How to Become a Medical Social Worker

What is a Medical Social Worker?

A medical social worker is an important member of health care and medical aid providers. Medical social work is actually a sub category of social work. Medical social workers are trained professionals that provide patients, families and sometimes even communities with psychosocial healthcare.

Medical social workers are trained at providing specific and important social services to patients that are suffering from chronic, terminal or acute illnesses. They are able to help patients manage their recovery and recuperation through times of illness, trauma or unrest – all of which can take a physical, psychological and emotional toll on the human body. If you feel that you can be a source of comfort and support to patients and can provide the medical resources needed to ease and improve their suffering, then this is the right line of work for you.

What are the Education Requirements to Become a Medical Social Worker?

To gain basic entrance into this field, you will require a bachelor’s degree in social work which will allow you to work at low level positions. A Master’s degree in social work followed by an internship that ranged from 400 to 1400 hours is advised if you wish to enter this field. With this degree you may possess the knowledge and training that will help you to treat and counsel patients and gain considerable experience while on the job. Courses such as psychology, sociology, human behavior, research, communication skills and so on will help you in this field.

The next step is licensing and certification which may increase your marketability. Employers may actually prefer candidates who are certified as it guarantees a minimum standard of academic excellence. To lean more visit the Association of Social Work Boards and National Association of Social Workers  for information on exam schedules, course content and study material. Licensing needs vary from state to state.

What Does a Medical Social Worker Do?

The job duties of a medical social worker depend largely on the scope of the practice, extent of the patient’s condition, healthcare standards and the work environment. Medical social workers can work in a variety of settings such as hospitals, clinics, hospices, or public or private healthcare institutes. Listed below you will find some job duties that are common to most medical social workers.

  1. Collaborate and consult with other physicians and medical professionals to evaluate the condition and medical needs of the patient
  2. Conduct a deep rooted background on the patient to learn and uncover various facts that may be necessary to their treatment
  3. Provide personalized counsel and support to patients who need it on a one to one basis. You may need to organize support groups as well depending on the number of cases
  4. Give guidance and counsel to the patient’s family members so that they can assist with the treatment and monitor progress while at home
  5. Suggest treatments for patients that will help them cope with whatever transition they are in the process of making
  6. Oversee and carefully implement the discharge process for patients to ensure that the patient has everything required for aiding in recovery and preventing in relapse
  7. Plan for and arrange post hospital medical services that patients may require at home
  8. Assist patients who are limited of mobility and motor function. Arrange meals and transport for such patients
  9. Provide ease and comfort to patients who are terminally ill and are nearing the end of their journey
  10. Give assistance to the elderly to make their life comfortable

What is the Job Outlook for Medical Social Workers?

The career outlook for medical social workers seems promising. As the younger generation comes of age and the old get older, plans for their long term support and medical care must be devised. According to the statistical database at The Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov), it was estimated in 2008 that the employment levels of medical and public health social jobs would increase by 22% during the years 2008 and 2018.

With the average age of the population on the rise, the need for the crucial services offered by medical social workers is also on the rise as they are able to provide critical care to senior citizens effectively due to their training.

What is the Salary of a Medical Social Worker?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov), the average yearly salary for medical social workers is $51,460 which translates to about $24.74 on an hourly basis. As of May 2012, the top 10% of medical social workers earn as much as $74,030 on a yearly basis while the lower 10% earn $31,410. Another source states that the average annual salary for medical social workers is $55,000 (indeed.com).

As you gradually gain more experience by working with a number of patients and on different projects, your potential to earn more may increase. Private or global opportunities may yield greater earnings depending on the scale of operations.

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