Political Science Alumna Finds Career in Social Work
Liz Single’s path to a career in oncology social work started with a major you may not expect: political science.
Single, the supervisor for Sibley Memorial Hospital’s Center for Patient and Family Services in Washington, D.C., earned her bachelor’s degree in political science from NC State. The degree, she says, not only opened her eyes to her current field but has deep connections to health care.
“We can see how policies affect patients with direct care and how insurance issues can translate into not being able to afford a drug for chemotherapy,” Single says. “So I really appreciate having my political science background because it helps me see how policy can affect patients.”
At Sibley Memorial, Single and her team work to ensure that patients who are battling cancer face as few barriers to care as possible. She and her colleagues offer a range of care, services and support groups to help meet the psychological, social, emotional and practical needs of patients and their families.
I really appreciate having my political science background because it helps me see how policy can affect patients.
Single’s first formal introduction to social work occurred during an introductory course she took at NC State. While on campus, Single also participated in the service club Circle K International.
“Social work sort of tied everything together,” she notes.
After graduating from NC State in 2007, Single pursued a master’s degree in social work at the University of Maryland, Baltimore. During the program, Single interned with Johns Hopkins Medicine and was introduced to social work in a health care setting.
Before joining the program, Single’s mother was diagnosed with cancer. “It was a little bit of a personal thing for me,” Single says, “I wanted to learn how to help other people, including her.” After earning her master’s in 2012, she began her career in oncology social work.
Looking back on her time at NC State, Single has many fond memories — and some advice for students. “Take advantage of everything NC State has to offer,” Single – says. “Soak up as much as you can. I would recommend studying abroad.” (While at NC State, Single studied abroad in France.) “My minor is in French, and I wanted to be able to use it before I graduated,” she adds. It was in France that she learned the differences in policies between France and the U.S.
Ultimately, Single values her political science background because it helps her see her patients from a different viewpoint. Knowing the challenges they face and the roadblocks they encounter when receiving care makes her a better social worker and a better advocate for patients.
This post was originally published in College of Humanities and Social Sciences.