What does a Healthcare Social Worker do?

Median Pay $56,810
Growth Rate 2%
Citation Retrieved from BLS.gov

A healthcare social worker refers clients to social services as necessary. They may advise care givers and provide patient education. Many work in medical settings like hospitals, mental health clinics, private practice, schools, child welfare, and human service agencies. They help people through many phases of life in handling difficult issues like depression or the transition plan when a client may leave one level of care to another.

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How to Become a Healthcare Social Worker

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A bachelor’s degree is required in psychology and social work. In the case of a clinical social worker, a master’s degree is needed. The undergraduate and graduate programs will probably want you to complete a practicum or internship prior to earning your degree in a supervised clinical setting. A license is required in the state of practice for a clinical social worker. Some on-the-job training may be available but most employer’s want extensive experience from the applicant.

Job Description of Healthcare Social Worker

A healthcare social worker provides support and services to groups, individuals, or families that are challenged to cope with terminal, acute, or chronic illness. They promote health and help clients access better healthcare. They resolve serious problems or crises in being an advocate for a clients care and wellbeing.

Often, patients or families need their healthcare social worker to get them started on community programs to aid in recovering from physical or mental illness and to be sure they understand other available services such as housing options, legal aid, financial assistance, education, and job opportunities.

A healthcare social worker may organize support groups or educator patients on available support groups. They may also coordinate rehabilitation and care and see the service is followed through. If a patient’s status changes, the healthcare social worker would modify their plan accordingly. They observe environmental issues that may impede a patient’s healing and keep records of progress while continuing to evaluate and monitor the case.

Healthcare Social Worker Career Video Transcript

When battling serious illness, patients need more than prescriptions, they need help handling stress and the complications of managing treatments. Healthcare social workers are a lifeline keeping patients and their families afloat, making it possible to cope with getting treatment. Patients leaving the hospital may need home care, meal delivery, and special equipment. Healthcare social workers help arrange those services, and connect patients to financial assistance as well.

They may also arrange for legal aid, housing, and help with job or education services. As important as looking after physical needs, these social workers provide psychological and emotional support. They counsel patients as they recover from illness and adjust to changes in their lives. When child abuse or neglect is suspected, these social workers investigate and take protective action when needed.

Critical thinking, patience, and emotional strength are all important qualities for this career. Healthcare social workers work collaboratively with other care professionals, in hospitals, nursing care, and mental health settings, as well as in doctors’ offices and public health clinics. A social work master’s degree and state licensure are required for most jobs in this field. Healthcare social workers make it possible to trust, that at a time when people may feel their most vulnerable, they have an advocate to give them hope and direction.

Article Citations

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Social Workers and Healthcare Social Workers.

National Center for O*NET Development. 21-1022.00. O*NET OnLine.

The career video is in the public domain from the U. S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.