Being hospitalized can be one of the most stressful situations you’ll face in your life. According to a recent study of stress, hospitalization ranks as the sixth most stressful incident in a person’s life, ranking just behind imprisonment.
This is where social work in hospitals comes in. Social workers in hospitals help patients and their family members overcome the emotional and physical challenges of hospitalization. This includes guiding them with emotional support and financial advice.
In this guide, we’ve compiled everything you need to know about how to become a hospital social worker.
Hospital social workers are health care professionals who provide emotional support to patients on the road to recovery.
Although they mostly work with patients at the hospital, their work isn’t finished once a patient returns home. A hospital social worker needs to evaluate a patient’s overall health to provide him or her with a discharge plan for home care that includes a meal plan, transportation schedule, and counseling.
A hospital social worker provides a patient with the necessary medical referrals for recovery, coordinates home health care services, and gives psychological support.
Some instances that would require the involvement of a social healthcare worker include incidents of sexual assault or child abuse. Hospital social workers may even be called upon to communicate with law enforcement if a patient’s case is under investigation.
Providing emotional support to patients whose mental health is suffering due to hospitalization is a key aspect of hospital social work.
Once a patient heads home, they will still need to attend follow-up appointments and undergo proper home care to fully recover. It is the duty of a hospital social worker to offer each patient’s family a detailed guide about how they should care for their relative once they are at home, including their nutritional intake.
It is also the responsibility of the social worker to assist law enforcement if there is an investigation related to a patient at the hospital.
As a hospital social worker, you must have strong interpersonal skills so that you can build relationships with inpatients. You will also need to be able to communicate with your colleagues, as you will be in charge of some administrative activities related to patient support. Below are some of the most crucial skills for a hospital social worker.
To maintain and coordinate discharge plans for multiple patients, you’ll need to be confident in your organizational skills. You will also need to have problem-solving skills so you can address a patient’s struggles with their illness.
Having communication and listening skills is also important. As a social worker, you will be in close contact with patients facing difficult situations, so you should know what to say to help their situation. You must always be patient and a good listener.
If you want to become a hospital social worker, you need to understand the complexity of this role. Being emotionally stable is vital. If you can’t stay strong when discussing stressful moments with patients, then you won’t be able to do your job.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for healthcare social workers is expected to grow by 14 percent in the next decade. The role of a hospital social worker is extremely important to the dynamic of health care facilities, which has led to increased demand.
If you’re considering this career, keep in mind that the average salary is $56,750 according to the bureau. However, you will eventually be able to move to more advanced positions within the healthcare services industry once you have gained some experience.
To get a job as a hospital social worker, you’ll need to have a bachelor’s degree in social work, psychology, or sociology. These degrees take about four years to complete, after which point you might also want to get certified by taking a Council on Social Work Education-accredited program. This can take anywhere from eight to 16 months.
To get a job in hospital social work, you’ll need to spend plenty of time preparing. This role requires that you have several years of social care education.
However, you don’t necessarily need to study at a top-level university to get employed in this field. Local programs can also be enough to help you get started in hospital social work.
The first step to becoming a hospital social worker is to get a bachelor’s degree in the field. This takes about four years. The Council on Social Work Education has accredited these types of programs so that students can start building their careers in social care right after graduation.
Although it’s not mandatory, you could also get a master of social work (MSW) to increase your chances of employment in a more advanced position. This master’s degree takes about two years to complete.
Before you start working in a hospital, you’ll need to get more field experience. Most aspiring hospital social workers start off in mental health facilities or drug abuse recovery centers as they get comfortable working firsthand with patients. After that, they can start looking for an entry-level job at a state social services agency to get used to handling patients’ caseloads.
Once you’ve spent some time working at a variety of health care and social work facilities, it is time to focus on your career. First, be sure to optimize your resume so that it reflects your skills. Showcase your experience and how you have used your competencies to overcome workplace challenges. This way, recruiters will be able to tell whether you’re right for the job.
Since all sorts of communication skills are key to hospital social care, you should keep a positive attitude during your interview. Display self-confidence, logical thinking, and empathy. Remember that recruiters are looking for strong interpersonal skills, so be prepared to prove that you’re capable of showing compassion and patience toward patients at the hospital.
To become a social worker at a hospital, you will need to have a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW), which you can get online. Just make sure the program you enroll in is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. You can also apply for entry-level social work positions if you have a bachelor’s degree in psychology or sociology.
If you get an MSW, you will be presented with more career opportunities and a higher salary. Graduates who have earned a master’s of social work can land jobs as social program administrators, social welfare researchers, or social policy advocates.
The most important factor when deciding where to study for your bachelor’s degree is that it is accredited. Below are some of the best schools to attend for social work.
The University of Southern California offers a CSWE-accredited online MSW. This program doesn’t require GRE scores and you can start in January, May, or September. To customize your course load, you can choose to specialize in Adult Mental Health and Wellness, Children, or Social Change and Innovation.
Boston University is a prestigious institution that offers an online MSW, with the option to major in clinical social work. It also offers post-degree certifications for clinical social workers who want to take their careers a step further. BU consistently ranks as one of the best-value institutions of higher learning in the United States.
UPenn offers an MSW program that covers all the fundamental aspects of working in health care. It teaches students about counseling, medical equipment, and how to develop strategies to cope with each patient’s unique situation and dietary needs.
The most important qualification you will need to become a hospital social worker is a bachelor’s or master’s degree. However, having a certification will give you more credibility. Below are some of the top certificates that can boost your career in social work.
To get this certification, you should have a membership with the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) and an MSW from an institution accredited by CSWE. Keep in mind that you should have 3,000 hours of experience caring for older adults. These should all be hours for which you can provide documentation.
This is one of the most essential certifications you can get. It will prove that you are capable of providing patients with financial aid information, dietary instructions, risk management, and counseling. It will also show that you can provide families with the proper instructions for the patients’ recovery at home.
This certification will help you demonstrate that you have the skills it takes to help oncology patients and their families or caregivers find the right path to recovery. Having this certification signals to potential employers that you have an exceptional level of competency.
Hospital social workers are in high demand amid the pandemic, and will probably continue to be for the next couple of years. These professionals help patients overcome the stress of hospitalization, and help fulfill daily administrative tasks at the hospital. If you enjoy helping others, have strong interpersonal skills, and are emotionally stable, then this career could be perfect for you.
However, there are a few points you should take into consideration. Although this is a medical role, you will not have the same salary as a doctor or nurse. You should also be emotionally prepared to experience difficult situations, remaining calm and patient throughout.
Hospital social work can be very rewarding. If you have been hospitalized, you will understand the importance of having someone by your side to guide you through the recovery process. As a hospital social worker, you can be that person for someone else.