What qualities come to mind when you think of a social worker? Immediately words like compassionate, caring and concerned spring to mind. Other descriptors are resourceful, problem solvers and advocates, while others may immediately think counselor, clinician and caregiver. Regardless of what words come to mind, social workers share one common trait – caring for the well being of others.
March is National Social Work Month and it is very important to recognize those that choose to take on the problems of others and make them their own. The profession of modern social work started back in the 19th century as a response to helping poor and indigent immigrants that were flooding into eastern cities. The first professional social worker was hired at a hospital in Massachusetts in 1905 and redefined the way health and well-being was managed. Early on, the correlation between disease and social well-being was proven, and social workers helped to alleviate the negative outcomes of both conditions.
In 1911, there were 44 social work departments in hospitals in 14 cities. In 1912, there were 200 hospital based social work departments. In 1918, the American Association of Social Workers was created to increase the relationship between formal education and hospital-based practice.
In general, social workers:
- Help others in need to restore social functioning
- Have knowledge of human development and behavior
- Help others address their own needs through advocacy
- Help people navigate through adversity to effectively cope with stressful situations
In the Long Term Acute Care setting, social workers act on behalf of the patient to identify resources to meet their special needs. They also advocate on behalf of the patient with insurance providers securing the greatest level of coverage possible. Social workers play a role in the interdisciplinary care team usually coordinating the group’s efforts. They meet with family members to keep them completely informed about the course of treatment, available care options and work collaboratively towards discharge planning.
Social workers play a vital role in the health care setting acting as an advocate and a liaison between the patient and the rest of the care community. It takes a truly special person to choose a career in social work. There is no typical day for a health care social worker as they are asked to meet the daily unexpected demands of helping patients that are critically ill.
We’d like to recognize our social workers, Kelly Ann Cox-Montalban, M.S.W., and Miriam Rotberg, L.S.W. this month. March is the month set aside every year to celebrate the remarkable accomplishments and selfless acts performed by dynamic people like you. This month and always, we celebrate the immense contributions of our social workers! Thank you for all that you do!