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Washington Hospital Center: Palliative Care Social Worker

If you are interested in this position, please contact Anne Kelemen ([email protected]).

FLSA: Exempt; EEO CODE: 23


The Palliative Care Social Worker serves on an interdisciplinary consulting team, which aids in the development of palliative care plans for patients and families facing serious illness and end of life in all hospital departments, including emergency services, heart and vascular, general medicine, oncology, and high-risk obstetrics. The palliative care social worker coordinates with physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, discharge planning case managers and other disciplines on primary care teams to expedite appropriate, safe and timely post-acute care plans. The palliative care social worker provides direct clinical counseling, mind-body modalities and crisis/grief interventions to patients and families. Develops in-vivo, didactic, and workshop-based educational opportunities to promote the adoption of primary palliative practice by clinicians across the hospital network and in the broader health care field. Leads medical teams in complex case consultations and actively participates in the orientation, training/development and education of professional staff. This position includes meeting the needs of and providing services to diverse patient populations.


  1. Conducts comprehensive psychosocial assessments to identify personal, family, community and environmental strengths and barriers to coping with illness, understanding of medical information, acceptance of medical recommendations and participation in care planning. Assesses psychosocial facilitators and barriers to safe and timely discharge. Develops intervention plans based on assessment findings.
  2. Uses clinical expertise as a mental health provider to engage in interdisciplinary management and coordination of care, and to assist primary teams with safe discharge planning. Works with primary teams to identify opportunities for appropriate post-acute care that decreases unnecessary readmissions.
  3. Participates in unit- and program-based rounds to integrate palliative care recommendations and practice as part of a comprehensive treatment and discharge planning.
  4. Documents all assessments, recommendations and clinical discharge planning activities in WHC electronic medical records systems in accordance with both institutional and social work standards.
  5. Provides consultation, assessment, coordination and referral in cases of suspected or actual child or elder abuse, neglect, domestic violence and/or sexual abuse.
  6. Provides supportive counseling and other psychosocial interventions to promote patient and family adjustment to illness, catastrophic diagnoses, changes in living situations, and bereavement. Uses evidence-based practices in the delivery of social work interventions to facilitate patient and family coping, and participation in medical decision-making.
  7. Identifies health care powers of attorney to support medical decision making. Organizes and conducts family meetings to provide medical updates, convey treatment options and identify plans of care that align medical realities with patient/family preferences, values and goals. 
  8. Serves on faculty of palliative care medical fellowship program, participates in both didactic and experiential training sessions to facilitate fellow learning and preparation for board certification.
  9. Develops and manages nine-month social work training program that includes both didactic and experiential learning components. Provides weekly supervision in accordance with requirements of the Association of Social Work Boards to prepare trainees for MSW degree attainment and professional licensure exam. 
  10. Participates in hospital-based, regional and national training and education programs to expand knowledge of palliative care practice and principles, and facilitate quality improvements in care.
  11. Serves on hospital-wide patient and family advisory committees to provide palliative input to development of institutional policies and practice.
  12. Utilizes internal and community-based resources to increase patient and family access to health care services.
  13. Participates in improving health services and quality control mechanisms through close collaboration with physicians and other health team members.


EDUCATION:  Master’s Degree in Social Work is required

PRIOR EXPERIENCE:  Approximately one to two years of progressively more responsible job related experience in a health care setting.

PROBLEM SOLVING:  Job requires a high level of problem-solving due to the complexity of the situations encountered.

INTERNAL CONTACTS:  Internal contacts necessary to effectively advise, consult or counsel others to gain cooperation and acceptance of ideas or actions.

INDEPENDENT JUDGEMENT:  Work is highly interdisciplinary, requiring both independent initiative and ability to collaborate with other medical teams. Requires ability to manage consultant relationships with primary teams while advocating for patient/family needs and goals.

PATIENT CARE:  Assists with patient care by establishing and/or monitoring the techniques, policies and procedures used by those who deliver care.

RESPONSIBILITY FOR WORK OF OTHERS:  Responsible as an individual contributor but may sometimes direct one or two other employees (e.g., a secretary or an assistant).

CERTIFICATION/REGISTRATION/LICENSURE:  A District of Columbia license in Social Work is required (LICSW or LGSW).

This position reports to the Senior Palliative Care Social Worker and Section Director of Palliative Care.

The duties reflected in this description do not preclude the assignment of other duties and responsibilities.  They provide a general summary of the work required, and should not be treated as a total and complete list of expected duties to be performed by employees in the classification.

If you are interested in this position, please contact Anne Kelemen ([email protected]).