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What are some career opportunities for a human service professional who works with the elderly and in healthcare/hospice? What traits do you think are important for someone who chooses to work in these settings?

Oct 29th, 2014

What are some career opportunities for a human service professional who works with the elderly and in healthcare/hospice? What traits do you think are important for someone who chooses to work in these settings?

Health Care

Social workers are important members of the healthcare teams in hospitals, clinics, and other medical facilities. They work together with doctors, nurses, administrators, and other professionals to help patients and their families cope with chronic or terminal illnesses. They assess a patient's needs for medical, and/or emotional treatment, as well as rehabilitation. Social workers help facilitate discharge and provision of supportive services for post-hospitalization by providing patients and the family caregivers with information and referral. 

In health settings, social workers also provide case management and often help to organize support groups for families and patients suffering from AIDS, cancer, asthma, substance abuse, chronic illnesses of aging, disabilities, and organ transplants.  They develop new programs, lead support and educational groups, manage social work departments, network with community resources, and serve as a resource on managed-care plans.

Social workers are often hired by agencies that provide hospice care. The hospice movement is increasingly popular in this country. The goal of these agencies is to assist the dying to have optimal quality of life during their final months. Social workers employed by hospices provide counseling to these patients and their families, helping them adjust to the inevitable stressors presented by the dying process. The mission of hospice, which is to help patients take charge of their lives and make their own decisions during this critical period, coincides with the social work mission of helping people help themselves.


  • Acute Care and Rehabilitation Hospitals
  • Rural Health and Specialty Clinics
  • Hospice and Home Health Agencies
  • Nursing Homes
  • Health Care Organizations (such as the American Lung Association)
  • Public Health Departments

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´╗┐Mental Health

Clinical social workers provide more than half of the counseling and therapy services in the United States. As mental health providers they help clients with mental, emotional, alcohol or drug abuse problems through individual and group therapy, outreach and crisis intervention, and, in many cases, serve as agency directors and administrators. 

Social workers in mental health settings provide services for persons who are unable to deal with day-to-day stress due to depression, emotional distress, mental disorders, or mental retardation.  They also assist in planning for supportive services and activities within the community.  Entry level positions include case managers, day treatment facilitators, and residential technicians. Advanced-level positions require a Masters in Social Work degree (MSW).


  • Psychiatric Hospitals
  • Family Service Agencies
  • Residential Treatment Centers
  • Sheltered Work Settings
  • Community Mental Health Centers
  • Employee Assistance Programs
  • Schools
  • Substance Abuse Treatment Programs

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