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For this career, by 21 people, from 10 (best) to 1 (worst).

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Inside Health Social Worker Careers

Things you need to know, but nobody tells you

 

Biggest Surprises


"Job Hunting...
I was surprised about how hard it is to find a job after graduating. Be prepared to network and don't be afraid to ask people at the school if they know of any job openings." (Social Work; 2013)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in California, female
School: Studied Sociology at California State University Stanislaus in California; completed Bachelor degree in 2010


"True Effects...
My profession is much more saddening then I first thought it would be." (Social Worker; 2013)

Career: 7 years of experience, currently based in California, male
School: Studied Psychology at San Francisco State in California; completed Bachelor degree in 2006


"I was surprised to find I had to be familiar with resources in the state where I lived as well as the state where I worked as they differ from state to state. I was surprised that I had to educate the Nursing staff regarding some of the patients needs that effected their health care" (Health Social Worker; 2013)

Career: 25 years of experience, currently based in Tennessee, female
School: Studied Social Work And Psychology at University Of TN At Chattanooga (UTC) in Tennessee; completed Bachelor degree in 1980


"Navigating The Competing Egos...
I was surprised at how much office politics affects decision-making. Working at an academic hospital can be awful because you're dealing with PhD egos in addition to MDs. Thankfully, RA's can often avoid the mind-numbing self-centeredness of it all." (Behavioral Health Research Assistant; 2013)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in Virginia, male
School: Studied Psychology at Iowa State University in Iowa; completed Bachelor degree in 2011


"The Knowledge And Skills Needed Change Constantly...
The most surprising thing to me was that there were so many times that nothing you learned in your studies had anything to do with the situation. It was [and still is] a constant battle to find the newest information and skills to meet the ever changing case work. You need to constantly be aware of changes in all the areas of the field at all times-or you will be left behind." (Social Worker; 2013)

Career: 30 years of experience, currently based in New York, female
School: Studied Social Work at Niagara University in New York; completed Bachelor degree in 1980


"Things Change Often...
What has surprised me most is the instability. Things change constantly." (Employment Coordinator; 2013)

Career: 10 years of experience, currently based in Missouri, male
School: Studied Business Administration at Central Methodist University in Missouri; completed Bachelor degree in 2005


"I was surprised how much paper-pushing that I have to attend to. I want to help people, not drown behind and endless stack of papers. I also was surprised at the amount of fast-paced diagnosis that goes on. No one takes the time to actually look over things in detail in some cases." (Mental Health Associate; 2013)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in Wisconsin, male
School: Studied Psychology at St. Norbert College in Wisconsin; completed Bachelor degree in 2012


"Difficulty In Finding A Job...
I was really surprised how difficult it was to find a job at first. I really had to have some outside connections to get my current job. I'm also a little disappointed with my current pay, but I realize I have to start from the bottom and slowly work my way up." (Health Social Worker; 2013)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in Texas, male
School: Studied Human Biology at University Of Texas At Austin in Texas; completed Bachelor degree in 2012


"Though I'm not a social worker (I'm essentially an administrator in training until I complete my Master's), I was surprised about how extensive my career is. There are so many options available at all education levels, at all sorts of levels. I could be a social worker in a hospital or hospice; I can be an advocate at a rape center; I can assist with therapies & those with mental illnesses & stress disorders. There's much variety which will lead me to believe that I will never become bored." (Social Worker; 2013)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in Georgia, female
School: Studied Sociology, With A Concentration In Healthcare. at Georgia Regents University (Formerly Augusta State/Georgia Health Sciences) in Georgia; completed Bachelor degree in 2012


"How Illness Changes Everything...
I was surprised about how much stress being ill puts on the patient and their family members. Seeing people go from having a normal life and then everything just changing all because of an illness" (Social Work; 2013)

Career: 9 years of experience, currently based in Florida, female
School: Studied Psychology at FIU in Florida; completed Bachelor degree in 2004


"Children's Mental Health Conditions...
What has surprised me most about my career so far are the variations to people that come in with varying levels of mental illnesses. I never really expected to see small children come in for treatments." (Mental Health Advisor; 2013)

Career: 3 years of experience, currently based in Florida, male
School: Studied Psychology at Florida International University in Florida; completed Master degree in 2011


"High Tolerance Of People Required...
I was surprised at how hard it was to deal with family members. I looked at Social Work as a helping career and I thought I wanted to help people, but people are so rude and unappreciative." (Social Worker; 2013)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in Virginia, female
School: Studied Psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University in Virginia; completed Bachelor degree in 2007


