We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a Hospital Social Worker?

Tricia Christensen
By
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGEEK is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGEEK, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A hospital social worker is an extensively trained hospital employee, who works in many types of hospitals, including standard medical facilities, children’s hospitals, and convalescent or long term care settings. These professionals focus on supporting patients and families during hospitals stays. They also help families prepare for discharge and ongoing care needs that might be required when a patient returns home. Such workers can be of extraordinary support to families and patients.

Though this may vary, most hospitals require a hospital social worker to possess a Master’s degree in Social Work (MSW). Many more facilities insist that these employees be on their way to receiving licensure or be licensed as a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW), which takes about 3000 more hours of supervised training after the master’s degree is completed. There are actually a number of jobs in medical social work for people who are completing this training, and these can be attractive because they are well-paid positions that are targeted toward training the person to be a hospital social worker while obtaining licensure hours.

In the capacity of hospital social worker, goal is to help patients and families smoothly transition through hospital care while also communicating with the primary medical team responsible for that care. The final goal, if achievable, is to get the patient and family home after care, but this is not always the outcome of a hospital stay. Patients may have a chronic illness that is better handled by discharge to a long time care facility or rehabilitation hospital. Some patients die while hospitalized and they may have a different set of needs in which social workers can assist and advise.

In any of these circumstances, the social worker keeps in touch with the family, sometimes on a daily basis, to determine the family’s needs. They could listen to upset family members or patients, help negotiate conversations between family members and treating physicians, give a family information on things like inexpensive local places to stay. With social work training these helpers also apply for government social services for which a patient or family qualifies by illness or financial status.

Another important job is to prepare patients for discharge or transfer. The extent of medical need at home and readiness of homes to receive patients must be considered. For example, the hospital social worker must find a shelter to take a patient who is homeless and released from the hospital or release can’t take place. Similarly a sick person requiring medical equipment or ongoing outpatient care usually has this arranged by the hospital social worker before discharge. In this capacity social workers may also make sure patients understand discharge instructions and may continue to be a contact for family or patients after they’ve returned home.

Hospital social workers can be greatly supportive to families. They may provide help, counseling, and instruction to family and patients during hospitalization. Their work facilitates communication between patients and families and medical provides, and social workers use their knowledge about social systems to help families gain extra support or care after discharge.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGEEK contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

Discussion Comments

By anon151321 — On Feb 10, 2011

This sounds like a wonderful article, but with my experience of social workers who have worked with my family they are pushy and talk down to the patient's family. Along with making the family feel like the patient is not being taken care of properly.

Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen

Writer

With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGEEK contributor, Tricia...
Read more
WiseGEEK, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGEEK, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.