What are the Daily Duties of a Medical Social Worker?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment opportunities for medical social workers will exceed the national average before the year 2022. The job growth for this field is projected at 27 percent, due to the increased need for healthcare across all demographics.

The need for medical social workers is ever-increasing. As the population ages, more and more individuals find themselves in need of prolonged medical care and treatment. The MSW is one of the best avenues of information available to those patients.

Required Skills

Assertiveness is a must. A medical social worker (MSW) has to do their best in order to ensure patient compliance based on the medical advice. At times, they are called upon to make the tough decisions, which requires a high level of authoritativeness. An MSW also needs to have powerful intercommunication skills. They impart vital information to patients and families, making it imperative they can explain detailed instructions in a way that is simple and easy to follow.

It is the medical social worker who works with patients in order to develop a wide range of services. In addition to working with the patient, they often must work with the families of the patients, as well as within the medical community. The MSW has numerous tasks to perform on a daily basis, making it mandatory they have the ability to both work under pressure and to have outstanding time management skills.

Work Environment

Medical social workers find themselves in a wide variety of situations. Some of them work within specialized medical facilities (such as nursing homes and substance abuse rehabilitation facilities), while other work in administrative and clerical surroundings. In cases of sexual or physical abuse, the MSW works to ensure the patient is offered whatever counseling services and even physical relocations are necessary to make sure the patient is given the best opportunity for recovery.

Typical Day

Medical social workers often have no “ordinary” days. They find themselves dealing with any number of different situations, each one requiring them to bring a specific skill set to the solution. One of the reasons medical social workers chose their specific field is because they enjoy working in constantly changing scenarios. While there is the occasional “easy” day, many professionals stress that each day often brings a new challenge needing to be faced.

Empathy, Compassion, and Maintaining Distance

Medical social workers find themselves in challenging situations on a daily basis. Patients and families need to feel safe and confident in the MSW working with them. While the social worker needs to be able to show and feel compassion, it is also vital a certain distance is maintained at all times, in order to maintain themselves in an emotionally stable mindset.

Crisis Intervention

In the occupational profile “Social Workers in Hospitals and Medical Centers,” developed by the National Association of Social Workers, one area where the MSW might be called upon is to either initiate or engage with crisis intervention. Since many patients and families find themselves under stress, it is imperative that the MSW be aware of the different avenues available whenever a crisis situation arises.

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The medical social worker field is challenging and fast-paced and one of the most rewarding available to the social worker. While it is true that each day brings a new challenge to the forefront, the medical social worker realizes each day also brings a new solution to those challenges.