What do Healthcare Social Workers Do?
Healthcare social workers provide support to individuals, families and groups who are dealing with chronic, acute or terminal illnesses. Part of a healthcare social worker’s job is to advise family members who serve as caregivers, to educate and counsel patients and their families, and refer patients and family members to services as necessary. They also make healthcare more accessible by taking down barriers.Common employers for people in this field include hospitals, home health care services, individual and family services, outpatient services and nursing care facilities. In the United States, this field will grow by a whopping 27 percent for an expected total of 185,500 jobs in 2022.
Healthcare Social Workers Skills and Abilities
In this field, you practice the principles and procedures for therapy and counseling. You must have a keen knowledge of English, psychology, sociology and anthropology. Your skills include active listening, social perceptiveness, critical thinking and responding appropriately to other people’s actions. Communication skills include oral comprehension and expression as well as written comprehension. These skills and abilities enable you to:
- Collect information
- Assist and care for others
- Communicate with co-workers, peers and clients
- Solve problems
- Make decisions
Healthcare Social Workers Duties
In general, your duties are to collaborate with other professionals to assess and meet the needs of your clients. This includes advocating for them, helping them resolve crises and referring them to other services to meet needs such as legal aid, job placement or financial assistance when necessary. More specific tasks may include:
- Participating in one-on-one and group counseling sessions
- Investigating abuse or neglect cases, and taking appropriate follow-up action
- Understanding client goals, and evaluating and recording client progress
- Adjusting treatment approaches as necessary
- Educating family members about your client’s condition
- Coordinating client care and rehabilitation
- Developing and implementing programs that address social problems and improve community health
- Advising on community development and social policy
- Carrying out social research
Healthcare Social Workers Tools and Technology
A wide range of tools and technology help you do your job effectively. You use computers, whether they are desktop, notebook or personal. Knowledge of software is important. In particular, you need to be well versed in:
- Database user interface and query programs
- Desktop publishing software such as Microsoft Publisher
- Medical software and medical records software
- Presentation software such as Microsoft Power Point
- Word processing software such as Microsoft Word
Education and Training for Healthcare Social Workers
In general, a master’s degree offers the most advantages for healthcare social workers. However, plenty of people enter the field with only a bachelor’s degree. It’s also possible to enter with an associate degree. If you’re getting a master’s in a social work program of study, it does not matter what your bachelor’s degree is in. However, you should take classes in sociology, psychology, political science and economics.
Healthcare Social Workers Salary
In the United States, healthcare social workers earn pretty good money. The median salary is nearly $52,900, with the bottom 10 percent of healthcare social workers pulling in about $32,000 a year. The upper 10 percent makes at least $77,000. Employer type makes a big difference. For example, someone working in individual and family services could make nearly $15,000 less than someone with comparable experience and skills and who is employed by a hospital. However, hospitals, whether they are general medical or surgical, do employ the largest numbers of healthcare social workers.
Healthcare Social Workers Jobs by Geography
The states with the most healthcare social workers are California, New York, Massachusetts, Texas and Pennsylvania. However, Massachusetts, Missouri, Mississippi, Michigan and Pennsylvania employ the most healthcare social workers per thousand jobs. The states that pay the highest mean salaries in this field are California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Nevada and Oregon.