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Details for Medical and Public Health Social Workers


Provide persons, families, or vulnerable populations with the psychosocial support needed to cope with chronic, acute, or terminal illnesses, such as Alzheimer's, cancer, or AIDS. Services include advising family care givers, providing patient education and counseling, and making necessary referrals for other social services.


  • Collaborate with other professionals to evaluate patients' medical or physical condition and to assess client needs.
  • Investigate child abuse or neglect cases and take authorized protective action when necessary.
  • Refer patient, client, or family to community resources to assist in recovery from mental or physical illness and to provide access to services such as financial assistance, legal aid, housing, job placement or education.
  • Counsel clients and patients in individual and group sessions to help them overcome dependencies, recover from illness, and adjust to life.
  • Organize support groups or counsel family members to assist them in understanding, dealing with, and supporting the client or patient.
  • Advocate for clients or patients to resolve crises.
  • Identify environmental impediments to client or patient progress through interviews and review of patient records.
  • Utilize consultation data and social work experience to plan and coordinate client or patient care and rehabilitation, following through to ensure service efficacy.
  • Modify treatment plans to comply with changes in clients' status.
  • Monitor, evaluate, and record client progress according to measurable goals described in treatment and care plan.
  • Supervise and direct other workers providing services to clients or patients.
  • Develop or advise on social policy and assist in community development.
  • Oversee Medicaid- and Medicare-related paperwork and recordkeeping in hospitals.
  • Conduct social research to advance knowledge in the social work field.
  • Plan and conduct programs to combat social problems, prevent substance abuse, or improve community health and counseling services.


  • Investigative - Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.
  • Social - Social occupations frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. These occupations often involve helping or providing service to others.

Education, Training, Experience

  • Education - Most of these occupations require graduate school. For example, they may require a master's degree, and some require a Ph.D., M.D., or J.D. (law degree).
  • Training - Employees may need some on-the-job training, but most of these occupations assume that the person will already have the required skills, knowledge, work-related experience, and/or training.
  • Experience - Extensive skill, knowledge, and experience are needed for these occupations. Many require more than five years of experience. For example, surgeons must complete four years of college and an additional five to seven years of specialized medical training to be able to do their job.



  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Writing - Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Active Learning - Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
  • Learning Strategies - Selecting and using training/instructional methods and procedures appropriate for the situation when learning or teaching new things.
  • Monitoring - Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
  • Social Perceptiveness - Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
  • Coordination - Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
  • Persuasion - Persuading others to change their minds or behavior.
  • Service Orientation - Actively looking for ways to help people.
  • Complex Problem Solving - Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
  • Judgment and Decision Making - Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
  • Systems Evaluation - Identifying measures or indicators of system performance and the actions needed to improve or correct performance, relative to the goals of the system.
  • Time Management - Managing one's own time and the time of others.

Related Careers

  • Child, Family, and School Social Workers
  • Occupational Therapists
  • Physical Therapists
  • Recreational Therapists
  • Residential Advisors
  • Social and Human Service Assistants
Wages for this career
America's Career InfoNet