Social Worker and RN


Hi Everyone,

I am completing my masters in social work and am have applied to accelerated nursing BSN programs for 2013. Does anyone know if there is a way to combine the two degrees? I know in hospitals many times RN's are case managers and oversee the social work department. Any information is appreciated.

Specializes in Critical Care, Education. Has 35 years experience.

You are correct - Case Management in acute care facilities is overwhelmingly managed by RNs... certified in Case Management. I realize that the acute care model of CM is different than the SW model. In the former, it is focused on ensuring effective use of clinical resources to produce high quality outcomes. CMs have to have in-depth knowledge not only of all of the billing codes/DRGs but also of the 'disease/illness trajectory' and medical management, so a clinical background is pretty much essential to the role. Social workers still have an essential role in acute care, particularly in the discharge planning process.

Your background in SW, combined with a nursing degree, will make you uniquely qualified to move into Case Management if that is where you wish to go. But that is the only way that I know of to 'combine' the degrees.


510 Posts

I have an MSW and an LCSW license and was a social worker for many years, including several years in hospital social work. I'm now in an accelerated BSN program and will (with any luck) graduate next year.

In talking to people about this same question as I prepared to change careers, the two options that generally come up are 1) hospital case management, if you're interested in that (as you know it's very different from what social workers mean by 'case management' - it's more along the lines of 'utilization management'/insurance authorization stuff), and 2) working in psych.

I've never seen a posting or heard of a situation where a job requires both degrees, but if you had a clinical focus in your MSW you will have much more psych training than the average new RN. If you had a community/outreach/organizing focus in your MSW, you will know a lot about how community resources work. That's not to say you'd get paid more or hired differently, but the knowledge would be useful. I'm also finding that the nursing model for assessment, and their version of intervention plans ('nursing care plans') are very similar to what's taught in social work programs. So you'll have a head start in your Foundations course.


3 Posts

I have an BSN and MSW. I worked as a trauma nurse and while doing that, found that I had a lot of interest in how the families were coping, and how to support them. Someone recommended going to get an MSW which I did. I then worked for 4 years as a discharge planner in a hospital in NYC with Vascular Surgeons and then Rehabilitation. It was a good job, I enjoyed it. Because of the big commute, I took another job closer to home as a discharge planning nurse (very similar role) , and it was one of my happiest times working. I was able to combine my background in nursing and my concern for how people would manage at home after discharge. You work very closely with the family. There were many situations where I literally had to walk the family through moving their loved one to a first floor apartment because they wouldn't be safe or able to live in a 6 floor walkup anymore. People need and appreciated that support very much. In the emergency room, you get all sorts of interesting situations. Frequent visitors to the ER with Asthma tended to have mental health concerns and I would recommend a psych consult. You see elderly patients who are neglected and abused and advocating for them is very rewarding. I did this in both roles. I also think an ideal job would be to work as a social worker/nurse in a family practice or internal medicine office because people often need services that will help improve their quality of life and the docs just don't have the knowledge focus or time to do this. The combination of these two degrees and the knowledge in mental health has also allowed me to contribute in very meaningful ways to my family, my church, and the community.

Now, I am getting a little older, and my interests have moved toward global development. I have always loved cultures, people, and languages and now putting all of it together and am starting a foundation to bring support and self-sustainability to children in an African orphanage. The nursing background helped me evaluate nutritional, health, etc needs, and my social work background gives me knowledge of foundations, grantwriting, fundraising, etc. I will need to take more course to improve those skills but I have been very blessed to have both backgrounds.

My point is that nursing is a journey. Find what is important to you and move in that direction. That is what you will be best and happiest doing! Good luck!


2 Posts


I loved reading about how your career/vocation has been developing and shaped by your interests and passion.

Thank you for your post.