What is a Medical Social Worker?

In many cases, individuals require assistance with medical and caregiving decisions. Social workers in this area of the occupation fulfill a critical role in the healthcare profession, and bring essential skills to the smooth resolution and creative problem solving necessary in an everyday context. If you’re interested in specializing within the field of social work, or if you require assistance with healthcare choices and treatments, the article below provides information on this fascinating profession.

Their Role in Healthcare

Medical social workers work with both the public and medical professionals. Their main role is to provide psychosocial support to patients and families with chronic, degenerative, or terminal diseases and disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, AIDS, and cancer. But they also fulfill other crucial duties. In addition to helping individuals cope with long-term care needs, education, and healthcare options, they work with caregivers to coordinate long-term care, facilitate plans of action, and interact on a regular basis with patients and family.

While they may spend much of their time in an office setting or a practice location, there is also a mobile component to their job. In many cases, they travel to patients in order to provide additional support. Their frequent duties include:

• Collaboration with healthcare professionals to ascertain and evaluate patient needs or the salient physical conditions of the patient’s case.
• Act as an advocate for patients in the instance of a crisis.
• Use of group or individual therapy sessions in order to assist patients and families in recovery from illness or dependency, and assist them to adjust to new life conditions.
• Use of consultation information and personal social work experience to creatively coordinate patient care, with appropriate follow-up involvement to ensure quality of care options.
• Assist patients and families with discharge from care facilities to a home or another care environment.
• Refer patients or families to community resources designed to aid in recovery from physical or mental illness, and provide full access to financial or legal assistance, alternative housing, employment placement agencies, and educational options.
• Plan and implement support activities or group counseling sessions for family, friends, and patients to aid them in understanding, coping with, or providing emotional support during and after an illness.
• Identify and mitigate impediments to patient healing via interviews and careful study of patient records.
• Monitor, record, and conduct evaluations of patient progress in accordance with established, measurable goals set in a crafted treatment plan. If needed, modify treatment plans to accommodate changes in the patient’s needs or life situation.

As you can see, the duties of these social workers are rigorous, but deeply rewarding. As a profession, caregiving social work calls upon a broad array of organizational, therapeutic, and interpersonal negotiation skills. Those who elect to pursue this professional path will become experts in the internal workings of the healthcare system, from financial provision to community care options. They will also be called upon to assist in the social healing activities that are an integral part of a patient’s physical and mental progress.

The work is demanding, and the demand for individuals with appropriate skill sets is great. Within the sphere of healthcare, social workers fulfill the needs unmet by other professionals, who care for immediate patient needs. They facilitate and implement care plans that assist patients and families in their journey towards healing in every regard. Precisely because of the diverse array of skills and talents required in this field, many who pursue this occupation may transition from other professions, such as nursing, other types of social work, or other therapy specialties.