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Hospice social workers typically provide advice, counseling, and case management to dying patients in hospices. The work might also entail helping the patients' relatives find resources to pay medical bills, enabling access to supplemental support services, or helping dying patients resolve relationship issues or other end-of-life issues. To become a hospice social worker, you generally will need a college degree, post-graduate degree, and internship experience as a social worker.
It is helpful to get a college degree in social work if you want to become a hospice social worker. The degree in social work will include courses such as social work practice, human behavior, family preservation, and social welfare. Also, getting good grades in college can be essential because a high grade point average (GPA) will be something that many prospective graduate programs and employers will want to see.
Generally, it is recommended that you apply for your first social work job during the last semester of college. The purpose of this first social work job is to enable you to gain social work experience so as to improve your chances of being accepted to graduate school in social work. Typically, the career services department at your college can provide job-search assistance.
You could seek graduate social work opportunities as soon as you have completed two years of work experience. The master of social work (M.S.W.) degree is generally recommended for anyone who wants to become a hospice social worker. Also, participation in an internship in a hospice setting during graduate school can be important because it will give you specific knowledge of how to function as a hospice social worker.
In addition, you must successfully gain two years of social work experience under the supervision of a licensed social worker. This supervised social work experience must occur after the M.S.W. degree. After completion of the necessary supervised experience, there is also a social worker licensure exam you must pass.
Once you have completed the M.S.W. degree and have passed the social work licensure exam, you are eligible to begin working as a social worker in hospice settings. Keep in mind, however, that this type of work is emotionally challenging. For example, if you want to become a hospice social worker, one of the things you have to do is to help dying patients plan their memorial services while they are still alive. Thus, you must have the kind of emotional strength that enables you to cope with that sort of situation on a daily basis.
If you prefer to do hospice social work for a few years and then transition into a different social work career, there are many options. For example, you could choose to become an administrator at a home care agency. By contrast, you could choose to work as a social worker in a hospital, you could go into private practice as a therapist, or you could go back to school to get a doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) degree in social work to teach in a college.
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