What is an Ambulatory Care Social Worker?

ambulatory-care-social-workerSocial workers provide assistance to those in need, but an ambulatory care social worker may provide an additional level of assistance. Most social workers work in medical facilities and for different government agencies. They help patients get financial assistance from the government, arrange for job training and employment help and assist in other ways. Ambulatory care workers often work in medical facilities that target a specific group of people. Those interested in earning a social worker degree should decide whether ambulatory care is the right field for them.

Duties of an Ambulatory Social Worker

Ambulatory care patients refer to those patients who cannot take care of themselves on their own. This might include an older person recovering from a stroke, a younger child dealing with a life-threatening disease or a child diagnosed with cancer. They ensure that patients understand the disease and how it might affect their lives, but they may also help patients learn more about various treatment options and decide on which of those options is right for them. Social workers also help patients get the care they need at home through the use of in-home nurses or home health care workers. Other tasks associated with the job include helping patients find support and recovery groups and helping those patients apply for government programs that may assist them financially.

Where They Work

Ambulatory care workers often work in medical facilities dedicated to the treatment of specific diseases and conditions. You'll often find these men and women working in pediatric hospitals. This lets them help both new patients and their families. They also work in cancer treatment centers and centers devoted to different types of life-threatening diseases. You may also find some social workers working in traditional hospitals. Hospitals and clinics need trained workers who can talk effectively with patients and provide different types of support when needed.

How to Become One

To become an ambulatory care social worker, you need a Bachelor's of Social Work and a Master's of Social Work. An MSW is a two-year program that you complete after finishing your undergraduate degree. Most programs require that students complete a supervised internship working with patients before graduating. After receiving your degree, you need to continue your training. Most states ask that you have a minimum of 2,000 or 3,000 hours of real life experience before obtaining a license. Some positions may also require that you have an RN license or some medical experience before seeking employment.

Average Social Worker Salaries and Job Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for all social workers is $44,200, which is slightly more than $21 an hour. Those who work in hospitals and dedicated treatment centers often make more than those work in ambulatory care centers do. The BLS also reports that the job outlook for social workers is high and that the field will add an extra 114,100 new jobs by 2022, which indicates a 19 percent growth.

Related Resource: 20 High-value BSW Degrees in Metro Areas with Top Salaries for Social Workers 2014

Social workers help patients in a number of different ways. They might help parents learn how to better care for their children or assist a homeless individual with job training. Those working in the ambulatory care sector often work with patients after receiving diagnosis from a doctor. Working as an ambulatory care social worker is hard but many find the position rewarding.

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