Jason Szamreta discovered the Rutgers MSW program while on a quest to find a more fulfilling career after spending almost eighteen years working in the media industry. As a clinical student wrapping up his degree this May and co-chair of the Graduate student association (SSWGSA), Szamreta shares a glimpse into a typical day of a busy SSW graduate student.
By: Jason Szamreta '19
In this demanding program where we are tasked to care and advocate for others, it is equally important to care for ourselves. I do this by utilizing a routine that includes exercise, food and rest to complement the hard work. Everyone has a different approach to self-care, so I encourage you to do what works best for you.
At 6:00 AM, I wake to the incessant beep of my alarm clock. I hit snooze and try to trick myself that it's a day off. It doesn't work. Instead, I get up and brush my teeth.
By 6:20 AM, I pop in a T-25 DVD and start jumping around. It is a reasonable twenty-five minute workout-- much more than that and I'd probably opt for more sleep instead.
At 6:55 AM, after some minor perspiration, I throw two slices of multigrain bread into the toaster and head to the shower. After I scrub up and blow dry my hair, I finish prepping breakfast: peanut butter, all-fruit jam and chia seeds on toast and an iced coffee. I make my own cold-brew every week (I steep it for 24 hours in the fridge), which I enjoy with some french vanilla almond creamer. I drink it every day, year round. It's the best part of waking up.
By 7:30 AM, I am on the road to my internship. I work with the men's trauma track at Princeton House Behavioral Health in North Brunswick. It is an intensive out-patient program where I facilitate various education and training groups. It's an exciting placement that provides a robust clinical experience, exposure to various populations, and supervision with therapists who practice a wide-array of modalities. I highly recommend it for those students in the clinical track.
By 8:00 AM, I am at my desk and prepping materials for various groups that I will facilitate throughout the day, which include such topics as trauma education, CBT, anger management, fair fighting, and weekend planning, to name a few. The all-staff morning meeting begins at 8:45 AM and groups begin at 9:30 AM. During the morning group, I work with men who are processing different traumas they've experienced throughout their lives. This is my favorite part of the day. The work is fulfilling and it is exciting to apply the coursework I've learned from my time here at the SSW.
Around 12:45 PM, I sneak in a quick lunch and some additional prep for afternoon groups. I'll also do some note documentation for the morning groups during this time. Sometimes I will sit in on a grand-rounds meeting, which includes education on various patient and mental health-related topics like gender and sexual identity or paraphilic disorders.
At 1:15 PM, I may attend a group supervision with the other interns (there are six of us, total) which is led by one of the primary licensed therapists. Or, I may attend an individual supervision with my direct supervisor. Supervision is an important piece of the process where I am able to examine any potential counter-transference or reflect on a challenging situation and gain some personal and professional insight. For me, supervision is the professional form of self-care.
At 2:30 PM, I facilitate one of the final groups of the day. Recently, I facilitated a group on self-soothing skills, which discussed how the five senses can be employed to calm stressful or anxious thoughts. We used smooth stones, play-doh, and caramel candies to root us in the present moment by engaging our senses of touch, smell, and taste.
At 3:30 PM, I return to my office space and complete my group notes for the day and glance at tomorrow's schedule to see what lies ahead.
By 4:30-5 PM, I am back in my car and on the way home. I usually listen to NPR to learn about important social issues on the local, national, and international levels. If I had a particularly rough day, I listen to some singer-songwriter music. Again, this allows me to take care and shake of the stress of the workday. Tori Amos or Jason Mraz usually does the trick.
At around 5:30 PM, I arrive home at my condo. I am thrilled to see my partner, Dan, and decompress from the day. We share some dinner together (maybe a vegetarian stir fry or some roasted vegetables and tofu) and settle in to watch Jeopardy! Between the two of us, we'd make a fine contestant- he's got the science and geography down and I am good with the pop culture and random Cliff Clavin facts.
Around 7:30 PM, I read some chapters or articles for school and take some notes. If there's an upcoming paper, I work on that a bit. I check some e-mails, either personal or school-related.
Around 10:00 PM, I can hear the bed calling my name. It's the kind of call that I rarely ignore. Lights out shortly thereafter. Copious and restful sleep is an important aspect of self-care. Sweet dreams!