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Frequently Asked Questions: Social Work at St. Jude

Due to the high volume of inquiries from students requesting interviews for class assignments, we are not able to provide individual responses. The following frequently asked questions may help educate students about medical social work. 

  1. Our social workers find it rewarding to build rapport and develop long-term working relationships with patients and their families and caregivers during treatment. It is empowering to help a family realize the resilience they have in coping with their child’s illness. Helping families navigate treatment as they develop and strengthen their coping skills gives us fulfillment.

  2. As in any medical setting, the possibility of losing a patient to illness is realistic and challenging due to the relationships we build over the course of a patient’s treatment. Additional challenges include dealing with chronically ill children, counseling families with unique family dynamics, handling custody issues, and finding the balance between daily meeting patient needs when an unexpected patient crisis occurs.

  3. No two days are alike in the life of a medical social worker at St. Jude, and flexibility is a must when it comes to the day-to-day schedule. Expect the unexpected. A day may consist of completing a psychosocial assessment, providing support to a patient and family, writing letters, completing financial applications, making wish referrals, attending multidisciplinary meetings to discuss patients and their needs (medical and psychosocial), and completing required documentation.

  4. A standard workday is eight hours, Monday through Friday. There are times when an emergency will require a social worker to stay late. Also, a rotating on-call social worker is available outside of normal business hours, and a weekend social worker is available during regular business hours during the weekend.

  5. Each St. Jude social worker must have Master of Social Work degree from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education and a license. Social Worker I requires an LMSW and Social Worker II requires an LCSW.

  6. If you are thinking of pursuing a career in medical social work, seek out quality learning and volunteer opportunities in the medical field or fields such as mental health and hospice. The skills learned in these professions are applicable to our day-to-day routine. These opportunities will expose you to the numerous aspects of being a medical social worker.

    It is important to have a working knowledge of family systems and varying cultural and socioeconomic circumstances. Being a medical social worker can be a challenging occupation, and it is important to start practicing good self-care while still in school to foster longevity in this profession. 

  7. St. Jude Social Work does not offer shadowing or volunteer opportunities. For hospital volunteering activities, contact Volunteer Services

  8. Yes, Social Work offers a limited number of second-year or advanced standing master’s level internships each year. We also offer one senior-year bachelor’s level internship each year. Social work internships focus on helping families cope with the diagnosis of a pediatric life-threatening disease and navigate the hospital system. Interns also prepare treatment plans, work with interdisciplinary care teams, and foster relationships with cancer survivors and the bereaved.

    St. Jude does not offer first-year master’s level social work internships.

    Learn more about St. Jude internships in social work