The National Association of Social Workers begins its annual celebration of one of the nation’s largest professions this month. March is National Professional Social Work Month and this year’s theme, “Weaving Threads of Resilience and Advocacy,” emphasizes the value of using personal strengths and self-advocacy to manage serious life challenges.
“Social workers strive every day to help millions of people function better in their environments,” says NASW CEO Elizabeth J. Clark, PhD, ACSW, MPH. “They also work to change environments that may limit individuals, families and communities.”
At UTMB Health, professional social workers make a difference by helping patients and their families achieve improved medical, financial, and satisfaction outcomes by reducing some of the barriers that interfere with patients’ effective use of treatment.
Medical social workers also assess how well patients and families are managing their care experience, helping them to better understand their illness, work through the emotions of a diagnosis, and provide counseling about the decisions that need to be made. They intervene as necessary by helping patients and families connect to necessary resources and support in the community; providing supportive counseling, or grief counseling; or helping a patient to expand and strengthen their network of social supports.
Social workers are also essential members of interdisciplinary hospital teams, working in concert with doctors, nurses, and allied health professionals to elevate awareness of the social and emotional aspects of a patient’s illness.