As the Baby Boomer population bubble reaches retirement age, demand on the nation’s healthcare infrastructure will continue to grow. Also legislation that provides health insurance for more individuals, plus the development of life-extending medicines and procedures, will dramatically increase the need for qualified social work professionals specializing in medical applications.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and O*Net, the occupational website, the number of positions for healthcare social workers will grow faster than almost all professions in the United States. The outlook is noted as “Bright” with an expected growth of at least 22% between 2012 and 2022. The number of healthcare social worker jobs should increase by a projected 70,000 or more during that period and the outlook is deemed “new and emerging in a high-growth industry” by these reputable sources.
Job Duties of a Healthcare Social Worker
The duties of the healthcare social worker are wide-ranging as well as very rewarding. Among their multiple responsibilities, these individuals operate in the medical environment to help individuals and families cope with difficult and even life-threatening medical situations. Usually healthcare social workers support caregivers, counsel patients, educate, and provide referrals for extended treatment. The healthcare social worker provides care, and even intervention, to promote better health and facilitate access to healthcare for those who need assistance.
Functions that healthcare social workers may perform include collaboration with doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals to outline courses of treatment, referrals to patients to outside resources to assist in further recovery, investigation of suspected child abuse to determine if protective solutions are required, and counseling individuals to recover from addictions and other self-destructive behaviors to return to a productive life.
Related duties include detailed record-keeping, substance abuse counseling, extensive client interviewing, communicating and collaborating with doctors and other healthcare professionals.
Qualities of a Successful Healthcare Social Worker
Concern for others, integrity, dependability, cooperation and tolerance for stress are important individual qualities for this profession. To be successful, the candidate must be able to communicate effectively. Active listening, strong reasoning and critical thinking skills, and effective verbal communication are also important. Social perceptiveness and problem sensitivity are important attributes to assess exactly what is being expressed and why individuals react as they do.
On any given day, the healthcare social worker will be communicating in face-to-face conversations as well as frequent email and telephone interaction. Group discussions occur often as a medical team determines the best course of action and strategies for particular individuals.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median wage for a healthcare social worker in 2014 was $51,930. The 25 to 75 percentile median wages ranged from $40,380 to $63,890. The top 10 percentile median annual wage was $76,940.
Education and Training
Extensive preparation and training are necessary to become fully engaged in the field of healthcare social work. Because of the importance and broad-ranging nature of this critical social and medical function, a post-graduate education, generally a master’s degree, is required. While pursuing an advanced degree in social work, the candidate will be taking important core subjects in business, management, and finance, while also being given classroom and practical exposure to medical and related fields.. This degree, plus experience in the industry that you will gain along the way, can lead to career growth and widening responsibilities in the industry.
Considering a Career in Healthcare Social Work?
Healthcare social work is perfect for the individual who possesses skills of communication, reasoning, and compassion. For anyone with these qualities who currently holds a bachelor’s degree, the pursuit of a Master of Social Work with a specialization in medical counseling can lead to a new, exciting and personally rewarding career. The additional education may be pursued on campus or online. In many cases, much of the program can be accomplished at night as you uphold other responsibilities,
With this degree in hand, the world opens up to great new opportunities in a well-respected and satisfying career.
Rutgers Online MSW Program
Pursuing your Master’s Degree at the School of Social Work via the Rutgers online program, you can learn and develop the skills and expertise to grow and excel professionally. A social work career requires lifelong learning and the MSW program lays the groundwork and provides the foundation to support your career in the growing field. The MSW program offers field placement assistance during your clinical studies and will help place you in public agencies, local nonprofit organizations, foundations and socially active corporations that fit your need