Public Health for Social Workers: Helping People & Communities

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A public health social worker helps people and communities to deal with health related problems in their lives and communities. Some of the common roles of the public health social worker include:

  • Identify people in the community who have issues with health

  • Assess the health needs of clients

  • Health clients work with government authorities to improve their access to needed health care

  • Evaluate the health care services they receive to ensure all needs are met

Social workers in public health basically help to ensure that people in at risk communities are getting the access to healthcare that they need. This helps them to be able to live healthier lives and ensure healthier lives for their children. In turn, this can reduce the health care costs in many communities.

Where They Work

Social workers in public health can work in many areas, mostly in:

  • Hospitals and health clinics

  • Community mental health facilities

  • State and local government public health departments

  • Colleges and universities

  • Child welfare agencies

Some public health social workers also work for international organizations that work in developing countries.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that social workers work in these areas:

  • State and local government – 41%

  • Health care and social assistance – 36%

  • Educational services – 15%

  • Civic and professional organizations – 5%

Career Opportunities

The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that job demand in this field will increase by 19% by 2022, which is faster than average for other professions. Employment growth largely is going to be increasing in health care and social services. BLS also reports that healthcare social workers will see an increase in demand of 27% by 2022, which is a very high rate of growth. Many of those workers will likely work in  public health capacity.

Case Study

One exciting option for public health social workers in the US is to work in the Commissioned Corps of the US Public Health Service. Health services officers can work in many interesting areas, including public health and social work, and also in environmental work related to public health. People interested in social work and public health can work in the Corps as public health education and administration officers. These professionals are able to provide public health expertise to communities all over the globe.

Salary

BLS reports that social workers earn a median salary of $44,200 per year.

Additional Resources

Videos

Public Health Social Work: Working in the World

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