"Many Different Career Opportunities...
I was surprised at the sheer number and variations of health careers. I choose to work in a Public Health setting and the numerous job fields I could go into are shocking. I was also very surprised that face to face contact with people is limited in this field, it is mostly office work such as planning events and analyzing data." (Health Educator; 2013)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in California, female
School: Studied Health Science at California State University, Chico in California; completed Bachelor degree in 2011


"Preventative Healthcare...
I didn't think I would have to spend so much time and effort into promoting preventive measures for diseases." (Healthcare Social Workers; 2013)

Career: 3 years of experience, currently based in California, male
School: Studied Social Work at University Of California, Irvine in California; completed Master degree


"Importance Of Being There For Patients And Their Family Member And Providing Support And Education...
The interactions with the people I work with is very rewarding. You realize through this work just how important what you do is and the people you care for that rely on you to help them. It helps to give me purpose." (Social Worker; 2013)

Career: 3 years of experience, currently based in New Jersey, male
School: Studied Sociology at Farmingdale University in New York; completed Associate degree in 2003


"My Impact On The Transition Of Death...
Not only was surprising/scary to see people dying; it was surprising to see how much the help I was giving out was affecting their families in a positive way through the transition into their loved ones' deaths. When I noticed what impact I had on these individuals, even as an intern, I knew what I was doing was something to be proud of." (Hospice Social Worker; 2013)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in Michigan, male
School: Studied Social Work at Macomb Community College in Michigan; completed Associate degree in 2012


"Unique Qualifications Are Important...
It is a difficult field to find employment in especially with out specialties such as being a medically qualified translator or being of a contextually needed faith- i.e. Catholic or Buddhist, in areas with patients of those populations." (Hospital Chaplain; 2013)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in California, male
School: Studied Pastoral Care at Pacific School Of Religion in California; completed Master degree in 2011


"Initially, I was surprised at how little other professionals understood the role of a social worker. As a hospital social worker, I was constantly having to demonstrate and define my role to others. More recently, I have been surprised and concerned about the increasing amount of governmental regulation in the field of counseling and therapy, and decreasing resources for people in need which means increasing expectations of social workers." (Clinical Social Work; 2013)

Career: 30 years of experience, currently based in Washington, female
School: Studied Social Work at Portland State University in Oregon; completed Master degree in 1984

Best & Worst Things About This Career


Patient Access Representative: "The best part of my career is that my organization is helping people everyday. We are giving them access to healthcare that they otherwise wouldn't have. Knowing that there are people on our plan being treated for cancer, or a child receiving life saving surgery, is really satisfying. Without a company like ours, we don't know that these patients would ever get the care they require. The worst part of my career is being "tied" to my desk by needing to be at my phone at all times. We don't get face-to-face interactions as all of our servicing is done via phone. Therefore, this job requires a lot of sitting." (2011)


Peer Support Specialist: "The best part of my career is that I am able to focus on being human and what that means for all different people regardless of race, culture, or educational level and assist others in remembering that we are, as a human race, peers on the emotional level. The worst part of my career is that I sometimes get drained from hearing all the grief and pain in people and need to recharge my personal batteries." (2011)


Social Worker: "The best part of this job is getting to intimately know families and individuals at a significant point in their lives. The strength, courage and honesty are often inspiring and heart warming. Knowing that I am bringing some comfort and support at a difficult time in someone's life is very rewarding. The hardest part of this job is not being able to resolve all issues got patients and accepting that patients will ultimately die." (2011)


Intensive Care Coordinator: "The best part of this job is helping the children, which is very important to me. When our team has recommended ideas to help the family reach their goals and communicate better, it is ultimately going to help the child. For young children in particular, the family unit is the most important environment, and it is essential that the family's needs are met in order for the child to get the most benefit. The worst part would be working some nights because you have to plan meetings according to the family's schedule." (2009)

Career Background


Health Social Worker

  Schools and Degrees
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Career Video

Career Tips


"Paperwork...
Make sure to know that it is not what it is like on TV. It is a lot of paperwork." (Social Work; 2013)


"Career Advice For New Social Workers...
Care about the people that you are there to care for. If you just make it about when you start and go home you won't be satisfied with your career. If you make it more about providing the best that you can, you will see in the faces of the people that you care for." (Social Worker; 2013)


"Learn How To Help Families Deal With Illness...
I would recommend trying to take as many classes as possible that deal with family dynamics. Also learning how to deal with sensitive issues and how to discuss them" (Social Work; 2013)


