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.


  • 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.


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.

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 2016

Metro Area Total Employment Annual Mean Salary
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim 5,850 $69,090
Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale 3,470 $46,480
Detroit-Warren-Dearborn 2,710 $56,730
Baltimore-Columbia-Towson 2,580 $58,340
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land 2,560 $63,830
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington 2,500 $60,780
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell 2,330 $52,970
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward 2,250 $75,320
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach 2,190 $55,180
Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson 1,800 $49,290

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Total employment and salary for professions similar to health social workers

Career Stories (Job Profiles) for Medical and Public Health Social Workers

To find out more about building a career as Health Social Workers, we spoke with professionals in the field across a variety of specialties. Learn about their experiences on the job, the steps they took to complete their education, and what it takes to excel in this industry. Click the link to see a story.

All Types

Source : 2016 Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, BLS.gov

Most Popular Industries for
Medical and Public Health Social Workers

These industries represent at least 1% of the total number of people employed in this occupation.

Industry Total Employment Percent Annual Median Salary
Hospital 46,320 35% $51,800
Medical Office 25,070 19% $46,610
Nursing And Residential Care 18,820 14% $40,430
Social Service 18,190 13% $37,960
Government 15,100 11% $43,630
Non-profit 3,250 2% $39,640
Office Services And Staffing 1,400 1% $43,550
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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.

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