Is a Medical Social Worker a Member of Your Health Care Team? | Aplastic Anemia and MDS International Foundation

Is a Medical Social Worker a Member of Your Health Care Team?

A medical social worker is part of an interdisciplinary treatment team, which can include doctors, nurses, clergy, physical therapists and other health specialists. The social worker helps the patient to understand the selected course of treatment, guides the patient through the process and engages in discharge planning and patient advocacy. The social worker also gives emotional support and counseling to patients and their families.

The field of social work utilizes social theories to understand human problems, to help improve people's lives, and to improve society as a whole. Many who work in this field specialize in particular areas such as helping children, assisting life-threatening problems or illnesses, or aiding people in overcoming addictions. 

Social workers do a number of important things related to chronic diseases like bone marrow failure:

•    They advocate for their patients
•    Help educate patients and teach them new skills to manage their new normal, which might include hospital admission(s); possible role changes andexploring emotional  social responses to illness and treatment
•    Link clients to essential resources within the community, like support groups
•    Counsel patients and their families
•    Research problems to find solutions
•    Arrange for resources/funds to finance medications, durable medical equipment, and other services needed

How do you find a medical social worker? There are many places to find professional social workers who provide individual psychotherapy and other forms of mental health assistance, including group therapy and support groups. Here are a few suggestions:

•    Talk to trusted friends, family, or clergy about professionals they may know
•    Ask another health care provider, such as a family doctor, for a recommendation
•    Ask your health insurance company for a mental health provider list
•    Use a referral service from a national professional organization such as the National Association of Social Work’s “Help Starts Here”.
•    Contact a local or national mental health organization or national medical society
•    Look in the phone book under “social service organizations” and “mental health”