When battling serious illness, patients need more than prescriptions; they need help handling stress and the complications of managing treatments. Healthcare social workers are a lifeline keeping patients and their families afloat, making it possible to cope with getting treatment. Patients leaving the hospital may need home care, meal delivery, and special equipment. Healthcare social workers help arrange those services, and connect patients to financial assistance as well. They may also arrange for legal aid, housing, and help with job or education services. As important as looking after physical needs, these social workers provide psychological and emotional support. They counsel patients as they recover from illness and adjust to changes in their lives. When child abuse or neglect is suspected, these social workers investigate and take protective action when needed. Critical thinking, patience, and emotional strength are all important qualities for this career. Healthcare social workers work collaboratively with other care professionals, in hospitals, nursing care, and mental health settings, as well as in doctors’ offices and public health clinics. A social work master’s degree and state licensure are required for most jobs in this field. Healthcare social workers make it possible to trust – that at a time when people may feel their most vulnerable— they have an advocate to give them hope and direction.
What they do:
Provide individuals, families, and groups with the psychosocial support needed to cope with chronic, acute, or terminal illnesses. Services include advising family care givers, providing patient education and counseling, and making referrals for other services. May also provide care and case management or interventions designed to promote health, prevent disease, and address barriers to access to healthcare.
On the job, you would:
Collaborate with other professionals to evaluate patients' medical or physical condition and to assess client needs.
Advocate for clients or patients to resolve crises.
Refer patient, client, or family to community resources to assist in recovery from mental or physical illness and to provide access to services such as financial assistance, legal aid, housing, job placement or education.
therapy and counseling
medicine and dentistry
Math and Science
sociology and anthropology
Arts and Humanities
philisophy and religion
listening to others, not interrupting, and asking good questions
talking to others
noticing a problem and figuring out the best way to solve it
understanding people's reactions
changing what is done based on other people's actions
communicate by speaking
listen and understand what people say
Ideas and Logic
make general rules or come up with answers from lots of detailed information
notice when problems happen
do two or more things at the same time
pay attention to something without being distracted
People interested in this work like activities that include helping people, teaching, and talking.
They do well at jobs that need:
Concern for Others
You might use software like this on the job:
Automated clinical information systems
James Frazier Associates DataStart
Data base user interface and query software
Command Systems ComServe
Desktop publishing software
Adobe Systems Adobe PageMaker
master's degree usually needed
Get started on your career:
New job opportunities are very likely in the future.