Medical Social Work

David Esquith

TELL US ABOUT YOUR WORK---WHAT DO YOU DO? I manage the daily operation of a section of the Department of Case Management . There are 35 clinical social workers (all master's level) who provide psychosocial support and discharge planning services to patients being cared for in a large, urban medical center. A portion of this responsibility includes providing direct supervision to, approximately, one-third of the staff. Additionally, planning and goal setting are key job components. WHAT SKILLS ARE NEEDED? Both a supervisory and managerial background with experience in and knowledge of acute care (hospital) are critical. An understanding of physical and emotional aspects of illness is important. The ability to coordinate staffing and develop an organizational plan for ensuring appropriate and adequate services is necessary. WHAT WAS YOU MAJOR? My undergraduate major was social work (B.A.) followed by a master's degree in social work and a second master's degree in public administration . HOW DID YOU GET STARTED IN YOUR CAREER? My interest in health care came as a student through one of my internships. This developed into a desire to pursue social work in a health care setting. WHAT EXPERIENCE DO YOU NEED IN THIS JOB? In addition to the skills identified above, it is important to have progressively responsible experience in an acute care hospital . This would progress from providing direct patient care, to assuming limited supervisory and coordinative responsibilities with the gradual promotion to more responsibility in a more supervisory and, eventually, managerial role. DESCRIBE YOUR "TYPICAL" WORKDAY: A "typical" workday does not truly exist. A day involves meetings within the Department (e.g., supervision of staff, planning staffing needs, addressing budgetary concerns, coordinating coverage, etc.) as well as interacting with other departments within the setting. Additionally, my role also addresses "problem-solving" for all the staff to ensure that the most creative and effective plans are developed and implemented for patients. WHAT IS THE HARDEST ASPECT OF YOUR JOB? Ensuring that the Department and its staff are able to meet the ongoing and unique needs of the patients and their families. WHAT IS THE MOST REWARDING ASPECT OF YOUR JOB? Being able to work with an interesting and creative array of social workers who allow me to stretch myself professionally in working with them. Additionally, the ability to work with an array of professionals in a variety of disciplines. WHAT ARE YOUR SUGGESTIONS FOR SOMEONE CONSIDERING THIS FIELD? To be committed to working in the rapidly changing health care field. To be comfortable with a constantly evolving environment . To enjoy working under pressure (e.g., time constraints). To enjoy working with people .