Sherry Mergner is a clinical assistant professor and AHEC liaison at the UNC School of Social Work. She is also part of the LEND Clinical Faculty at the Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities.
What are your roles at the UNC School of Social Work and the Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities, and how have your responsibilities changed since University employees began working remotely?
I wear many different hats in my job and am used to multitasking. I coordinate UNC School of Social Work faculty, field instructors and doctoral students who travel across the state offering continuing professional development training to the nine Area Health Education Centers. That has not changed much in terms of daily communication. However, I have had to do all my meetings with students and clients via Zoom. I supervise graduate students who are part of the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities training program at the Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities. I also supervise master’s students who are doing their field placements at CIDD. These students will see clients with me in clinical practice via online or telephone sessions once a week. I work part-time at CIDD and have eight clients with intellectual/developmental disabilities and/or autism on my caseload.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced when transitioning to remote work?
I am used to working independently and, as an introvert, I find working at home enjoyable. I have two adult children, one with autism, so this has been the ideal job for making my own schedule around them. However, social distancing measures added an extra layer to my work life because my clients suddenly needed more support during the transition. Being faced with an influx of work, while learning various remote systems and helping my children transition to a “new normal” definitely had its challenges. I had to learn to make time for self-care.
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