The Inside Scope of Social Workers in Health Care as Told by 7 Different Accounts

Medical Social workers take on various responsibilities depending on the shift they are assigned, the setting, and patient’s needs (DiNitto & McNeece p. 204). These account reflects the constant flow of different people who bring different concerns, calling for different actions on behalf the social worker.

Chapter 1: Social Work in the ER

 Ogden Rogers

  • “No Matter the costs of tragedy, there are little moments of quiet heroics as well. Sometimes hours of boredom are punctuated by minutes of terrific activity. One has to think fast on one’s feet. The ER is more like a beach, where the sea and the land meet, changing each other over and over. To do social work in the ER takes the heart and mind of a surfer, each new person off the street is another wave to meet well” (Grobman, p. 36).

Chapter 2: Social Work in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

Merle T. Edwards-Orr

  • “I had to two pagers to carry on this day. On my right side pocket my usual pager so the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit could track me down. On my left side, I carried the pager for the emergency room, as I do every other Monday. In the minutes between phone calls and talks with medical staff, I filled out some SSI applications. Name, condition, demographics about the doctors and hospital, a little bit about tests, & a couple of releases and that was about it (Grobman, p. 39).
  • “This was a routine conversation, helping people locate and sort out resources” (Grobman, p. 42).
  • This all happened between miscellaneous phone calls, SSI applications, pages from the pharmacy for permission to approve social work department payment for prescriptions, and the rest of the little stuff that no one remembers but takes up minutes and hours in the day. No meetings today. And charting, I needed to make sure each of these major contacts had a note in the chart, so other team members were aware of mu observations (Grobman,p. 44).


Chapter 3: Remembering Why I become a social worker: Lessons learned on internal Medicine

Jodi Goldstein

Jodi Goldstein received a referral to assess a severely cognitively impaired and frail senior whose primary caregiver is her son Paul. He wanted to place her in a specific nursing home.

  • “Today I assisted in reducing these feelings of despair experienced by Paul. Paul helped to remind me to look deeply into the lives of our patients and, rather than personalize negative events, to remember to allow time for the healing process. Paul needed that time to come to terms with the fact that his mother needed to be placed in a nursing home now, not in 5 years (Grobman,p. 45)
  • Despite beginning with feelings of dread, I realize once again why I am in this field. As much as I can be helpful to my patients, I am constantly learning about myself and others. (Grobman,p. 48)

Chapter 4: Social Work in the Infertility Clinic

Gretchen Gross

  • My position as a counselor in a university-affiliated outpatient medical clinic provides me with much more autonomy and control over my professional life, my case load, and diversity of population and services offered (Grobman, p. 49)
  • Each day I see a variety of couples and individuals who are referred to me by physicians, midwives, and other practitioners who provide reproductive services to our patients. I provide services in the same manner that I do at my private practice. I schedule my own clients, attend weekly in-vitro fertilization (IVF) team meetings, present at resident didactics, and present at department grand rounds. I counsel with physicians on troublesome cases, and treat or refer clients as needed (Grobman,p.49)
  • I must always challenge my own ethical standards & learn more to keep up with developments and changes in many areas (Grobman,p. 53)
  • One drawback of this field is that I miss working with other clinical social workers (most clinics have one staff counselor) (Grobman,p. 53).

Chapter 5: Working with pregnant women in public health (55)

Aldreda Paschall Gee

  • I work with pregnant women. I am paid by the county from funds I generate by billing Medicaid for the contacts I make with patients in the maternity clinics. I follow each patient from time to time, I meet her until roughly two months after her pregnancy ends, regardless of the pregnancy outcome. I work in two settings: the local hospital’s Ob/GYN clinic, and a newly-formed private OB/GYN office (Grobman, p. 55)


  • The job has specific requirements set out by state guidelines, but affords a good deal of autonomy and professional judgment. There are four social workers involved in the maternity team, and we work with nurses and are supervised by a nurse (Grobman, p. 55)

Chapter 6: Managing in Managed Care

David C. Prichard

  • “My specialty is in crisis intervention and trauma, and therefore I select cases in which clients have clear precipitating events that have led to the presenting symptoms. My treatment is crisis-oriented and focused on reducing the immediate symptoms of the trauma (Grobman, p. 62-63). 
  • I spend most of my afternoons on the phone with providers, discussing cases. Although many 0rivers appear to view me as someone whose job is to restrict treatment, I see my role as one of collaborator, providing free, collegial, peer supervision (Grobman, p. 62-63). 
  • I am relieved when 5’ o’clock arrives. I feel as though I’ve been on the phone and computer all day, yet there remain many charts and unanswered phone messages scattered on my desk. These will have to wait until tomorrow. (Grobman, p. 62-63)

Chapter 7: Social Work in the Commissioned Corps

Gary Lounsbery  

  • My current assignment is as a mental health consultant in an Indian health service unit in Northeastern Oklahoma. I have been here for two years, and this is my second assignment since receiving my commission six years ago. Officers change assignments every four years. I enjoy the opportunity to experience different parts of the world with different cultures (Grobman, p.65).
  • Within a broadly defined position description, I have a great deal of latitude in how I structure and carry out my duties. I can initiate new services in my current position or seek to transfer within the whole range of the commissioned corps. This range includes all the programs in the department of health and human services, including the national institutes of health and the Centers for Disease Control (Grobman, p. 69-70).  


DiNitto, D., & McNeece, C. (2008). Social work: Issues and opportunities in a
challenging profession (3rd ed.). Chicago, IL: Lyceum Books.

Grobman, L. (2012). Days in the Lives of Social Workers (4th ed.). Harrisburg: White Hat Communications.




Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s