Medical social work is a distinct field of practice within the social work profession. It encapsulates the values, ethics, principles, practice skills, and the person-in-environment perspective that are the cornerstone of the medical social work profession. Medical social workers tend to specialize in specific disciplines (e.g., oncology social worker, palliative social worker) to ensure a greater understanding of the course of illness, treatment options, and issues that patients might encounter.
The services provided by medical social workers in different medical settings (e.g. urgent care, emergency, pediatric, oncology, endocrinology, HIV, etc.) can vary greatly. For example, a public health social worker might spend most of his or her time advocating in state and federal legislative forums for increased access to care for low-income children, whereas a social worker in a community-based medical clinic might be providing counseling and education to individual patients about diabetes or HIV/AIDS. It is important to keep in mind that despite the health care setting, disease area, or population served, medical social workers remain charged with identifying the patient and assessing his or her needs.
Medical social workers assume various distinct roles within different healthcare practice settings. These roles range from educator and advocate to counselor, liaison, and mediator. The generalist intervention model (GIM) informs medical social work practice, with these roles reaching across each stage of the model. Medical social workers view patients and their problems in context, combine practice skills and techniques that meet the individual situation and implement interventions across the multiple systems present in the patient’s life. The interventions are implemented on a continuum ranging from micro to mezzo to macro levels.
It is important to be mindful of the fact that patients are not the only people with whom medical social workers practice. It is not uncommon for medical social workers to intervene with family members and support caregivers, cooperate with members of the community, and collaborate with other healthcare professionals as well.
As a reminder Day 1=Monday (of the week); Day 2=Tuesday; Day 3=Wednesday; Day 4=Thursday; Day 5=Friday; Day 6=Saturday; Day 7=Sunday)
Post by Day 4: 1). Provide a brief descriiption of a specific medical setting for which you may be interested in working as a medical social work. 2). Explain the scope of the medical social work practice within this medical setting. 3). Explain the different social work roles within the scope of practice you might take on to meet the needs of the patients in this practice setting. 4). Explain how these different roles might directly address three issues related to patient care and health outcomes (e.g. noncompliance to with treatment regimen, patient education, patient training, increasing coping, etc.).
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