Interprofessional Collaboration in Social Work

EKU Online > Interprofessional Collaboration in Social Work

Interprofessional collaboration is an important aspect of hospital social work. Collaboration within different departments inside the hospital and with outside organizations is essential to providing clients with the help they need. I am completing my practicum at a local hospital, where I am also an employee. We work to provide care management and discharge planning for a variety of clients. Some of my responsibilities include assessing client’s situation using the biopsychosocial model and assisting them in meeting their needs when they are ready to discharge from the hospital. To provide this service, we are working in unison with clients, their families, physician, nurses, other medical professionals, and outside organizations such as medical equipment providers and nursing home management.

About Our Clients

The clients we serve can be of any age, gender, race, culture, or other demographic identity. Although I primarily work as a discharge planner, I also provide social support in cases of homelessness, substance use, and child and adult protective services (CPS/APS) reporting. We always strive to utilize interdependence to provide the best possible care for clients. Interdependence is the time professionals spend together, in person and conversing, to share information and perspectives (Iachini et al., 2018). Each member of the team may have a separate role, but they work together to achieve a common goal (Iachini et al., 2018).

Case Examples

For example, over the past few weeks, I have had CPS/APS social workers reaching out to me to follow up on reports that I have made. During this process, I was asked to provide medical records for these clients as evidence in the cases. As part of my yearly training, I am to review different statutes and regulations of the Health Insurance Portability and Privacy Act (HIPPA) that protects a client’s rights to their information. However, I also know that I am required to cooperate with investigations completed by the Department of Community Based Services. Because I was unsure exactly how to proceed, I reached out to my practicum supervisor, who is also one of my work supervisors to discuss this incident.

Supervisor Guidance

I discussed the situation with my supervisor to understand how to proceed. Both the APS and CPS workers provided a release of consent form for the information they were requesting. My supervisor explained I cannot provide full records of any client to the workers. However, if a client is currently in the hospital, I can provide specific documentation about what I have reported.

For example, if I report that an infant had a positive drug screen at delivery, I can provide that specific documentation as proof for their record. However, she also informed me that if a client is no longer admitted to the hospital, the protective services social worker must go through our medical records department to obtain any records they need. (R. Perkins, personal communication, October 19, 2022). That was the case with the APS worker. She was investigating a case of a client who was no longer admitted to the hospital. I assisted her in retrieving the needed records by faxing the consent she had sent me to the medical records department. This informed the department that an APS worker was going to call and ask for the records requested on the consent, and provided the worker with the correct phone number to call for the medical records department.

Common Goals

In the above cases, the common goal was to address possible situations of neglect and abuse. Finding a way to provide a safe environment for both the child and adult in each case. As a social worker, I had to be aware of my application of the NASW Code of Ethics, HIPPA policies, my hospital policies, and the regulations required by adult and child protective services. During this experience I was able to gain an understanding of my responsibilities and develop my communication skills with outside organizations. I was also able to establish professional relationships with the community workers. In following client cases, I can use these skills and connections to better serve my client population.

By: Brianna Highfield, MSW Student

Are you interested in making a difference in the lives of others?

Earn your online master’s degree from a regionally accredited university and online education leader for over 15 years. Complete the form to learn more about how you can earn your bachelor’s, master’s or graduate certificates in social work. Give yourself a competitive edge in the job market and the opportunity to serve vulnerable populations in your community. Contact us and start your journey today.


Iachini, A. L., Bronstein, L. R., & Mellin, E. (2018). A guide for interprofessional collaboration. CSWE Press.

Learn More