Shaping the Future of Social Work Practice in Healthcare: Addressing COVID-19 Needs through Integrated Primary Care.

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COVID-19 has illustrated the urgency of promoting integrated healthcare as the model of the future, with social workers not only supporting the physical and mental health of providers and patients, but also leading efforts to transform systems, policies, and social work education. Primary care, where the role of social workers is continuing to grow, is a central location for integrating the treatment of medical, social, and behavioral problems. In these settings, social workers can take the lead to meet community needs, assist in public health efforts, and bolster the frontline medical workforce. The following article reflects upon what we as social workers have learned a year into the global pandemic and how we can apply this knowledge to shaping the future of social work in primary care. Authors consider how the multiple medical and psychosocial needs of patients affected by COVID-19 are addressed in primary care through three core functions of social work: providing behavioral healthcare, coordinating care, and undertaking population health-based interventions. Article ends with a discussion about how social work can respond to the urgent task of transforming health within the context of social work practice, policy, and education for the next generation of healthcare social workers.




Social Work




Department of Community Health and Health Studies

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