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Social Work

MD Anderson Cancer Center and the Department of Social Work are committed to offering field placement opportunities to second-year Master of Social Work students through the Social Work Internship Program. The educational goal of the program is to provide the highest quality hands-on learning experience to our students and to prepare them to enter the social work profession with confidence in their skills and knowledge.

The Role of Social Work in this Environment

All patients at MD Anderson receive medical treatment for cancer or a cancer related illness.  The mission of the Department of Social Work at MD Anderson is to enhance quality of life and facilitate care for people impacted by a diagnosis of cancer through outstanding clinical interventions, psychosocial programs, education and research.  Social Workers provide comprehensive clinical oncology social work services through counseling, crisis intervention, and linkage with resources in the hospital and the community.

The Department of Social Work has a staff of over 70 Social Work Counselors. Our Social Work Counselors are licensed Master level Social Workers and many have advanced clinical standing.

The Clara B. Smith Training Center

The Clara B. Smith Training Center was established within the Department of Social Work on September 1, 1986, in honor of Mrs. Clara Blackford Smith of Denison, Texas.  Mrs. Smith was a long time friend and benefactor of the Department, frequently contributing financial support for indigent patients and training institutes for Social Workers throughout Texas.  The grant provides funds for student stipends.  These stipends are designed for second-year Master of Social Work (MSW) or Master of Science in Social Work (MSSW) students who either are in a health care specialization or have a strong interest in health care social work.

Opportunities for Field Placement

Student pursuing the MSW degree

MD Anderson has both inpatient and outpatient settings. Opportunities for enhancing clinical, documentation, and interpersonal skills as a social work practitioner are available in both areas. MD Anderson also offers practicum opportunities in Social Work Administration. These students carry a limited clinical caseload and are involved in areas including program evaluation, policy and procedure development and review, and/or grant location and writing.  

Student Training and Support

All students are required to participate in a departmental orientation program. Students are then assigned to the service of their Field Instructor within the Department of Social Work.  Students receiving training at MD Anderson are required to be in field three days a week for two semesters for a consecutive placement or five days a week for one semester for a block placement. During their experience, students participate in an interdisciplinary team approach to care, including patient teaching, planning conferences and chart rounds with physicians, nurses and other team members.

Within the Department of Social Work, staff development presentations are offered. During their placement, students are expected to present at one staff development meeting.  Weekly brown bag presentations on various topics are offered to students. There are also opportunities to attend continuing education presentations within the institution when appropriate.

Students seeking this placement should be independent and able to function with some degree of autonomy once established within their service.  We promote the choosing of a learning experience, which would move students toward realizing their professional educational goals.

Lynsay E. Gaines, MSW, LCSW
Associate Director, Social Work
1515 Holcombe Blvd., Unit 103
Houston, TX  77030

Phone: 713-794-1385
Fax: 713-794-4478

© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center