Medical Social Work

Topics: Social work, Sociology, Patient Pages: 4 (1470 words) Published: February 27, 2007
Medical Social Work
Through reading the text book and listening to the information given by the speaker in class, it has become very clear that social workers play a significant role in the medical field. Specifically, social work is of particular importance when working with families where a serious illness has occurred. While the speaker, Jamie, spoke mostly about intervening with families in which the serious illness directly affected a child, the text book gave other examples that also help to illustrate the role of social work in a medical setting. Generally speaking, the text defines social work in health care as "a collaboration with medicine and with public health programs…it intervenes with medicine and related professions in the study, diagnosis, and treatment of illness at the point where social, psychological, and environmental forces impinge on role effectiveness". As the speaker put it, social workers do "everything that is not medical". While doctors may define illness objectively as a malfunction of the body, social workers understand illness to be the outcome of not only biological but also social, cultural, economic, and psychological issues which "impair role functioning". Any number of problems may cause an individual, member of a family, or member of a community to not wholly fulfill their social role. When this occurs in conjunction with a medical disease, social workers must work with healthcare professionals to treat not only the physical ailment but the psychosocial problems that result from it. For example, if a child becomes sick with leukemia he is no longer able to fulfill his role as a student since he has to be in the hospital for treatment and he can not completely fulfill his role as a sibling because his weakened condition might not allow him to interact with his brothers and sisters the way he normally would. Additionally, his parents are no longer able to fulfill their roles as workers because so much of their time...
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