Discussion 1: Health Care Setting and Medical Social Work
Medical social work has expanded far beyond the walls of hospitals. Medical social work is now practiced in myriad settings, including inpatient hospital units, hospital-based outpatient clinics, community-based medical clinics, mobile medical facilities, public health organizations, nursing homes, and hospice facilities. The types of treatment and modalities used by medical social workers are dictated by the health care settings in which they practice, the mission of the facility, the policies that govern the facility, and the individual patient’s needs.
To prepare for this Discussion, consider the role of the medical social worker in different health care settings. Think about a health care setting (such as a chronic care hospital, specialty hospital, public health department, or rural hospital) that is appealing to you.
By Day 3
Post a brief description of the health care setting you selected. Describe the patient population(s) served at the setting. Explain how the medical social worker functions in this health care setting. Identify factors about the health care setting that might challenge the medical social worker. Explain why. Explain ways you might address the challenges.
Discussion 2: Medical Social Work Scope of Practice
As mentioned previously, medical social work is a distinct field of practice within the social work profession. It encapsulates the values, ethics, principles, practice skills, and the person-in-environment perspective that are the cornerstone of the medical social work profession. Medical social workers tend to specialize in specific disciplines (e.g., oncology social worker, palliative social worker) to ensure a greater understanding of the course of illness, treatment options, and issues that patients might encounter.
The services provided by medical social workers in different disciplines can vary greatly. For example, a public health social worker might spend most of his or her time advocating in state and federal legislative forums for increased access to care for low-income children, whereas a social worker in a community-based medical clinic might be providing counseling and education to individual patients about diabetes or HIV/AIDS. It is important to keep in mind that despite the health care setting, disease area, or population served, medical social workers remain charged with identifying the patient and assessing his or her needs.
To prepare for this Discussion, think about the medical social work profession and consider a discipline (i.e., oncology social work, HIV/AIDS social work, psychiatric social work) of interest to you. Consider the distinct scope of practice within the discipline.
By Day 4
Post a brief description of a specific discipline of medical social work that you find interesting. Explain the scope of the medical social work practice within the discipline. Explain how you might apply your professional roles within the scope of practice to meet the needs of the patients in this discipline. Explain how you might address the needs of the patients that are beyond the scope of practice of your selected discipline.
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