Social Work

What is the role of a medical social worker at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital?

A medical social worker:

  • Has a master’s degree in social work;
  • Is certified/licensed to practice counseling by the state Board of Social Work;
  • Has specific expertise in helping you and your family cope with the emotional impact of living with illness; and
  • Provides education both in the community and in the hospital about the impact of illness on patients and families.

What can a medical social worker do for me?

Shortly after you arrive at St. Jude, a social worker will meet with you to help you get settled. If your child is going to receive treatment, the social worker will complete a social history that can help the Social Work staff assist you during this stressful time. The information also helps your medical team plan treatment.

The Social Work staff is here to support you and your family through counseling. This could include:

  • How to talk with your child about her illness
  • How to help brothers and sisters cope with the illness
  • How to deal with the impact of the illness on your everyday life (work, school, and family/marriage)

For patients and siblings, social workers can offer counseling or therapeutic play. They can also refer you to these services at St. Jude or in your hometown. Social workers can help you with problem-solving as you plan for your child’s discharge and return home.

Social workers have details about financial resources and community services.

Social Work also has details for patients and families about wish-granting groups. To know if your child can receive her wish from one of these groups, you must fill out a form about your child. Your child must meet the medical criteria of the group to which you apply. These criteria vary with each group. For details about the criteria and the groups that grant wishes, please speak with your social worker.

If you need help on weekends, a social worker is in the hospital from 8:30 am–5 pm. After hours, a social worker is on call for urgent needs. A housing social worker is ready to help families staying in St. Jude lodging.

Important times to talk to your social worker:

  • When you feel stressed — Coping with illness can be very stressful.  Please call your social worker for help any time you want support through counseling. If you would like counseling from a chaplain or psychologist, your social worker can arrange this for you.
  • When you have money problems — If you have financial (money) problems, please set up a time to meet with your social worker. This staff member can explore what resources are currently available that may be able to help you and your family.
  • If you must leave your child in someone else’s care for a brief time period — If you need to briefly return home, you must arrange for another family member or friend to take care of your child. You should call your social worker to help you complete a Limited Power of Attorney form. This form allows your chosen caregiver to make decisions if there is an urgent medical need while you are gone.

To find out more about Social Work or to reach the social worker assigned to your child, call 901-595-3670. If you are inside the hospital, dial 3670. If you are outside the Memphis area, call toll-free 1-866-2STJUDE (1-866-278-5833), extension 3670.