I used to be one of those people that had no idea what a Medical Social Worker did. Honestly, I didn’t even know that they existed until I started school here and started hearing that in classes. I thought to myself: Well what in the heck could a social worker do in a hospital other than possibly make CPS and APS referrals? That was very naïve of me but that’s how it is, right. So after a while I made it one of my goals to get an internship in the medical center for my second year field placement. When I went to the marketplace I knew the agencies with which I was going to visit and sign up to interview. I interviewed with several hospitals and was excited about the prospect of being in a completely foreign setting. I had done case management for two years with Communities in Schools, Baytown and at my first field placement with the Trafficked Persons Assistance Program at YMCA International. When I was accepted at The Methodist Hospital I was so excited.
I would be starting my first semester in the Cardiology and Cardiovascular post-operation units. When the last week of August rolled around I started getting nervous. My first week at Methodist was intimidating to say the least. I went to Interdisciplinary rounds and didn’t understand anything they were talking about. Everyone was writing notes and I didn’t even know how to spell the words they were saying. I was lost! Those first few weeks were exhausting because I wanted to learn everything that was being introduced to me….insurance policies, levels of care, medical terminology, and the list goes on. Eventually I started realizing that I was not the only one that was going through this in their field placements. I was starting at the same point that many people start from. I would accompany my field instructor into patients rooms and see her work her social work Wonder Woman skills…it was awesome!
Social Workers are crucial in hospitals. Often we are the only person that will take into account the patient’s social context….we are the patient’s advocates many of the times. Social workers assist with discharge planning, community resource referrals, psychosocial assessments, crisis intervention, and support for families as well as patients. Social workers are the people that everyone runs to when they hit a road block with a patient. Doctors, nurses, physical therapists, families all need us and come to us for problem solving. Currently, I am finishing up my rotation in one of the Methodist Intensive Care Units, and there the social worker focuses on grief and bereavement support, end of life issues, discharge planning, and offering tons of emotional support to families. I will be doing a rotation on the Psychiatry unit, the Rehabilitation unit, and a General Medicine unit. I look forward to the things that I will learn in the next few months because I truly learn something new about medical social work every day. It has been a wonderful learning experience! Oh and I even got to witness a Triple Bypass surgery with a world-renowned heart surgeon…I was actually in the OR with the team. It was AMAZING! So if you have any questions about medical social work send them to me….I will gladly share more of my experiences with you.