My Time Between Psych Degree and Social Work

For first time visitors to this blog, my name is Ann Lamphere, this is my story. I’m the adoptive parent of Kara Kay Lamphere Sansing.  I’m also an adoption social worker and have been the director of an adoption agency.

This is “My Adoption Life” story.  It is not the fairy tale life I wish I could be spinning.  This is my real life experiences with the darker side of living with a traumatized adopted child. These posts are my honest memories of what has turned out to be my life’s work.

My problem when I came home from Seattle (I was there doing a graduate program meeting) was to find a satisfying job.  Because I had been laid off the last job I had, I could file for unemployment. 

One of the requirements to receive unemployment was to apply to a new job at least twice a week.  I started keeping records and after a couple of months had racked up over 200 different places I had sent my resume to and over 25 in-person interviews.

So much for the end of 1988.  My daughter Kara gifted me with another grandchild, another boy she named Joseph.  By this time I had no clue where she was living.  She kept my sister Myra informed and Myra passed the information on to me.

Kara Lamphere

One thing Myra told was that Johnny, Kara’s husband had been arrested for spouse abuse and they almost arrested Kara who was pregnant at the time because when he hit her she clobbered him with a frying pan. Would this drama ever go away?

Jobs were scarce during the first 8 months of 1989.  I worked odd jobs and tried to figure out where my life was going.  Nothing seemed to be working out for me.  I was so depressed.

I finally focused on getting a job at the University of Utah.  I started at the School of Medicine’s Department of Family and Preventive Medicine (DFPM) in late January of 1990.  I looked into the Social Work program and discovered they were taking applications for the next year’s program.


The Social Work application and all required materials had to be in by February 15th. I crunched all the paperwork and threw the packet together and had it in the Social Work office on time. So much for hurry up and wait!

Since there wouldn’t be any decisions made in the SW program until early summer I wondered what to do for myself in education.  My friend, Sam was applying for a Nursing Management program at the University of Phoenix.  She said I should think about a graduate degree there.

Sam mentioned that the first class she was required to take was on Human Resource Management. I decided to take it with her.  The class was interesting and useful, but I really wanted to do Social Work.

DFPM was an interesting place.  Our office trained Family Practice (FP) physicians. My job when I first was hired was as a secretary to a Geriatric physician, Doctor “G” who I’ll say was an excellent diagnostician, but a not-so great supervisor.  He tried to throw his weight around and that’s not something I can tolerate very long.

My co-workers were some of the best people out there. They were really hard workers and good friends. The FP Chair was Joseph Hess, M.D. who I consider the most effective leader I ever worked for. If you did your job, he would go to the ends of the earth to protect you. 

When I finally had enough of Doctor “G,” I went to Dr. Hess and gave him my notice and he said, “Heck no, you’re not quitting. The office needs you and your skills.”


Doctor Hess called a meeting between our office manager, Dr. G and myself.  He asked me what my issues were. He then asked Dr. G what his were.  Dr. G started to complain about me, but Dr. Hess wasn’t having any of his ramblings. 

Doctor Hess told Dr. G that I was no longer his secretary and that I was now the assistant program coordinator for the Family Practice annual continuing education (CE) meetings. I was blown away.

Family Practice also had interns in their program.  The office manager, Kathy had me help her with the scheduling and meetings with potential interns for our program.  

The training meetings were a blast. Getting to know the doctors was a joy.  We scheduled 4 days of continuing education for the FP doctors usually in the early summer at that time.  There were booths of medical paraphernalia, pharmacies and other items doctor’s offices could use

Group of Doctors

The 3 years I spent working at DFPM were interesting and fulfilling. I learned what I was capable of doing and gained experiences that would become useful in my later careers. Yes, I said careers, because I’ve had several since 1993.

The Social Work Program finally made their decision around May of ’90. The admissions director called my office to see if she could meet with me.  We set up an appointment time and I was on pins and needles before she arrived. 

Of course she was kind and explained the unusual circumstances of meeting directly, since they usually sent out letters notifying the students of acceptance. Miracles of miracles, I was accepted! 

I had applied to the regular Social Work day program as well as the afternoon-evening program.  The glitch was that I had been accepted into both programs. Now I had to decide which one. 

I ultimately chose the afternoon-evening Social Work program so I could keep working. Dr. Hess was willing to work with me and make adjustments to my working schedule so that I was still working 40 hours a week. I was so grateful to him for his understanding.

Funny Doctor

The summer months passed quietly.  The FP continuing education went very well.  We did have a few glitches, like every conference has.  At one presentation, the videos wouldn’t work. At another one, the presenter became ill and we had to cancel his course. It was still a very good 4 days. 

Social Work: I was so excited to begin my Social Work program. The program had hours that were equivalent of some medical professionals, 60 credit hours.  Most Masters’ Programs are 45 credit hours. The Social Work hours included 2 practicum/intern placements. 

My first year was devoted to pure academics.  For the afternoon program, the first practicum didn’t begin until the second year.

At home things were getting a bit crazy.  My father began exhibiting symptoms of dementia.  He was normal most every day, but at night he seemed to become disoriented, a thing that medical professionals called “sun downing.” He would wake up in the middle of the night and wander around the house. 

My Dad

One night, I heard a loud thump that brought me awake quickly.  I found dad on the floor next to the couch.  He thought he was on the far end instead of the other side of the couch. Dad kept falling and it became obvious that he was going to need more help than either mom or I could give him. His health also seemed to be getting worse by the day.

One Saturday after dad tried to drown the bathroom, we called his doctor and had him admitted to a care center. Dad always thought he was in a hospital and we never said it was anything else.

We visited dad regularly and even celebrated Christmas with him.  The facility had a private dining room and we had dinner and opened gifts like we usually did.

The year had been a good year for me for the most part.  We worried about my dad, but he was where he would get good care and not stress mom or me anymore than necessary.

My Social Work classes began the first regular week of January.  The Gulf War “Operation Desert Storm” also started that week. The next week my father died of a stroke in the care center.  I began to wonder what else was going to go wrong that year.

The classes helped keep me going, so did my work.  Everyone was so supportive which was really helpful.  There were times when I almost lost it from the stress. I don’t give up very often, so I just kept going and going like the Energizer Bunny.

Thanks for reading. This story will continue in the next post.

Adoption agencies in Utah that I support:

Wasatch International Adoptions

Children’s Service Society

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Published by annla1441

Adoption Social Worker. Lived in Utah

2 thoughts on “My Time Between Psych Degree and Social Work

  1. Hi Ann! I enjoyed reading your latest post. I look forward to hearing more about your journey through the Social Work program. I’m glad you had a community of people to help you through your loss. 🙂 ~WB

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