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What Does a Hospital Social Worker Do?

If you are looking to make a significant impact as a social worker, consider a career in healthcare as a hospital social worker. The position often requires a Master of Social Work degree — a requirement those interested can satisfy by enrolling in an online master’s degree program.

Job Duties

Hospital social workers support patients and families as they deal with the emotional, social and financial aspects of a health diagnosis. They also help with decision-making, advocate for patient rights and make sure patients receive proper care in their time of need. According to the National Association of Social Workers, hospital social workers may also do the following:

  • Help patients and families understand the illness and its treatment options.
  • Diagnose and treat underlying mental illnesses through crisis intervention, counseling and psychotherapy.
  • Coordinate funding for medications, medical equipment or other services.
  • Coordinate referrals to appropriate agencies for follow-up care.
  • Participate in patient-care conferences with a multidisciplinary team of healthcare providers.

In addition to serving in clinical roles, hospital social workers with an MSW can also become high-level managers or administrators.

A Hot Job

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, healthcare social workers are in high demand. The BLS expects employment to grow by 27 percent through 2022 because the need for healthcare social workers will grow as Baby Boomers age. Salary-wise, they earn from $45,155 to $58,324 annually, according to data as of March 2017, and medical social workers with an advanced degree typically have higher incomes than those without a graduate degree.

Your Online MSW

An online master’s in social work offers you the opportunity to complete program requirements at a pace that fits your personal and work commitments. You can earn the degree in two years by going full time, or finish your MSW in a year if you already have a bachelor’s degree in social work.

The first year of the program includes instruction in social work practice, history, policy, diversity and oppression, research, and human behavior. The advanced year of the program includes courses such as advanced direct practice, community and agency contexts for direct practice, advanced social policy and 12 hours of electives.

With access to experienced faculty and university research tools at your fingertips, an online master’s degree program can offer the expertise you need to elevate your social work career.

Learn more about the LSU online MSW program.


Sokanu: What Is a Healthcare Social Worker?

NASW Center for Workforce Studies & Social Work Practice: Social Workers in Hospitals & Medical Centers: Occupational Profile

Careers in Psychology: Start a Medical Social Work Career

Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment Statistics for Healthcare Social Workers, May 2016 Medical Social Worker (BSW) Salaries

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