1. Medical or healthcare social workers can take the role of case managers, patient navigators, and therapists.
2. Social workers in the medical and healthcare field can be found in hospitals, clinics, or outpatient health centers.
Hospital social workers review new admissions, handle patient discharges, lead patients to relevant resources, and sometimes deal with advanced directives or end of life planning. They often work with a wide variety of patients with very different needs.
In clinics and outpatient settings, healthcare social workers help to coordinate a wide range of necessary services. When dealing with complex illnesses, especially those of children, these social workers often work with and counsel the whole family.
3. Medical social workers often have to deal with crises, especially within emergency departments.
These interventions often require giving counseling or therapy, and social works may need to diagnose and/or treat psychological conditions.
4. Social workers in the medical field are often vital members of interdisciplinary teams of healthcare workers.
Through working with doctors, nurses, psychologists or psychiatrists, and other health professionals, medical social workers aim to ensure that each patient’s social and emotional needs are being addressed and considered.
5. Healthcare social workers are responsible for representing the “person-in-environment” perspective.
This means they must recognize all the factors in a patient’s life that can influence their health and their treatment, and advocate for all of the patient’s needs in reference to these factors.
6. Patient education and increasing health literacy are key responsibilities of healthcare social workers.
Social workers often educate patients in: understanding their illness; treatment options and consequences; the roles of each member of their health care team; levels of healthcare; community resources.
7. Medical social workers are often tasked with addressing the financial issues their patients face.
This includes helping to reduce the stress of the cost of medical care, help patients apply to relevant assistance programs, and arranging payment plans.
8. The field of healthcare social work is expected to grow by 34% between 2010 and 2020.
This impressive growth is notably contributed to by the aging population.