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Colleagues surprise social worker of the year

Wednesday, August 26, 2020
By Morag Maclachlan
A Allen

Clinical social worker Allison Allen, MSW, LCSW, is a member of the committee that plans the annual Social Worker of the Year award celebration. She thought it was odd she hadn't heard how the department would recognize this year's recipient virtually. That's because she was the 2020 awardee.

“We were having our weekly virtual check-in and I realized my bio was being read," Allen said. “My husband then entered our home office with our kids and presented me the award. Previous winners are my mentors, so it was humbling to be this year's recipient."

This article originally appeared in Inside Duke Health. Read it in that location here (DukeHealth access required).
Social workers in the Duke University Medical Center's Department of Case Management can be nominated for the award. The Brandy McDaniel Award for Outstanding Social Worker of the Year is named in honor of a former social worker who served for 23 years at Duke and who first received the award. McDaniel created an annual camp for chronically ill children. Allen has dedicated her career to working with chronically ill adults in Duke's Movement Disorders Clinic.

“We're in awe of her," Melissa Gordon-Pitts, LCSW, assistant director of clinical social work, said of Allen.
Colleagues got creative when honoring Allen. Some joined the Zoom call, some cheered from her street and others participated in a car parade that went by the clinic. Inside the clinic, Allen cares for patients with conditions like Parkinson's disease. Always looking to connect with her patients and their care partners, she's launched programs like Parkinson's 101, providing education and support to those newly diagnosed. She also conducts research. Allen is eagerly awaiting the data on a study that could show Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction is a solid alternative to medication when it comes to reducing anxiety for Parkinson's patients.

“In the modern academic institution, it is rare to find an individual who exemplifies excellence in all three domains of clinical care, research and teaching," said Neurologist Sneha Mantri, MD. “This social worker is one of those people. She is a triple threat."  ​​