When an emergency trip to the hospital, a general surgery, or an outpatient treatment results in a serious situation such as a new-found disease or extensive treatment, there is always the question of what to do next. A hospital caseworker is assigned to the patient and his family to assist in answering questions and coordinating a plan of action.
Hospital caseworkers are responsible for helping patients and their families adjust in their time of need. As a hospital caseworker, you provide information about treatment plans. After discharge, you arrange for such services as home health services, meals-on-wheels and transportation. The caseworker's primary goal is to help patients cope with chronic, acute or terminal illnesses such as Alzheimer's, cancer or AIDS.
A caseworker must have at least a bachelor's degree in social work but may also have a degree in psychology or sociology. The bachelor's degree helps prepare a caseworker for the culturally and economically diverse people she will deal with. You also learn research methods and the standard practices of social work. To work in the health field, a master's degree is usually required. The master's degree prepares a caseworker for the clinical assessments. You also learn how to handle large caseloads and the in-depth details of social services that are available to patients. All states require licensing or certification and most states require at least 3,000 hours of supervised experience to get the license.
Required Skills and Knowledge
A hospital caseworker must have extensive knowledge of the community resources available to patients and their families. A working knowledge of eligibility requirement for state, local and federal programs is important and organizational skills are needed for prioritizing cases. Communication skills, both written and oral, are required. A caseworker also must have patience to work in sensitive situations, be objective, work independently and maintain positive relationships with the patients.
A hospital caseworker is a specialized social worker who works in hospitals, nursing homes and hospices. Often hospital caseworkers are referred to as medical or health care social workers. The health care social work field can be broken down even further with specializations in senior care or child care.
According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the median annual wages for a medical and public health social worker in May of 2008 was $46,650. Caseworkers who work in medical surgical hospitals averaged about $51,470 in 2008.
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