Social Work Careers to Consider: Medical Social Work

If you enjoy helping people and believe serving others is your calling, a career in social work may be the right vocation for you. Medical social workers assist their clients with essential everyday tasks to help them navigate life with illness. They assist with such challenges as sorting through treatment options, maneuvering the health care system and engaging with the patient’s medical team to put together the best care plan possible.

Where Do Medical Social Workers Work?

Medical social workers are found basically anywhere there is medical care. Most commonly, this type of caregiver works where many patients are treated, such as a hospital or a large health center.

Medical social workers also serve patients at community health clinics, schools, nursing homes and outpatient centers.

What Do Medical Social Workers Do?

The role of a medical social worker is to guide clients and help them understand the modern healthcare landscape. They are client advocates who ensure that patients receive the treatment they need for optimal physical and mental recovery.

Medical social workers, in particular:

  • Discuss treatment options with patients and families. They go over the potential side effects of choosing specific treatments.
  • Work with doctors, nurses, physical, occupational or speech therapists to coordinate the best possible care plan.
  • Manage mental health aspects of disease and coping skills needed for patients and families
  • Provide individual and group counseling
  • Work with insurance companies and administrative staff to arrange payments and help ailing patients complete necessary forms.

Who Do They Work With?

The primary focus of medical social work is the care of client’s suffering from chronic, terminal or other life-changing illnesses. To meet individual needs, treatment is a collaborative effort with physicians, nurses and other healthcare personnel to stay on top of important patient information. Doctors focus on the diagnosis and treatment of physical ailments, while social workers focus on uncovering the root cause of disease and the effects on mental health. As a result, medical social workers are an important part of a patient’s health care plan.

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