Medical Social Worker Career Information, Jobs, Degrees & Training Programs

Medical social workers administer mental health services to people in assisted living facilities, hospitals, and medical clinics. They also show hospitalized individuals and their families where assistance can be obtained after being released from the hospital. When providing patient care, medical social workers often consult with doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals.

Medical social workers assist people dying from AIDS, cancer, and other terminal diseases, and they help patients suffering from Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis, and metabolic disorders. Some medical social workers determine whether hospitalized individuals are healthy enough to be released from medical facilities. When patients require assistance at home, these specialists arrange for nurses and medical aides to provide in-home care.

Medical social workers typically collaborate with nurses, doctors, and other medical specialists when providing patient care. They typically work 40 hour weeks, but since sick people often require assistance during all hours of the day, they can be assigned to work nights and weekends.

Social work is a great career for caring people with excellent problem solving skills. Medical social workers must be impartial, non-judgmental, and empathetic.

Job Responsibilities and Career Opportunities

  • Discharge Planning
  • Crisis Intervention
  • Mental Health Evaluation
  • Chemical Dependency Evaluation
  • Short term decision making counseling
  • Organizing support groups (ex. Cancer Support Group, Rehab Family Group)
  • Ethical decision-making counseling
  • Grief Counseling
  • Specialty evaluations and coordination such as on a Renal Transplant Team
  • Child Abuse investigations and reporting
Useful skills and training:

Medical social workers should possess these skills:
  • Knowledge of medical terminology
  • Understanding the roles of healthcare specialists
  • Understanding the link between emotional and physical health
  • Understanding of discharge and care planning
  • Crisis intervention skills
Required Education and Training

Most medical social workers hold graduate degrees in social work. Professors and researchers typically hold PhDs.

Most states only permit licensed social workers to practice professionally. Certifications can be obtained from organizations such as the National Association of Social Workers and the Academy of Certified Social Workers. Professional organizations usually only certify social workers holding master's degrees and possessing work experience.

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