School of Social Work to Expand Emphasis on GerontologyAugust 7, 2009
SPRINGFIELD, Mass., Aug. 7, 2009 -- Springfield College School of Social Work has received a $10,000 grant from the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) Gero-Ed Center to introduce a gerontology area of emphasis and expand focus on gerontology in its master of social work advanced generalist program.
Responding to the announcement, Francine Vecchiolla, dean of the Springfield College School of Social Work, said, “With the aging of America, there is a growing need for social workers with expertise in the special needs of people over age 65. Our faculty is committed to taking the strong gerontology content of our master’s degree program to higher levels to equip our graduates to be leaders in a job market that increasingly requires this specialization.”
Vecchiolla said that the population of people over age 65 is projected to increase to 20 percent by 2030, but only four percent of social workers specialize in gerontology. The Springfield College School of Social Work expects to increase its graduates focusing on gerontology from 15 to 25 annually.
The school was one of 15 institutions chosen from 46 applicants to receive a grant and become a member of the CSWE’s Specialized Gerontology Program, funded by the John A. Hartford Foundation.
The new gerontology area of emphasis will launch in fall 2010. Leading the project will be Assistant Professor John Habif. The grant will support the school’s development of additional gerontology content for its academic program and expansion of its faculty expertise in geriatric social work.
The school also plans to increase its network of cooperating community agencies that provide specialized gerontology training, fieldwork and career opportunities for its students.
Students in the gerontology area of emphasis will take elective courses on subjects of social work with older adults, will have an advisor with gerontology expertise, and will be placed in fieldwork pertaining to people over age 65. They will complete a capstone assignment spanning their concentration year including a case study on older adults. They also will be encouraged to use assignments in other courses to support their gerontology focus.
The first graduates of the gerontology area of emphasis will receive their master of social work degrees in 2011. They should achieve the advanced skill level or higher on the Social Work Leadership Institute’s Practicum Partnership Program Geriatric Social Work Competency Scale II, a measure of skill competency developed with funding from the John A. Hartford Foundation.
Vecchiolla said that the area of emphasis is particularly compatible with Springfield College’s master of social work program, which prepares advanced generalists. The school already offers elective gerontology courses. Although gerontology will be the school’s first designated area of emphasis, it offers a wide variety of electives and opportunities to explore various areas of social work.
In addition to the master’s degree programs of the School of Social Work, Springfield College offers bachelor’s and master’s degree programs through its schools of: arts, sciences and professional studies; health, physical education and recreation; health sciences and rehabilitation studies; and human services. Its doctoral programs are in physical education and physical therapy.
Springfield College, accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, is ranked by “U.S.News & World Report” in the 2009 edition of “America’s Best Colleges” in the top tier of Best Universities—Master’s—North Region. It is designated as a premier Leadership Development Center by the YMCA of the USA. More than 4,700 traditional, nontraditional and international students study at its main campus in Springfield, Mass., and at its School of Human Services regional campuses located in 10 other U.S. locations.