Scheeler works with and educates cancer patients, professionals

Kristin Scheeler, MSSW '05
Oncology Social Worker, UW Carbone Cancer Center

After earning her B.A. in psychology, Kristin Scheeler hoped to work with people in a counseling setting. When she learned that she could become a therapist with a MSW and have the flexibility to pursue other directions with her career, she joined the MSW program at the School of Social Work.


Scheeler went on to work in a variety of settings: as a review officer for the Enfield Council in London, as a case manager for the West Madison Senior Coalition and as a hospice social worker for Agrace HospiceCare. Scheeler is now an oncology social worker at the UW Carbone Cancer Center, where she works in an outpatient setting with adults who have been diagnosed with cancer.


Walk us through a typical day in the life at your job.

I do a variety of things every day, from the routine, such as teaching people about Social Security benefits as well as Medicaid and Medicare, to the unique, including helping the family of a patient with advanced cancer take a trip to Florida. I have some scheduled time that involves meetings and patient assessments, and some time where I carry a pager and respond to whatever comes my way. I also facilitate advance care planning conversations and perform comprehensive psychosocial evaluations for patients undergoing risky treatments. I love learning the science behind cancer and cancer treatment, and am constantly learning new things about anatomy, medications, and the psychological and socioeconomic impact of cancer on people. In my job, I also educate other health professionals about psychosocial issues related to cancer care.


What is the most memorable or valuable experience you had with the School of Social Work?

The field placements were valuable to me, especially my first field placement in a nursing home. My field supervisor, who is still my friend 12 years later, was incredibly influential in helping me develop my skills both as a social worker and as a human being. I am still grateful to her for all she has done for me. I also am grateful for all of the options at the School to study end of life, death, dying and grief; I took every class on those topics that I could find and enjoyed myself incredibly. I also gathered data for a study of Tracy Schroepfer’s where I interviewed older adult hospice patients in their homes. Tracy taught me some very important research and clinical concepts and skills that I use daily in my current job.

Do you have any advice for current students in the School of Social Work to prepare themselves for their future careers?

When you are in your field setting, soak up as much as you can. Show your curiosity, drive, professionalism and interest in learning. Treat your placement like it’s your first professional job. It doesn’t matter whether you know all you need to know for the placement as long as you are curious, open to learning and want to better your knowledge. In the classroom, try to improve your interviewing, writing, and communication skills, taking any critique as a gift to help you improve. I was too sensitive at times, but I can see now that critique truly is a gift to help you improve your skills.

Last edited by karnaky on Wednesday, June 24, 2015 | Printer Friendly Version