Compared to other types of social work, social work in medicine is a totally different ballgame. There are completely different expectations, responsibilities, and duties. Medical social workers are responsible, generally speaking, for helping each patient navigate their medical care in a way that makes sense for them, leaving no grey areas or unexpected care. A medical social worker’s ultimate goal should be to advocate for the patient at every turn. Here we’ll discuss just a few of the many roles a medical social worker takes on.
1. Intervening in the Big Picture
Making sure someone has a hot meal on the table or a ride to work is one thing, and certainly makes a huge difference for the person receiving these services. But one unique trait of medical social workers is the ability to make a difference when it comes to the big picture. For example, the intervention of social work in medicine might involve kick-starting a better hospital food program or improving certain types of care within a hospital facility. Not only do these things help the individual patient, but they help all patients within the facility’s care.
2. Fostering a Sense of Community
Social workers in medicine have the ability to create communities for those who need them. For example, many cancer patients will work with a medical social worker. During chemotherapy, these patients’ self-esteem takes a huge hit during and after treatment. Their social worker has the ability to create peer groups with a specific purpose, whether it’s helping people specifically with cancer or simply helping people deal with the effects of staying in a hospital for an extended period of time. This feeling of community and belonging is priceless for someone who’s dealt with a traumatic medical experience and social workers are able to create that community because they work with so many patients at a time dealing with the same things.
3. Mental Health Services
Instead of calling in a psychiatrist or psychologist, many hospitals rely on the guidance of medical social workers with master’s degrees to serve patients’ mental health.
When it comes to social work and medical care, a medical social worker can assess a patient’s current mental health, provide on-site counseling services, and work alongside medical care consultants to refer a patient to formal psychiatric services if needed. Medical social workers can also provide support and assistance to patients’ families, and even healthcare staff and personnel.
4. Educating Each Patient
Patient education is an extremely important part of social work in medicine. Nurses and doctors are certainly capable of a large chunk of patient education, but their workloads might be much too heavy to help patients fully grasp their health needs. This is where a social worker comes in.
A unique area of concern when it comes to patient education concerns the repatriation of migrant workers. This is a global medical health issue. Since a medical social worker will be aware of each patient’s situation, he or she will be able to educate the patient in regards to what their medical care will look like.
Learn More About Social Work in Medicine
Allista is a unique company that prides itself on providing the best possible patient care. They work alongside America’s Hospital and Hospital en Casa to find the best health care treatment for migrants that have been deported or need medical repatriation. They work alongside social workers, medical personnel, and legal personnel to ensure the best possible experience for each patient.