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Social Worker, Medical
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Job Description

Job CategoryCommunity & Social Services

Job DescriptionMedical and public health social workers provide persons, families, or vulnerable populations with the psychosocial support needed to cope with chronic, acute, or terminal illnesses, such as Alzheimer's disease, cancer, or AIDS. They also advise family caregivers, counsel patients, and help plan for patients’ needs after discharge by arranging for at-home services, from meals-on-wheels to oxygen equipment. Some work on interdisciplinary teams that evaluate certain kinds of patients—geriatric or organ transplant patients, for example. Medical and public health social workers may work for hospitals, nursing and personal care facilities, individual and family services agencies, or local governments.

Working ConditionsFull-time social workers usually work a standard 40-hour week; however, some occasionally work evenings and weekends to meet with clients, attend community meetings, and handle emergencies. Some, particularly in voluntary nonprofit agencies, work part-time.

Social workers usually spend most of their time in an office or residential facility, but also may travel locally to visit clients, meet with service providers, or attend meetings. Some may use one of several offices within a local area in which to meet with clients. The work, while satisfying, can be emotionally draining. Understaffing and large caseloads add to the pressure in some agencies. To tend to patient care or client needs, many hospitals and long-term care facilities are employing social workers on teams with a broad mix of occupations, including clinical specialists, registered nurses, and health aides.

Salary Range Median annual earnings of medical and public health social workers were $45,700 in 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $35,500 and $57,700. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $28,100, and the top 10 percent earned more than $69,100.

Median annual earnings in the industries employing the largest numbers of medical and public health social workers in May 2008 were: hospitals ($51,470), home health care services ($46,930), local government, except education and hospitals ($44,140), nursing and personal care facilities ($41,080), and individual and family services ($38,370).