Social Work Spotlight: Leslie Kula-Leitner

Social Work Spotlight: Leslie Kula-Leitner

Leslie Kula-Leitner, MSW, LCSW, ACM-SW
Bereavement Counselor
Transitions Hospice

Education:
Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, Benedictine University
MSW, University of Illinois Urbana Champaign

Professional Background:
Post grad school, I worked for a year at Lexington of Bloomindale, a skilled nursing facility, as the Admissions & Social Services Director. After that, I was a Medical Social Worker in several departments at Alexian Brothers Medical Center. The last eight years, I was the Social Worker for the Palliative Care team at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
I have also had multiple internship experiences and part-time jobs, including working with kids who have autism spectrum disorder; a halfway house helping women with addictions; and a county community health center. I also have experience for about a year as a therapist in private practice.

Why did you become a social worker? Why did you become a hospice social worker?

I became a social worker because working with people and helping people was my interest. I am not a person who does well with routine, so I enjoy the unique situation that every person presents and the unknown of each day. I chose to pursue hospice work after my job in palliative care and some of my personal experiences with hospice.
I always viewed hospice workers as very special and truly see the honor of being a part of peoples’ end-of-life stage.

How would you describe your experience as a hospice social worker?

I have enjoyed the quality time I spend with patients, families and co-workers. I have been able to be a supportive force for patients and families during some of their darkest times. Most importantly, I have been able to provide comfort during a time it was needed most and reassurance for the future that grief isn’t something you get over…yet it is something you get through.

What advice would you have for someone who is thinking about becoming a hospice social worker?
I see hospice social work as more of a calling than a job. I do not think hospice work is for everyone, but if you hear the calling, I think it’s worth checking out!
I would also remind them about the importance of being a team player in hospice because no one can do this work well without the help of other members of the interdisciplinary team.