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"The Yo-Yo Effect": U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Social Workers' Experiences with Job Flexibility during the Pandemic.

Kranke D, Gioia D, Alenkin N, Mudoh Y, Solorzano E, Dobalian A. "The Yo-Yo Effect": U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Social Workers' Experiences with Job Flexibility during the Pandemic. Social work. 2023 Jun 15; 68(3):230-239.

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Social work turnover from the emotional overload of providing care during the pandemic has created staff shortages and exposed many gaps in service delivery. Those social workers who sustained employment during this pandemic are asked to take on flexible/additional roles to fill in those gaps in services to their most vulnerable clients. This qualitative study (N = 12) of U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) inpatient social workers at two sites across the country assesses their experiences of taking on additional roles at their respective VA facility. Three research questions were addressed to the participants: (1) Describe your roles and responsibilities during the COVID-19 pandemic? (2) How did those responsibilities change/evolve over time? and (3) Did you receive training for your new roles or tasks? Thematic analysis revealed six themes that would facilitate effectiveness and continuity of care: (1) recognizing insufficient training to handle a pandemic, (2) meeting the demand for care, (3) responding to unexpected aspects of flexibility, (4) adjusting to new roles over time, (5) adaptation and support, and (6) additional resources to simplify efforts. With COVID rates stabilizing across much of the United States, now is the time to implement trainings and education about job flexibility in the future instance of a pandemic.

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