What Is Medical Social Work?

At HealthKeeperz, our approach to wellness is holistic. That means we focus on caring for the whole person — not only meeting your needs for physical care, but also for spiritual, emotional, and social support.
You can’t care for every aspect of a person without the properly trained personnel. That’s why we hire people of many different specialties, from registered nurses and occupational therapists to case managers and medical social workers.
“Medical social worker” — there’s a term you may not have heard before. Most people outside the healthcare field probably haven’t, yet medical social workers play an important role in caring for patients. Today, we’ll take a closer look into what they do and how they may be able to help you or a loved one.
Medical Social Work: An Important and Holistic Discipline

Medical social work is a sub-discipline within the larger field of social work. It deals with patients and families who are in need of “psychosocial” help, or help relating to a combination of social factors and individual behavior.
Some of the social factors that are addressed in medical social work are:
●      Income level
●      Family size and structure
●      Religion
●      Education
●      Housing
The individual thoughts and behaviors that are often managed by medical social workers include:
●      Psychotherapy
●      Grief counseling
●      Supportive counseling
●      Substance abuse
●      Family intervention
Healthcare is often inextricably tied to these factors; for example, a patient’s financial status may restrict their access to quality healthcare, or a patient may have existing psychological issues that make it hard for them to cope with illness. It is the medical social worker’s job to help the patient and his or her family navigate these problems and find a way to recovery.
Medical social workers help patients find balance in their personal, family, and social lives. Without this balance, it is often difficult — or even impossible — for a patient to recover from a medical ailment and reintegrate into society. Alternately, if a full recovery is not possible, medical social workers make it easier to manage chronic conditions and access helpful resources.
Qualifications for Becoming a Medical Social Worker
Aspiring medical social workers undergo extensive training and practice. First, they must complete a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) or a related field like psychology or sociology. Most medical social worker positions also require applicants to complete a master’s degree in social work (MSW).
During their graduate studies, aspiring medical social workers must complete many hours of fieldwork to graduate — often as many as 1,000. Finally, they must obtain licensure through both the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) and their state’s board of social work. Medical social workers are always learning, and must complete a variety of continuing education courses to maintain their licensure.
How Can Medical Social Work Help Me or My Loved Ones?
A medical social worker can help you and your family answer some of life’s most difficult and important questions, including:
●      When should I intervene in my loved one’s healthcare?
●      What community resources are available to help me or my loved one?
●      What is the best course of action to help me or a loved one heal physically, emotionally, and socially?
If you’ve been struggling with any of the above questions, we hope you’ll reach out to us for help from one of our skilled medical social workers. Give us a call at 800-309-3784 to begin the conversation.