Understanding whether or not you can work in a hospital with a social work degree is easy: Yes, you can. It’s harder to know what hospital social workers do, how much you’ll get paid and what level of education you need. Health care social work is a dynamic field with many different job options. Here are the basic facts about working in health care as a social worker.
Hospital Social Worker Job Duties
Every day as a health care social worker brings new challenges and roles because patients are always changing. One social worker might work exclusively with the organ transplant team to counsel families of organ donors and manage the necessary paperwork. Another hospital-based social worker could spend most days running individual and group therapy sessions for survivors of cancer. A common starting job for bachelor of social work (BSW) graduates is case management. This involves helping clients make scheduled appointments, following up with discharged patients to ensure their psychosocial needs are met and working with patients and their care team to increase patient compliance. Hospital social workers can specialize in particular diseases like cancer or alcoholism; you could also work with a particular population like children, immigrants or senior citizens.
With enough experience, you can move into a management role. You might concentrate full-time on administrative duties, or you can split your hours between client interaction and employee supervision. If this is your career goal, consider earning a master’s in health care administration (MHA) or a master’s of business administration (MBA) with a focus on health care management.
Health Care Social Worker Earnings & Benefits
According to the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 167, 730 health care social workers earning an average of $56,810 per year. Pay rates vary based on education level, responsibilities and location. Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSWs) at urban hospitals will earn more than BSW graduates at rural facilities. Typically, medical social workers are full-time employees with limited overtime hours. You’ll enjoy standard benefits like health insurance, PTO, and continuing education opportunities. Many hospitals offer pay incentives for weekend or late-night hours. You can choose to work PRN, or as-needed, and earn a higher pay rate while forgoing benefits like paid time off.
Certified Social Worker in Health Care (C-SWHC)
Currently, the C-SWHC is the only certificate or license designed specifically for social workers in a hospital setting. To earn this certification, you’ll need a master’s degree in social work (MSW); there are no hospital social work certificates for BSW holders. After you earn your graduate degree, you’ll need 3,000 hours of social work employment in a health care social work position.. It’s preferable for you to work under an experienced social worker, but these 3,000 hours can also be supervised by a license health care professional. To maintain your certification, you’ll need to complete regular continuing education credits — at least 48 hours every 2 years, with at least 20 of those hours directly related to health care social work.
Related Resource: Top 10 Affordable Master of Social Work Online (MSW) Degrees
Hospital-based social work is an exciting field because you’ll reach people in some of the darkest days of their entire life. With your social work degree, you’ll be ready to help hospital patients lower stress and improve health outcomes.