What Does a Hospital/Medical Social Worker Do? LCSW & MFT Exam Prep

By Bethany Vanderbilt on November 7, 2012

Four hands holding each other in a chain

I've been sitting here trying to come up with some witty connection between today's election and our topic, but I just can't do it. So I'll just say this: if you're studying for the LCSW exam or MFT exam, hopefully today's election is either providing you with some healthy distraction from your studying, or your studying is providing you with a much-needed distraction from election coverage. We're turning our attention this week to Medical/Hospital Social Work (mental health services) -- let's check out one way this might come up on your LCSW exam or MFT exam:


A 53 year-old woman has undergone a kidney transplant and is getting ready to be discharged from the hospital. Her 64 year-old husband is in a wheel-chair; the woman's doctor recommends that she be discharged to a rehabilitation facility. The woman requests a meeting with her social worker and states emphatically that both she and her husband want her to go home. What should the social worker do NEXT?

A. Validate the woman's feelings and explore alternative placement

B. Discuss the doctor's rationale for recommending a rehabilitation facility

C. Meet with the physician and discuss the woman's discharge preference

D. Proceed with discharge plans according to the woman's wishes

Even if you never work in a hospital or medical setting, at some point in your career it's likely that you'll be part of an interdisciplinary team; it's even more likely that at some point your client will have a different opinion than one of their providers and it will be part of your job to bridge that gap and walk the line between client self-determination and client well-being. Both the LCSW exam and MFT exam will be looking for you to balance this and work within the confines of a team. In general, if you come across a question that has to do with medical or hospital social work, keep in mind that a team is in play and that decisions (or changes in decisions) need to go through the team.


The best answer to the question above is C: meet with the physician and discuss the woman's discharge preferences. Because there is a clear difference in opinion, the social worker's first course of action should be to go back to the physician to discuss the woman's preference and try to come up with a plan to move forward that respects her self-determination and ensures her well-being. A is not the best answer because it's vague and coming up with yet another alternative would probably not help the situation (don't be swayed by the word "validate" at the beginning -- this isn't always where to start!). B is not the best answer because it disregards the woman's self-determination. D is not the best answer because it may put her health at risk (if she cannot be adequately cared for at home) and it disregards the doctor's medical opinion.

Coming up next week: Administrative Social Work

Think our straightforward, sensible approach could help you PASS your social work or MFT exam? If you're preparing for a social work exam, check out our Social Work Study Materials. If you're preparing for an MFT exam, check out our MFT Study Materials. Learn more about our offerings at The Therapist Development Center.

Looking for more practice questions and some study tips? Check out our new Social Work Exam Study Guide:

Subscribe to our Newsletter and Stay Connected!


Add new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.

Plain Filter