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Career and Education Opportunities for Medical Social Workers in Chicago, Illinois

If you want to be a medical social worker, the Chicago, Illinois area offers many opportunities both for education and employment. There are currently 3,950 working medical social workers in Illinois; this should grow by 26% to 4,970 working medical social workers in the state by 2016. This is better than the nation as a whole, where employment opportunities for medical social workers are expected to grow by about 22.4%. Medical social workers generally provide persons, families, or vulnerable populations with the psychosocial support needed to cope with chronic, acute, or terminal illnesses, such as Alzheimer's, cancer, or AIDS.

Income for medical social workers is about $22 per hour or $47,400 annually on average in Illinois. Nationally, their income is about $21 hourly or $45,650 yearly. Earnings for medical social workers are better than earnings in the general category of Social Work and Community Services in Illinois and better than general Social Work and Community Services category earnings nationally. Medical social workers work in a variety of jobs, including: hospice home care social worker, family support specialist, and director of social work.

The Chicago area is home to 180 schools of higher education, including one within twenty-five miles of Chicago where you can get a degree as a medical social worker. The most common level of education for medical social workers is a Master's degree. You can expect to spend about six years studying to be a medical social worker if you already have a high school diploma, or just 2 years if you have a Bachelor's degree.

CAREER DESCRIPTION: Medical Social Worker

Medical Social Worker video from the State of New Jersey Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development

In general, medical social workers provide persons, families, or vulnerable populations with the psychosocial support needed to cope with chronic, acute, or terminal illnesses, such as Alzheimer's, cancer, or AIDS. They also services include advising family care givers, providing patient education and counseling, and making necessary referrals for other social services.

Medical social workers advocate for clients or patients to deal with crises. They also collaborate with other professionals to review patients' medical or physical condition and to gauge client needs. Equally important, medical social workers have to refer patients or family to community resources to help in recovery from mental or physical illness and to furnish access to services such as financial assistance, legal aid, housing, job placement or education. They are often called upon to counsel clients and patients in individual and group sessions to help them overcome dependencies, recover from illness, and adjust to life. They are expected to organize support groups or counsel family members to help them in understanding and supporting the client or patient. Finally, medical social workers formulate discharge from care facility to home or other care facility.

Every day, medical social workers are expected to be able to articulate ideas and problems. They need to understand what others are saying to them even in a noisy environment. It is also important that they listen to and understand others in meetings.

It is important for medical social workers to supervise and direct other staff providing services to clients or patients. They are often called upon to design or advise on social policy and help in community development. They also formulate and conduct programs to fight social problems, avoid substance abuse, or improve community health and counseling services. They are sometimes expected to investigate child abuse or neglect cases and take authorized protective action when needed. Somewhat less frequently, medical social workers are also expected to conduct social research to advance knowledge in the social work field.

And finally, they sometimes have to design or advise on social policy and help in community development.

Like many other jobs, medical social workers must have exceptional integrity and have a strong concern for others.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in Chicago include:

  • Child and Family Services Worker. Provide social services and assistance to improve the social and psychological functioning of children and their families and to maximize the family well-being and the academic functioning of children. May assist single parents, arrange adoptions, and find foster homes for abandoned or abused children. In schools, they address such problems as teenage pregnancy, misbehavior, and truancy. May also advise teachers on how to deal with problem children.
  • Mental Health Social Worker. Assess and treat individuals with mental, emotional, or substance abuse problems, including abuse of alcohol, tobacco, and/or other drugs. Activities may include individual and group therapy, crisis intervention, and education.
  • Probation Officer. Provide social services to assist in rehabilitation of law offenders in custody or on probation or parole. Make recommendations for actions involving formulation of rehabilitation plan and treatment of offender, including conditional release and education and employment stipulations.
  • Social Services Assistant. Assist professionals from a wide variety of fields, such as psychology, rehabilitation, or social work, to provide client services, as well as support for families. May assist clients in identifying available benefits and social and community services and help clients obtain them. May assist social workers with developing, organizing, and conducting programs to prevent and resolve problems relevant to substance abuse, human relationships, or adult daycare.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Medical Social Worker Training

Institute for Clinical Social Work - Chicago, IL

Institute for Clinical Social Work, 200 N. Michigan Avenue, Suite 407, Chicago, IL 60601-5908. Institute for Clinical Social Work is a small school located in Chicago, Illinois. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs and has 92 students. Institute for Clinical Social Work has a post-master's certificate and a doctor's degree program in Clinical/Medical Social Work which graduated zero and five students respectively in 2008.


Certified In Thanatology: Certification in Thanatology (CT) is a foundation certification that enhances the professional designation established by the academic discipline of each certificate holder.

For more information, see the Association for Death Education and Counseling website.

International Board Certified Lactation Consultant: An IBCLE or International Board Certified Lactation Consultant is a specialist that has taken and.

For more information, see the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners website.

Clinical Social Worker in Gerontology: Social workers who hold the CSW-G have: NASW membership in good standing; An MSW degree from an institution accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE); Documented no less than two (2) years (equivalent of 3,000 hours) of experience working with older adults under social work supervision; Completed twenty (20) contact hours of continuing education relevant to work with older adults; Provided approved documentation of social work supervision; Provided a reference from a social work colleague; .

For more information, see the National Association of Social Workers website.

Certified Social Worker in Health Care: Health care is a dynamic field, influenced by changes in.

For more information, see the National Association of Social Workers website.



Licensing agency: Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation
Address: 320 West Washington, Springfield, IL 62786

Phone: (217) 782-8556
Website: Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation


Chicago, Illinois
Chicago, Illinois photo by Dschwen

Chicago is situated in Cook County, Illinois. It has a population of over 2,853,114, which has shrunk by 1.5% in the past ten years. The cost of living index in Chicago, 114, is well above the national average. New single-family homes in Chicago are valued at $200,500 on average, which is far less than the state average. In 2008, three hundred eighty-one new homes were built in Chicago, down from eight hundred seventy the previous year.

The three big industries for women in Chicago are health care, educational services, and professional, scientific, and technical services. For men, it is construction, professional, scientific, and technical services, and accommodation and food services. The average commute to work is about 35 minutes. More than 25.5% of Chicago residents have a bachelor's degree, which is lower than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 10.0%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Chicago is 11.6%, which is greater than Illinois's average of 10.5%.

The percentage of Chicago residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 57.6%, is more than both the national and state average. Southlawn United Methodist Church, Southern Missionary Baptist Church and Lakeside Evangelical Church are all churches located in Chicago. The most common religious groups are the Catholic Church, the Muslim Estimate and the Lutheran Church.

Chicago is home to the Five Crossings and the Wrigley Field as well as Monticello Park and Wilson Playground. Shopping centers in the area include Lincoln Village Shopping Center, Market Place at Six Corners Shopping Center and Kimbark Plaza Shopping Center. Visitors to Chicago can choose from Extended Stay America, Embassy Suites Lakefront and Cottage Inn for temporary stays in the area.