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What Is a Medical Social Worker and How to Become One

Medical Social Worker

What Do Medical Social Workers Do?

Medical social workers help their clients work through the emotional and psychosocial elements of dealing with acute, chronic, or terminal illnesses. As a medical social worker, your responsibilities and duties include providing individual, group, and family counseling, discussing healthcare and treatment options with your clients, and determining paths to take to manage their issues. Medical social workers who assist people with terminal illnesses also help with end of life planning, such as life insurance, medical bills, and funeral arrangements in addition to offering coping mechanisms and therapy.

How to Become a Medical Social Worker

To become a medical social worker, you need to have several qualifications. Most medical social workers have a Master’s of Social Work (MSW) degree. You can specialize in several subjects within your master’s studies, such as clinical social work. After completing your master’s degree, you need to become licensed in your state. The licensure process usually entails working under the supervision of a more experienced social worker while you prepare for the exams.

Where Can Medical Social Workers Work?

Medical social workers can work in many different settings and environments. The top employers of social workers include individual practice or family services, state government departments, and hospitals. In addition to those places, many healthcare social workers work for community health agencies, nursing or elderly-care homes, and outpatient facilities. There is growing popularity in remote counseling. Although you spend much of your day in an office, you may be expected to travel to meet with your patients.

What Are the Advantages of a Career as a Medical Social Worker?

There are several significant advantages to a career in medical social work. At the moment, medical social workers are in particularly high demand. According to recent projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, all social worker jobs are set to grow by 16%, and healthcare social worker jobs are projected to increase by 20%. In addition to the demand, social work is a stable career option with room for advancement. It is also a highly rewarding job. You are helping people to cope with and overcome difficult life situations, and you provide a needed set of ears for listening to their problems and expertise that helps your patients handle the stress of a hospital stay.

Medical Social Worker Job Description Sample

With this Medical Social Worker job description sample, you can get a good idea of what employers are looking for when hiring for this position. Remember, every employer is different and each will have unique qualifications when they hire for a Medical Social Worker role.

Job Summary

Our organization is currently seeking a Medical Social Worker to join our care team. In this role, you will perform psychosocial assessments to determine the unique needs of each patient, working to address their psychological, emotional, spiritual, or social needs. We work with individuals suffering from a wide range of issues, so it is helpful to have experience working with a particular age group or a community suffering from specific issues, such as cancer or Alzheimer's and dementia. This can enable you to form a network of resources and provide patients with resources that better fit their needs.

Duties and Responsibilities

  • Perform psychosocial assessments to determine patient needs
  • Provide support to patients and their family members or caregivers
  • Assist with advance care planning, including advance directives as needed
  • Assist with financial and funeral planning as needed
  • Suggest various methods to cope with physical limitations
  • Recommend additional resources

Requirements and Qualifications

  • Master's degree in social work (MSW)
  • State licensure
  • Medical social work experience (preferred)
  • BLS certification (preferred)
  • Valid driver's license and reliable transportation
  • Strong communication, critical thinking, and organizational skills