"How To Be Successful...
Make sure that you want to help all types of people, even those who you disagree with. Remember the greater good of the work you do and try to stay positive." (Social Worker; 2013)


"Make Connection To Find A Job...
I would really make sure you know someone in the field and make some connections. That way when you graduate, your job search will be much easier. Also volunteering outside of school really adds a positive note to your resume when applying." (Health Social Worker; 2013)


"Keep A Level Head...
Be prepared to any possible change." (Mental Health Advisor; 2013)


"Don't Get Too Emotionally Invested...
Be sensitive to the patient's health conditions. You must, however make sure you don't become too attached with the patient if you're a healthcare social worker working in a hospice." (Healthcare Social Workers; 2013)


"Have Tough Skin...
Have tough skin because its a very difficult job emotionally." (Social Worker; 2013)


"Be Prepared For Industry Needs...
Specialize in what is projected to be needed, like palliative care. Brush up on fluency in non-English languages." (Hospital Chaplain; 2013)


"This Work Is Sacrificial...
Make sure you're willing to sacrifice yourself for others every day." (Employment Coordinator; 2013)


"Volunteering Can Be A Big Help...
Along with your studies, stay aware of job situations around you-volunteer!" (Social Worker; 2013)


"Being Fair And Prepared...
- Be prepared for situations you've never thought of yourself being in. - We all have stereotypes that we've been brought up with; however, you need to treat each and every patient as well as the next regardless of their habits, choices, color, etc. if" (Hospice Social Worker; 2013)


"Go For A Masters Degree...
If it is at all possible, obtain your Masters Degree in Public Health as early on as possible if you wish to work in this field. While there are certainly some opportunities with a bachelors degree, there are 10 fold more with a Masters and in the long run there is much more room for advancement." (Health Educator; 2013)


"Which Path Is For You...
Have an idea about whether you want to work at a private company or stay in academia." (Behavioral Health Research Assistant; 2013)


"Make Sure You Have The Right Credentials...
Make sure you have the correct credentials when applying for a job. If you have the wrong credentials, you will not find a job, and find yourself working for minimum wage very quickly." (Mental Health Associate; 2013)


"Work Closely With Nurses...
1.be very aware of social work studies and how they apply to your clients. I found a lot of overlap between poor social situations and how health could be affected by social circumstances. 2.consult with Nursing staff regarding patients, and be open to learning all you can about the patients health care. Develop an open, sharing relationship" (Health Social Worker; 2013)


"Majority Of Job Is Administrative...
Make sure you become very experienced in administrative duties, as 80-90% of our work involves paperwork, working with co-workers, & other general tasks. You can do this by acquiring a job in an office while in school, or volunteering at medical establishments to get that upper hand. You'll learn helpful office (& medical, if it applies) lingo, gain general experience, & will build skills needed to work in such an environment." (Social Worker; 2013)


"Medical Terminology...
This job requires some knowledge of the terminology used in the medical field. When a patient calls and says, "I have been losing my hair and I need to know what kind of doctor to see," you need to have enough knowledge to be able to ask probing questions such as, "Have you talked with your primary care doctor?" and "Has your doctor ordered any blood tests?" and "Have the blood tests indicated any hormonal or metabolic issues?" and "Do you believe the hair loss is from medication?" Asking questions like these can assist you in determining whether this patient may best be served by an endocrinologist, an allergist, or a dermatologist." (Patient Access Representative; 2011)


"Some Good Reading...
Read Mary Ellen Copeland's WRAP literature. She writes from the heart. Follow up with mental health news and reading from SAMHSA (Substance Abuse Mental Health Association - a government agency that provides free literature to anyone who requests it) as well as staying on top of the state legislation concerning anything to do with how the state provides mental health services. LISTEN to what your peers around are feeling, needing, and saying." (Peer Support Specialist; 2011)


"Some Problems Can't Be Solved...
1. Volunteer in the hospice field to be sure you are comfortable working with terminal patients. 2. Learn to be comfortable with not being able to solve all problems. 3. You will need to obtain a graduate degree in Social Work in order to enter this field. Try and do an internship in a nursing facility or hospice setting. 4. Comfort in computer word processing skills is an asset." (Social Worker; 2011)


"Give Thought To Which Age Group...
In pursuing a career in mental health, I would recommend starting with the age group you are most comfortable with and getting as much experience with it as possible. Also, read whatever you can about that age group so you really get a good understanding about how that group thinks. Of course each individual will be different, but it also helps to know what is common for that age, what challenges they are faced with, etc." (Intensive Care Coordinator; 2009)