Social Work Careers in Healthcare

By: Caroline Reid

Upon earning a bachelor’s of social work (BSW) degree you may choose to specialize in a particular field of social work. One specialized area of practice is medical social work. Social work has an extensive history in working with those suffering from accidents, illness or general poor health.

The history of medical social work dates back to the late 19th century when advocacy for the sick and impoverished became a central theme of the profession. Social work values promoting self-determination and equality have been continuously defended within the profession and are just as relevant now as they were over a century ago. Today, social workers continue to assist people in navigating the health care system in order receive the care and services they need and deserve.

Medical social workers may be employed by:

  • acute care practices
  • children or veteran hospitals
  • outpatient clinics
  • community health agencies
  • sexual assault treatment centers
  • long-term care facilities
  • home health agencies
  • hospices
  • private social work practices

Most recently, managed care companies (MCO) have begun to hire medical social workers to work from home and provide psychosocial assessments and support to their clients via telehealth services. Telehealth care can include education concerning recent diagnoses, advice about impending healthcare decisions, and individual counseling for those negatively impacted by acute or chronic illnesses.

Social work values have continually supported the central tenet that access to health care is a basic human right. Given the current political and economic debate surrounding healthcare in the United States, it is imperative social workers employed in the medical field have the knowledge and skills they need to be strong advocates for their clients and families.

Consequently, EKU’s online social work degree curriculum includes foundational knowledge concerning Medicare, Medicaid and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Students also learn how to improve their communication skills to assist their clients and their families in times of crisis. Equally important, students will learn how to become effective policy advocates in order continue the long-held social work tradition of promoting and defending equal access to quality healthcare for everyone. 

Published on September 06, 2017