Webinar event date: 
Mar 3, 2022 1:00 pm EST
Webinar Presenters: 

Sophia Fantus, PhD

Dr. Fantus is an assistant professor in the School of Social Work at the University of Texas at Arlington. Dr. Fantus received her MSW from New York University’s Silver School of Social Work and her PhD in Social Work and Bioethics from the University of Toronto in conjunction with the Joint Centre for Bioethics. After her doctoral work, she completed a clinical ethics fellowship at Baylor College of Medicine in consortium with Weill Cornell Medicine. She is a certified healthcare ethics consultant and studies experiences of moral distress among indirect healthcare providers, including social workers and chaplains. Her most recent project was a three-stage pilot study examining encounters of moral distress before and during the pandemic. Her objective is to develop evidence-informed strategies to ameliorate moral distress and to enhance social workers’ well-being and mental health.


The COVID-19 pandemic has escalated health care social workers’ professional responsibilities and obligations, complicated goals of care, and restricted hospice and palliative care decision-making at end-of-life. Consequently, social workers’ roles are shifting as they encounter complex medical and ethical scenarios that have heightened experiences of moral distress. Encounters of moral distress arise when institutional or individual factors constrain an individual from executing a plan they identify as ethically justifiable; they are tasked with having to act in a way that conflicts with their personal and/or professional values and ethics. The implications of moral distress are far-reaching and have long-term effects on providers’ mental health and well-being. Yet, the impacts of COVID-19 have centered largely on nurses and physicians, hands-on direct care medical providers. This two-part presentation will start with a focus on the triggers and consequences of moral distress for health care social workers and conclude with strategies to reduce moral distress, identify self-care practices, and foster moral resilience, professional efficacy, and wellness. 

Part 1: 
- To introduce participants to the concept of moral distress and the unique triggers for health care social workers 
- To examine the physical, psychological, emotional, and occupational stressors attributable to moral distress and how they differentiate from encounters of burnout and compassion fatigue.  
- To consider the positive effects of moral distress and how this may result in moral resilience, professional efficacy, and social work empowerment.