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Healthcare Social Worker  What They Do

Just the Facts


Healthcare Social Workers Career Video



Provides individuals, families, and groups with the psychosocial support needed to cope with chronic, acute, or terminal illnesses. Services include advising family care givers, providing patient education and counseling, and making referrals for other services. May also provide care and case management or interventions designed to promote health, prevent disease, and address barriers to access to healthcare.

This career is part of the Human Services cluster Counseling and Mental Health Services pathway, Family and Community Services pathway.


A person in this career:

  • Collaborates with other professionals to evaluate patients' medical or physical condition and to assess client needs.
  • Advocates for clients or patients to resolve crises.
  • Refers 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.
  • Investigates child abuse or neglect cases and takes authorized protective action when necessary.
  • Counsels clients and patients in individual and group sessions to help them overcome dependencies, recover from illness, and adjust to life.
  • Plans discharge from care facility to home or other care facility.
  • Monitors, evaluates, and records client progress according to measurable goals described in treatment and care plan.
  • Modifies treatment plans to comply with changes in clients' status.
  • Identifies environmental impediments to client or patient progress through interviews and review of patient records.
  • Organizes support groups or counsels family members to assist them in understanding, dealing with, and supporting the client or patient.

Working Conditions and Physical Demands

People who do this job report that:

  • You would sit most of the time. There's some walking and standing. You may have to lift and carry things like books, papers or tools weighing 10 lbs. or less.
  • Exposed to disease and infections more than once a month through work such as patient care, laboratory work, and sanitation control
  • Work in this occupation requires being inside most of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves sitting more than one-third of the time

Working in this career involves (physical activities):

  • Seeing clearly at a distance
  • Seeing clearly up close
  • Speaking clearly enough to be able to be understood by others
  • Identifying and understanding the speech of another person

Work Hours and Travel

  • Irregular hours
  • Weekend work

Specialty and Similar Careers

Careers that are more detailed or close to this career:

  • Bereavement Counselor -- Provides support to terminally ill patients and their families.
  • Domestic Violence Advocate -- Advocates on behalf of community members that have been victims of domestic violence.
  • Family Support Worker -- Helps clients identify and obtain benefits and community services and may also help develop, organize or conduct programs aimed at the prevention and resolution of problems, such as substance abuse, while offering support for relationships, rehabilitation
  • Hospital Social Worker -- Mobilizes and makes community resources available to individuals or groups affected by chronic illness or trauma.
  • Outreach Coordinator -- Works for a non-profit, medical or community outreach organization and organize fundraisers, media events and other services.
  • Community Advocate --