What does a medical social worker do?
Medical social workers provide social and emotional support to individuals and families to enable them to better handle a variety of medical conditions such as acute and chronic illnesses and cancer. They locate and provide information on a variety of services to improve well being and quality of life. They also provide advice to patients and caregivers on the necessary care after leaving medical facilities. They often set up services for the home such as medical care and meal services. Medical social workers often work for hospitals, long-term care facilities, and government agencies.
What kind of training does a medical social worker need?
Medical social workers typically need at least a bachelor degree in social work, but many employers prefer applicants with a master degree. Most medical social workers complete internships while pursuing their education to gain practical experience in the field. Many also complete volunteer experiences before applying to graduate school. All states require medical social workers to be licensed. Licensing requirements typically include minimum education and experience and passing a written examination. Some medical social workers gain professional certification from the National Association of Social Workers or other related agency, to remain competitive in the field. Medical social workers usually complete regular continuing education to maintain their licenses and certifications, keep their skills current, and stay abreast with advancements in the field.
What are the prospects for a career as a medical social worker?
Employment of medical social workers is expected to grow much faster than average for all professions, increasing 22% from 2008 to 2018 (1). The growing and aging population and increased demand for health and social services will drive job growth.
Job prospects should be good especially for medical social workers with extensive experience and those with a specialty in gerontology. Many job openings will stem from the need to replace medical social workers that retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.
How much do medical social workers make?
As of April 2010, the middle 50% of medical social workers earn annual salaries between $50,413 and $58,676. The top 10% earn annual salaries of more than $62,378 (2).
A career as a medical social worker is an excellent choice for individuals with a strong interest in providing social services in a variety of medical settings. Medical social workers must have a solid understanding of the policies and procedures related to medical social services. Patience, detail orientation, compassion, and good problem solving skills are necessary traits. Medical social workers must have good communication and interpersonal skills and the ability to work as part of a team. They must be quick on their feet and remain calm during emotional and stressful situations.