A career as a healthcare social worker is perfect for those who enjoy helping other people in times of distress, crises, and uncertainty. Healthcare social work is a specialty within the social work field. The social worker helps people to access services and education related to health problems. The goal is to have the client achieve and maintain a state of optimal health so they can function in their daily lives. The social worker acts as a client advocate, educator, coordinator of care, adviser, and strives to preserve the healthcare and dignity of the population they serve.
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A healthcare social worker takes on a variety of tasks depending on the environment in which they choose to work. They work with people who have chronic and acute healthcare needs such as HIV, diabetes, heart conditions, and trauma. They work in clinics, hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living, mental health, and other health care settings as well.
In the hospital, they help clients plan their discharge home. They coordinate services such as home health care, medical equipment rentals, transportation to follow up doctor visits and other related activities. They will help clients get admitted to inpatient and outpatient services, find funding sources, fill out paperwork, and find support resources for families. They assist with educational classes on things such as childcare, Alzheimer’s management, living with cancer, and HIV. They are concerned with all components of health and mental health care. They also participate in and advise on healthcare policy, services, and legislative issues.
Although most social workers work in an office, they may spend a lot of time away from the office visiting clients. School social workers may be assigned to multiple schools and travel around the school district to see students. Understaffing and large case loads may make the work stressful.