Medical Social Work

Medical Social Work

Medical social work or Med.SW is a sub-discipline of social work, also known as Hospital social work and Healthcare Social Work. Medical social workers typically work in a hospital, outpatient clinic, community health agency, skilled nursing facility, long-term care facility or hospice. Social workers in this field have a graduate (post graduate) degree or a bachelor's degree with graduate/post graduate diploma in healthcare specialization, and work with patients and their families who face certain psychosocial barriers. Medical social workers assess the psychosocial functioning, environmental and support needs of patients and families and intervene as necessary. Interventions may include connecting patients and families to necessary resources and supports in the community; providing psychotherapy, supportive counseling, or grief counseling; or helping a patient to expand and strengthen their network of social supports. Medical social workers typically work on an interdisciplinary team with professionals of other disciplines (such as medicine, nursing, physical, occupational, speech and recreational therapy, etc.)

Medical or Hospital Social Work is defined as “Social work practiced in a responsible relationship to medicine and public health within the structure of programs of health care. Initially, this field of social work practice was concerned almost exclusively with the social needs of problems of ill person s under care in hospitals and civics.




Robert L. Barker defined Medical Social Work as “The social work practice that occurs in the hospitals and other health care settings to good health, prevent illness, and aid physically ill patients and their families to resolve the social and psychological problems related to illness. He also stated that medical social work also sensitizes other health care provides about the social psychological aspect of illness (Barker, 1995).


"The medical social worker seeks to remove those obstacles, either in the patient’s surroundings or in their mental attitude, that interfere with successful treatment, thus freeing the patient to aid in his recovery as a whole person” - Ida Cannon, 1923

Miss E.M.R Clarkson in her book Medical Social work defined Medical social work as a specialized branch of social work practice in hospitals, clinics, community health center, and sometimes in general practice. Its practice consists of understanding the sick person as a human being, temporarily or permanently incapacitated by illness, someone whose living habit may be disrupted, who may be away from home for long periods on end, who may be unemployed and consequently penniless, or who may react badly to illness or disfigurement, and working with doctors, nurses and others in trying to help them (Clarkson,1974).



By analyzing the previous discussion about medical social work we can identify such criteria of medical social work
1.     Medical social work is a professional and specialized branch of social wok.
2.     Here the social work method, skill, philosophy is being used for the treatment of a patient.
3.     Medical social work emphasize not only for treatment but also it attempts to provides training and rehabilitation facilities.
4.     In medical social work social case work and group therapy are used properly.
5.   Hospital/medical social work help a patient or problematic person so that they can solve their problem next except the medical diseases. Ex: Drug addiction
6.   Medical social work is a integrated attempts of spiritual therapy, psycho-social, religious and educational therapy.
7.  Here poor patient get help and guideline to adjust with the hospital environment.
8.     After all medical social work provides counseling follow up, treatment, home visit, psycho-social therapy with applying the social work method principle and code of ethics of social work discipline.
Medical social work is a social work practiced in a responsible relationship to medicine and public health within the structure of program of health and medicine.

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