Alumnae/i Feature

Carmen Benjamin ’20MSW: I Evolved Into the Clinician I Aspired to be

What the job entails

Headshot of Carmen Benjamin

Carmen is an adult outpatient clinical social worker in the Psychiatry Department at Boston Medical Center. She provides mostly long-term therapy to patients with a range of mental health conditions. Counseling over 100 clients on a weekly, biweekly, or monthly basis, she handles assessment and diagnosis, formulates treatment plans, and collaborates closely with a multidisciplinary team. “This is my passion,” she says. “Not one day is the same for me, but I get to be a constant in my clients’ lives.”

What brought her to Simmons

A graduate of Walden University with a degree in criminal justice, Carmen was working as a lead patient navigator in the Mass General Cancer Center when she attended a School of Social Work open house. “That was the deciding factor,” she recalls. “Three out of the four faculty members on the panel looked like me. As a woman of color, I felt at home.” The flexibility of the Extended-Study Program also allowed her to keep her full-time job.

To help and empower clients from a multitude of cultural and ethnic backgrounds gives me so much joy.

How Simmons prepared her

Carmen entered Simmons with an interest in hospital social work but was open, she says, “to letting the journey unfold organically.” Her first field placement was at Ethos, a social service agency for older adults. She assessed individuals in their homes for depression and barriers to care, connected them to resources, and served as a visiting companion.

In her second year, Carmen began the Certificate in Health Care & Social Work and was accepted into the federally funded Simmons Integrated Mental Health Primary Care and Clinical Training (SIMPACT) program. She received “phenomenal preparation” through in-class simulations with actors and courses taught by professors active in the field. “In every class,” she says, “I felt like I was getting the best of the best.”

As part of SIMPACT’s focus on integrated interdisciplinary care, Carmen completed a placement in the Integrated Care Management Program at Mass General. Working in the primary care clinic and inpatient floors, she helped to support and coordinate health care for 16 patients with complex medical needs. “I evolved into the clinician I aspired to be, with passion, compassion, and confidence,” she says.

Why it’s rewarding

Carmen, who hopes to pursue a Doctorate of Social Work from Simmons, sums up her love for her career with a quote by Maya Angelou: “If you find it in your heart to care for somebody else, you will have succeeded.” In her own words, she adds, “To help and empower clients from a multitude of cultural and ethnic backgrounds gives me so much joy.”

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