Medical social work focuses on supporting patients and their families in healthcare settings like hospitals and community clinics. These individuals play an important role as they help families navigate the medical system, providing counseling, and communicating a patient’s medical needs to the facility team. And that’s just a few of the things a medical social worker might be responsible for.
Are you interested in medical social work? Here are the steps needed to become a medical social worker:
#1: Complete your Bachelor’s degree.
You’ll need to complete a Bachelor’s degree in social work or a related field, such as sociology or psychology. While the Bachelor’s degree alone probably won’t get you a job as a medical social worker, it’s often required to be accepted for the next step: your master’s degree.
#2: Complete your Master’s degree.
Most medical social worker positions require that a candidate have a Master’s degree in social work (MSW). You’ll need to find an accredited program that provides courses relevant to medical environments. Some MSW programs concentrate specifically on medical social work and the healthcare world, but it doesn’t necessarily mean candidates need to concentrate on medical social work during their graduate program to qualify for jobs in health care settings.
#3: Complete fieldwork requirements.
Fieldwork, clinical hours, practicum, internships, externships… whatever the name, you’ll likely have to complete hands-on hours in a real-world setting before graduating from your MSW program. While specific timing and schedules may vary, MSW programs often include 16-20 hours of field placement for about two or three days a week for at least a year, if not more. These hours are critical for giving medical social worker candidates the real-world experience they need to perform once they’re hired.
#4: Become licensed.
Each state has their own licensure requirements to become a medical social worker. You’ll probably have to pass an exam administered by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB). And note that even once you’re licensed, you must maintain that licensure throughout your career as a medical social worker by completing continuing education requirements.
Becoming a medical social worker is definitely a lot of work. But it’s one of the most fulfilling and worthwhile careers one can have.
Interested in exploring a new career?
If you’re ready to explore a new field or expand upon your current one, there’s no time like the present. Contact the professionals at Health Advocates Network and visit our Jobs page to view available openings.