Congratulations to Jennifer Bires, LICSW, OSW-C, program coordinator of patient support services at the George Washington University (GW) Cancer Center. Bires will be named 2017 Oncology Social Worker of the Year at the Association of Oncology Social Work (AOSW) Annual Conference to be held May 31-June 2 in Denver.

Bires, the AOSW state representative for D.C., attributes the honor to the team that she works with at the GW Cancer Center. “I may have won this award, but I work with a great team of patient navigators, social workers, nurses, administrative staff, and doctors,” she said. “Everyone is truly part of this team.”

Oncology social workers are an integral part of a patient’s treatment team, Bires explained. They provide resources and communication channels between patients and their physicians and loved ones at a time when the patients are surprised and scared by their diagnosis. As a devoted oncology social worker, she has one message for everyone: “We live in a culture where people are scared to talk about and plan for death. These conversations are important for everyone, but especially people who have been diagnosed with cancer. Making sure your doctor and family know what’s important to you is critical to ensure that care aligns with goals and values.”

She also participated in the Zelda Foster Leadership Fellowship in palliative and end-of-life care provided by New York University, where she presented to peers and professionals on advanced care planning.

Along with another colleague, she will also deliver the Pain, Palliative Care, and End-of-Life SIG Presentation, “Advanced Care Planning: Understanding and Expanding the Social Work Role” at the AOSW conference.

For more information about the AOSW Oncology Social Worker of the Year Award, visit http://www.aosw.org/conferences-events-awards/2017-annual-conference/2017-awards-scholarships/