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Health Social Workers

Health social workers, also known as medical and public health social workers, offer psychosocial support to families, individuals and vulnerable populations in order to help them deal with acute, chronic or terminal illnesses such as cancer and Alzheimer's disease. They also provide counseling to patients and give advice to family caregivers.

Some sample job titles are medical social worker, social worker, psychiatric social worker, social work case manager, clinical social worker, nephrology social worker, renal social worker and oncology social worker.

Health social workers assist in making plans to meet the needs of patient's after they leave the hospital. They often make arrangements for at-home services. Some medical and public health social workers are part of an interdisciplinary team that evaluates particular types of patients such as organ transplant patients.

Public health social workers sometimes help individuals and populations suffering from injuries and ailments associated with community disasters or sickness. They identify the connection between social factors and health.

Those with the job title of social worker help people deal with various issues in their everyday lives, resolve personal and family problems and deal with their relationships. Some social workers help families that are dealing with serious domestic conflicts which sometimes involve spousal or child abuse.

Some social workers assist people that have a disability or a serious disease or a social problem such as substance abuse or inadequate housing. Many social workers specialize in assisting a specific population or work in a particular setting.

Responsibilities

  • Identify environmental obstacles to patient or client progress via interviews and reviewing their records
  • Advocate for patients or clients in order to resolve crises
  • Conduct research
  • Participate in systems design and in planning and policy development
  • Work with other professionals to evaluate a patient's physical or medical condition and to determine a client's needs
  • Advocate for better services
  • Provide referrals to clients, patients or families to useful community resources
  • Plan the discharge from a care facility to the patient's home or other care facility
  • Plan and coordinate patient or client care and rehabilitation
  • Observe, evaluate and record a clients progress according to measurable objectives

Job Characteristics

Medical and public health social workers usually work 40 hours a week. They sometimes need to work in the evenings and on the weekends. Medical and public health social workers often leave their office to go to clients' homes, hospitals, meetings and nursing care facilities. They often meet with service providers. In some agencies, social workers are given large caseloads.

Social workers should be sensitive and dependable. They should enjoy helping people. They should have good communication and interpersonal skills and be good at organizing activities.

Employment Outlook

Between 2006 and 2016 the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 24 percent growth for employment for medical and public health social workers, which is much faster than average for all occupations. Due to patients being released from hospitals earlier than in the past, there is a growing demand for social workers in home healthcare services.

The growing senior population is another major factor for growth in the occupation. The demand for social workers with gerontology backgrounds should increase.

In 2008 the median annual earnings for medical and public health social workers was $45,650.

Education, Certification, and Licensing

The most common minimum requirement for the occupation is a bachelor's degree in social work. However, majors in sociology, psychology or a related subject may qualify a candidate for some entry-level positions, particularly in small community agencies. An advanced degree has become the standard for many social worker jobs.

Jobs in health settings and in clinical work usually require a master's degree. Typically, and advanced degree is necessary for administrative, staff training and supervisory positions.

Coursework for public health social workers usually includes social policy, social work methods, social research methods, human behavior in the social environment, epidemiology, racial and cultural diversity and bio statistics.

Every state has certification, licensing or registration requirements for social work practice and for using professional titles. Standards for licensing vary by state.

Credentials are provided by the National Association of Social Workers. Credentials are especially important for social workers in private practice due to some health insurance providers requiring social workers to have a credential in order to receive reimbursement for services.

Resources

Major Employers

The top employers are nursing and personal care facilities, county health departments, local governments, hospitals, and individual and family services agencies.

Schools for Medical And Public Health Social Workers are listed in the Browse Schools Section.

Medical and Public Health Social Workers Skills

Below are the skills needed to be medical and public health social workers according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

   
Skill NameImportanceCompetence
Active Listening4.254.75
Speaking4.124.25
Social Perceptiveness4.125.25
Critical Thinking44.12
Coordination3.884.12

Medical and Public Health Social Workers Abilities

Below are the abilities needed to be medical and public health social workers according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

   
Ability NameImportanceCompetence
Oral Comprehension4.124.5
Oral Expression4.124.38
Deductive Reasoning44.25
Written Comprehension44.25
Inductive Reasoning44

Medical and Public Health Social Workers Knowledge

Below are the knowledge areas needed to be medical and public health social workers according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

   
Knowledge AreaImportanceCompetence
Therapy and Counseling56.84
Psychology4.966.48
English Language4.485.2
Customer and Personal Service4.446.12
Sociology and Anthropology44.76

Medical and Public Health Social Workers Work activities

Below are the work activities involved in being medical and public health social workers according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest).

   
Work ActivityImportanceCompetence
Getting Information4.754.36
Assisting and Caring for Others4.685.72
Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships4.545.79
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates4.545.33
Making Decisions and Solving Problems4.524.68

Medical and Public Health Social Workers Work styles

Below are the work styles involved in being medical and public health social workers according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest).

   
Work StyleImportance
Concern for Others4.96
Integrity4.92
Dependability4.88
Cooperation4.8
Stress Tolerance4.8

Metro Areas Sorted by Total Employment for
Medical and Public Health Social Workers

Listed below are the 10 largest metro areas based on the total number of people employed in Medical and Public Health Social Workers jobs , as of 2017

   
Metro AreaTotal EmploymentAnnual Mean Salary
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim7,520 $73,210
Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale3,050 $47,190
Baltimore-Columbia-Towson2,760 $58,130
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward2,580 $75,920
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land2,520 $65,010
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington2,420 $58,510
Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson2,320 $51,370
Detroit-Warren-Dearborn2,200 $59,950
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell2,160 $55,030
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue2,020 $65,340

Compare Total Employment & Salaries for Health Social Workers

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Employment
Salary

Total employment and salary for professions similar to health social workers

Source : 2017 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2016-26 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov; O*NET® 22.1 Database, O*NET OnLine, National Center for O*NET Development, Employment & Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, onetonline.org

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We have some additional detailed pages at the state level for Medical and Public Health Social Workers.

Numbers in parentheses are counts of relevant campus-based schools in the state; online schools may also be available.