Clinical social workers help individuals, families and groups increase their ability to cope with a variety of personal, interpersonal, and environmental problems. In a hospital setting these problems are often related to a patient’s illness. The social worker assists the patient and family by providing personal and financial counseling, identification and referral to appropriate community agencies and resources as well as planning for continued care needs after hospital discharge. The social worker also works with other health professionals to identify and help resolve problems. Case management is a technique used by social workers and other team members to assist individuals in planning and organizing their treatment regime and discharge from the hospital or clinic. This technique helps identify social, financial, emotional, and physical needs of the client and allows time for counseling or resource assistance before the client leaves the hospital. In some cases, the social worker contacts clients following their discharge to check their condition and to respond to any further assistance that may be needed.


High school graduation and general college preparation is needed to prepare for a college degree program in social work.

High school courses in the biological and physical sciences, social studies, foreign languages and English are recommended. A bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW), from a school accredited by the Council on Social Work Education is required to receive certification in most states. A master’s degree in Social Work (MSW) takes two years beyond the bachelor’s degree to complete and prepares graduates for supervisory or more advanced clinical responsibilities. A doctorate in social work (D.S.W. or Ph.D.) prepares you for research, teaching and administrative positions in the field of social science and related fields such as the social sciences and public health field.

In Louisiana, social workers are eligible for licensure for independent practice (B.C.S.W.) if they hold a master’s degree from a school accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, complete two years of post-master’s supervision by a licensed or certified social worker, submit recommendations, and pass the examination for licensure administered by the state Board of Certified Social Work Examiners. National certification as an Academy of Certified Social Worker (A.C.S.W.) has similar requirements.


Social work degree programs prepare students for professional practice with individuals, families, groups, and communities. Course work includes Social Work values and ethics, problem solving skills, research methodology, clinical assessment and intervention skills, community organization, social policy, and topics on cultural diversity, such as racial and gender studies. Many students specialize in health/mental health, gerontology, children and family services, administrative social work, or school social work.


he employment outlook for clinical social workers is very good. The profession is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations.

Social workers are employed in public and private hospitals, schools, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and in private practice. They are the leading providers of mental health services. Social workers also teach and conduct research at universities and research centers.


National Association of Social Workers
750 First Street, N.E.; Ste. 700
Washington, D.C. 20002
(202) 408- 8600