How to Become a Medical Social Worker?

6 minute read
Medical Social Worker

Medical social workers are individuals that assist patients in hospitals or nursing homes and help them recover from their illness. Medical social workers often collaborate with other medical practitioners like doctors, nurses, therapists, etc and help patients in combating a terminal illness. They mainly work as a helping hand to doctors and are counted as medical assistants. As medical professionals hold influential positions in the lives of patients and help them get started on the road to recovery, this field is gaining popularity every day. This blog brings you a complete guide on what a Medical Social Worker do, how to become one as well as the educational requirements, salary, jobs and more!

Who are Medical Social Workers and Where do They Work? 

Medical social workers majorly support their clients as well as their family members through psychological counselling, case management, grief counselling and much more. Commonly, medical social workers address issues like catastrophic disability, end of life decisions, terminal illness, medication adherence, independent living resources and suicidal thoughts. It is observed that such practitioner’s work in medical settings such as hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation centres, home-care services, etc.

Some Knowledge checks: To enter the field, you need a master’s degree in social work. Your training will include both generalist social work skills and specialized medical knowledge that will help you communicate with physicians, nurses and other health care staff, as well as patients and their families.

Specializations for Medical Social Worker

  • Hospice or palliative care
  • Oncology (cancer)
  • Trauma
  • Emergency room
  • Medication management
  • Community education

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Skills Required to Become a Medical Social Worker

For everyone who is eager to become a medical social worker, along with attaining the right education, having the required set of skills works as the icing on a cake. Listed below are a few skills that will help you fulfil your dream of becoming a medical social worker- 

  • Strong interpersonal skills 
  • Ability to foster productive relationships with various patients and their families
  • Patience so that you can calmly listen to patients, to understand their needs
  • Must demonstrate compassion and empathy towards patients
  • Organisational skills 

Role of Medical Social Worker

  • Social workers in the healthcare industry play a variety of roles depending on their level of training and experience. 
  • Their jobs may include assessing new patients as they are admitted, working with families to coordinate care for children, helping patients and their families cope with illness, evaluating patients’ needs for hospitalization or outpatient programs, and coordinating discharge plans.
  • The most basic role is that of a social worker in a hospital setting. A social worker in this role typically assesses new patients who are being admitted to the hospital. 
  • They may also provide emotional support, counseling and planning assistance to patients and their families. Many hospitals employ full-time nurses who also act as patient advocates.
  • A healthcare social worker may work with the patient or family to develop an appropriate plan of care, including medications and treatments.
  •  If a patient requires admission to the hospital or if he or she needs outpatient treatment, an experienced social worker will work with physicians and other healthcare professionals to arrange the necessary services. 
  • They provide training aimed at helping staff better meet patients’ needs.

How to Become a Medical Social Worker? 

In order to pursue a career as a medical social worker, it is essential to seek attributes of the field through particular academic programs as well as gain the right exposure through internships. Learning the technicalities of the field through courses will assist you in tackling real-time situations during internships or full-time jobs. In order to become a social worker in the field of medicine, you may begin by pursuing the right course– 

Bachelor’s Courses Master’s Courses 
-Bachelor of Social Work
-Graduate Diploma in Social Service Worker
-Ontario College Diploma in Social Service Worker 
Masters in Social Work
-Master of Social Work (Qualifying) 
-Master of Science in Social Work
-PGCert Advanced Child and Family Social Work 
-Master of Social Work in Studies 

Eligibility Criteria

To make your way through the above-mentioned courses it is necessary for candidates to fulfil certain requirements such as- 

  • For Diploma/ Bachelor’s Courses: Formal education of 10 + 2 from a recognised board 
  • For Master’s Courses: A UG degree in like Bachelors in Social Work or any other likely degree with the minimum required GPA 
  • It is mandatory to present the score of the SAT/ ACT exam for UG courses whereas GRE scores are necessary for PG courses 
  • Minimum required score in IELTS, TOEFL, or any other English language proficiency exam 

Must Read: PhD in Social Work

Top Universities 

Many leading top universities in the world offer courses in social work. Listed below are the academic institutions from where you can pursue a course to become a medical social worker- 

Universities QS World Ranking 2023
University of Pennsylvania  13
Michigan State University  159
Western Governors University 
University of South Australia 363
The University of Auckland  87
Coventry University 651-700
Monash University  57
Flinders University 425
La Trobe University 316
Conestoga College

Top Universities in India

  1. JMI New Delhi – Jamia Millia Islamia
  2. IGNOU Delhi – Indira Gandhi National Open University
  3. MSU Baroda – Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda
  4. Christ University, Bangalore
  5. GGSIPU Delhi – Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University
  6. BHU Varanasi – Banaras Hindu University

Intern and Learn 

Once you have completed your desired education in the field of social work, the next step in the right direction would be to gain core insights of the field through an internship. Pursuing an internship in this field is more of fieldwork than a desk job. An internship will be a better opportunity, through which candidates can actually get a hold of what all they have learnt in the classroom. For seeking this experience you can apply to entry-level positions at rehabilitation centres or nursing homes. Being a prospective medical social worker, having due experience in the clinical setting will help you in performing well for the licensure exam.

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Earn Licensure as a Medical Social Worker

The process to seek a licence for working as a certified medical social worker differs from one country to another. Once the candidate has completed the formal education along with a minimum number of hours at the field, they can apply for a licence. Organisations like the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) will grant you an authority to work as a licensed medical social worker abroad. On the other hand, to pursue the same profile in India, you do not require any licence. 

Career Outlook

As soon as you seek a licence, you are all set to work as a medical social worker in your choice of the medical institution. Generally, the job of a social worker in the medical field is considered to be a challenging one as they may face new challenges every day but it also has a rewarding salary of around $ 55,000  (INR 40,00,000). Careers as Medical Social Worker:

  • Serving as a family therapist for sick children and their guardians
  • Helping a middle-aged cancer patient come to terms with a prognosis
  • Acting as a resident services coordinator within a senior health facility
Job Profile Avg. Salary
Medical case manager 5.1 Lakh
Mental health counselor 3.5 Lakh
Family therapist 9.8 Lakh
Clinical program manager 16 Lakh
Outpatient health specialist 7.6 Lakh
Community coordinator 2.5 Lakh

Challenges Faced by Medical Social Worker

The following are the challenges faced by Medical Social Worker :

  • Lack of legal support
  • Inadequate facilities available in healthcare
  • Unfavourable organizational structure
  • Lack of skilled professionals in the field

Day in the life of Medical Social Worker

Credits – Alyssa Marie

We hope that through this blog you were able to get familiar with the career map to follow for becoming a medical social worker.  If you are confused about choosing the right course abroad, then, get in touch with our experts at Leverage Edu and they will guide you in finding the best match course. Book a free e- meeting with us today!

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