Developing geriatric social work competencies for field education

J Gerontol Soc Work. 2006;48(1-2):139-60. doi: 10.1300/J083v48n01_10.


Preparing social workers to effectively practice with the growing older population requires the identification of geriatric competencies for the profession. The John A. Hartford Geriatric Social Work Initiative provided the impetus and direction for a national strategy to improve the quality of preparation of geriatric social workers. The Geriatric Social Work Practicum Partnership Program (PPP) is the project with the Hartford Initiative that emphasizes field education. The Geriatric Social Work Education Consortium (GSWEC), one of the PPP programs, initiated the development of competencies for work with older adults. GSWEC utilized Geriatric Social Work White Papers and the pioneering work of the Council on Social Work Education's (CSWE) Strengthening Aging and Gerontology Education for Social Work's (SAGE-SW) comprehensive competency list as well as conducted focus groups locally to delineate key competencies for field education. The Coordinating Center for the PPP, located at the New York Academy of Medicine, led in collaboratively developing knowledge based skill competencies for geriatric social work across all 6 demonstration sites (11 universities). The competencies adopted across sites include skills in the following five major domains: values and ethics; assessment (individuals and families, aging services, programs and policies); practice and interventions (theory and knowledge in practice, individual and family, aging services, programs and practice) interdisciplinary collaboration; and evaluation and research. The identified competencies have proven effective in evaluating students (n = 190) pre- and post PPP field education. The implications for further development of competency driven education for geriatric social work are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Clinical Clerkship
  • Competency-Based Education
  • Curriculum*
  • Geriatrics / education*
  • Humans
  • Professional Competence*
  • Schools, Health Occupations
  • Social Work / education*
  • United States