Increased national focus on preventing childhood and adult obesity and diseases like diabetes, heart failure and strokes may change the way administrators working in the healthcare industry approach and provide and assess medical care. For example, practices to reduce hospital readmissions and improve the patient experience are currently being discussed and benchmarked in segments of the industry. In fact, in the February 2, 2012 Hospitals and Health Networks’ “Reducing Hospital Readmissions” article it is reported that, “The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services have been focusing on reducing acute care readmissions within 30 days of discharge through its Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program.”
To meet client and government demands, medical facilities have started to increase hiring, particularly in the private sector. For example, the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states in its November 2009 “Spotlight on Statistics, Healthcare” report that private sector healthcare jobs are growing. Additionally, professions that the BLS expects to experience the largest amount of job growth from 2006 through 2016 include registered nurses, personal and home care aides, home health aides, nursing aides, orderlies and attendants and medical assistants.
Healthcare social workers may work directly with patients, offering them counseling and mental health care. They might also work with patients’ family members and religious and community organizations that provide services to at-risk individuals. Having undergraduate and graduate social work and sociology degrees can help healthcare social workers to get promoted into senior roles that allow them to supervise other medical staff.
Functions healthcare social workers fill include meeting with children and adults to offer them counseling and support following a medical diagnosis. Social workers may also develop treatment plans, evaluate healthcare services to ensure the services meet their clients’ needs and help clients adjust to life changes including job loss, an injury or an illness. Furthermore, they partner with physicians and other medical staff members to help clients manage through illnesses and injuries.
Healthcare social workers may work in a comfortable office, scheduling clients for individual counseling sessions, or they might meet with clients at their homes or at community or medical facilities. Healthcare social workers might also work for hospice and palliative care agencies or substance abuse counseling and rehabilitation agencies.
Undergraduate degrees healthcare social workers can get include a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Bachelor of Science in Social Work. Graduate degrees for social workers include a Master of Science in Psychology or a Master of Science in Social Work. Most employers require healthcare social workers to have at least a Bachelor’s degree to start working with clients.As of 2010 healthcare social workers earned a median annual income of $42,480. According to the BLS, there were 650,500 healthcare social workers in the United States in 2010. The BLS expects this number to increase by 161,200 from 2010 through 2020. This represents a 25 percent growth rate which is faster than the job growth expected for other occupations over the decade.