According to the American Hospital Association, 75% of their hospitals have social workers. Medicine and social work first joined at Massachusetts General Hospital in 1905. “In 1915, medical social work was defined as a specific form of social case work focused on the relationship between disease and social maladjustment.” (class notes)
Social workers make a doctor’s room a little less scary by adding the human touch to a room full of metal instruments and machinery. Social workers are helpful to in the medical field because they understand how to deal with patients and the emotional aftermath that usually follow after major surgery or cancer treatment. They are capable of walking patients through the steps needed to reach full recovery- physically and mentally. They understand that physical side effects of treatment can be far reaching, like how hair is more than just hair when it comes to a person undergoing chemo therapy. In a room full of unknown doctors and nurses who hop from room to room, social workers can provide comfort. Unlike friends and family, social workers are trained on how to provide relief and are educated on technique that help alleviate anxiety and other emotional stressors.
Social workers also provide support services to dying clients, the only healthcare professionals focused on the psychosocial aspects of death and dying. (Sheldon, 1993; Loscalzo & Zabora, 1996)
References: Class Notes
Marlene Belew Huff LCSW, PhD , Sherri Weisenfluh LCSW , Mindy Murphy MSW & Pamela J. Black MSW (2006) End-of-Life Care and Social Work Education, Journal of Gerontological Social Work, 48:1-2, 219-231, DOI: 10.1300/J083v48n01_15