a profession with better pay and less stress.

I am not a 4.0 student, but I am a 3.8 student (and with three kids I think it's not bad!)

Maybe I will get 4.0 in my MSW!

Mrs Furious said...

Me, Only Better,
3.8 with 3 kids is more than not bad. I had no kids, no job, no outside stress.

pay wise it really depends on the job... it can be mid to high 20s (yes believe it) to 60K.

I'm actually planning to go back to school and get my RN. It will take me 2 years and after that I can make much more money with much greater time flexibility as a nurse than I can as a social worker.

Smitty said...

if you have the $$$ you can pull the strings and take care of your own in D.C. (or Lansing...)

So true. What it comes down to, in my mind, is fear of mis-investing in your own future. Psychiatrists have the ultimate trump card: they can write scrips. Nobody else can, because they are MDs. Fine. So why, then, do they even engage in these arguments??

Psychologists are different. They are facing the fact that LMSWs and LPCs are as qualified to diagnose, have practice acts (the laws that create their licensure) that allow for diagnosis and treatment, LMSWs and LPCs log more clinical hours...but Psychologists spent all that extra time getting their Doctorate. Well, if I invested that much in my education, I should get something for it, right?

In my mind, no. In MI, every county...all 83...have at least one LMSW and at least 1 LPC. The same can not be said of psychologists. This is an access to mental health issue. So, good for you for taking the extra ed, but don't sit on your high horse in Oakland fucking county bitching about LMSWs taking practice, when these folks are practicing in Antrim or Gogebic where there is little no no access to service.

Mrs Furious said...

"In my mind, no."

Especially in a clinical setting where you are talking about a 2 year difference in education between a LMSW and a PhD... BUT... that is made up for in the 2 years of unpaid clinical interships the MSWs have over the PhD. A PsyD only has 1 year of clinical. And if you are hardcore like me and have a BSW & a MSW you have 3 years of clinical interships. So I call that a wash it is the same amount of education just one is achieved on site and one is achieved on campus.

Mrs Furious said...

And I don't know about the PhD license for practice but in MI you need two years of clinical supervision AFTER the MSW to get licensed. So that is a minimum of 4 years of clinical experience. And in NY I had to take a crazy ass psychotic test to get my clinical license (think LSAT for social workers).

Goddamn it! I'm all fired up now!

Mr Furious said...

Fuck Michigan! We're staying in North Carolina!


lucinda said...

Access is right. I live in Iosco County and there is not one clincal practice that takes private patients. Not one.

Amy said...

Well so I probably missed it but are you planning to go back to work part-time or are you just making sure that your license is active? I hope it's the latter. I'm in the same boat as you except I have 36 CEU's due every 3 years and like you, since I have no full time employer, the burden of paying for those CEU's, in whatever form, falls on me. Fortunately the occupational therapy association can be fairly liberal in what they will consider for CEU's or else I'd be totally screwed. Also, the director over that particular division of the association is one of my former professors...and that has come in handy :) I wish you luck in pulling together that many credits in such a short amount of time but hey, you're able to work miracles right? You blog about them all the time. And if you've forgotten, please just go back and look at your Christmas boxes you made last year for gifts. I'm still telling people about those.

Mrs Furious said...

Oh you are so sweet. I will send you a Christmas box this year! You deserve it after giving me the caramel corn recipe!
I'm not planning to go back to work now... but I need to make sure my license doesn't lapse... and if things don't pan out on certain fronts it's possible I might go back to work (that would be with Mr F working freelance from home). Either way I do feel I need to be prepared.

katieo said...

Good for you! Step One sounds awesome. A little overwhelming maybe...but good. sooo smart to be prepared.

and honestly? You did two credits in one day? 43 more seems stressful and taxing...but doable, right? Especially after Christmas during the dreaded Janufebs. You can do it!!

gooddog said...

Hmmm. this is sounding eeeerily familiar.

Jan 2009 i realized that I had 100 CEUs to do by the end of the month to keep up my counseling accreditation. I had 5 years to do them but hey, kids, no work, etc had all happened.

I busted those babies out online in 3 weeks. For real. I looked on all kinds of sites for the best deals on each class. Like you, I actually loved learning all that new stuff! It had been years.

I think I was the only person in the history of the NBCC to show up on their doorstep (because they're headquartered in greensboro for some odd reason) and hang in my CEUs in person, with a toddler on my hip!

Enjoy the learning!

Mrs Furious said...

" I busted those babies out online in 3 weeks. "
Wow! That is impressive!

"Especially after Christmas during the dreaded Janufebs."
Good point... that makes me think it won't be so bad.

Kiki said...

1. Kind of glad I didn't pursue Social Work in college now that I see what you're going through.
2. I love school... You're making me want to go back which puts a crimp in the financials.
3. What about being a professor? For you? Could you teach? Would you want to?
4. You're Superwoman, I can't believe how uber productive you were!!

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