With a population nearing 326 million, the United States is filled with citizens in need of guidance throughout different stages of their lives. Social work professionals may be responsible for identifying citizens within different age groups that may be in need of assistance as they transition into different types of living environments, health statuses, and even financial stages. Some of the most popular fields of social work may be categorized by the age group that professionals choose to work with. One of the growing areas of social work that may interest upcoming students may be in the field of Gerontology.
What is Gerontology Social Work?
Students that become interested in this degree field should have a strong willingness to help others as they cope with their struggles, the ability to assess and determine the needs of those they serve, and the patience to work through long and drawn out application procedures that may be present when applying for services for their clients.
If you are the type of person that enjoys working with the aging population, this could be a great specialization to pursue. Professionals in this field can work hard to change the quality of life for people in higher age groups, as well as those that cannot make financial decisions without assistance from social work professionals. Our team has over a decade of experience in researching social work degrees. The information that has been gained through researching Gerontology degree programs in social work is listed within this guide for you to review. See if this degree program could be the right fit for your future.
Online Gerontology Social Work Programs
In the last decade, college education has underwent a dramatic change from what it was in early years. Technology has provided a forum for advancement for colleges that may be interested in making their programs available to students all over the country. These online degree programs can be a great way for students to engage in college courses without having to commit to several hours of instruction in a classroom each day. Online education programs can provide students with a high-quality program instructed by the same professors responsible for traditional programming.
In Gerontology degree programs, students may have the opportunity to engage in thorough research projects or social reviews of the aging population. In online programs, students can review their assignment instructions, due dates, and resources through a helpful online classroom that can meet the needs of students while enrolled in the course. Students can contact their instructor, watch virtual lectures, and even complete tests through tools in their online courses. This option can be great for students with busy work schedules or dense personal responsibilities. Take a minute to review some of the current CSWE-accredited degree programs offered online below.
Several Online BSW and MSW Programs:
- Briar Cliff University: Online Bachelors in Social Work – Online Full-Time and Part-Time Options Available
- The University of Cincinnati: Online Bachelors in Social Work – Online Full-Time Program Available
- Case Western Reserve University: Online Masters in Social Work – Online Full-Time, Part-Time, and Advanced Standing Options Available
Related Program Areas of Interest
While Gerontology is quite specific on its own, degree programs in social work related to providing care and support to the aging population can be found under different subjects and titles. Each degree program can focus on Gerontological research, case management for the aging population, and even healthcare services for people within this age group. Your interests and talents can help drive you into the right specialization for your degree program. Our team has provided a few different specialization options for Gerontology degree program in the list below for your information.
- Aging Population Care
- Adult Social Work
- Rehabilitative Care
Bachelor of Gerontology Social Work
The first step towards a career in social work focusing on Gerontology can be enrolling in a relevant bachelors degree program. Most students may choose to pursue a Bachelors in Social Work as a foundation for later learning, but there are options for students that complete bachelors level programs in other disciplines. If you are just starting out and know that this is the field for you – we recommend starting with your BSW. The BSW can assist you in learning all of the foundation elements necessary for social work professionals working in the field of Gerontology.
Through bachelors learning, students can study related subjects such as psychology, sociology, and even some subjects related to the U.S. Healthcare System. Each of these topics can help introduce you to the types of developmental issues, services, and supports relevant to the aging population. In the field of social work, bachelors earners can also pursue licensure, which would be a great way for you to gain relevant experience prior to enrolling in a masters degree of your choice. CSWE-accredited bachelors programs can be found all over the country. If you would like to see a few examples of what types programs are available, keep reading beneath this section.
A few online BSW programs
- The University of Nebraska at Kearney: Online Bachelors in Social Work – Online Full-time and Part-Time Options Available
- The University of Arkansas at Little Rock: Online Bachelors in Social Work – Online Part-Time Program Available
Master of Gerontology Social Work
The masters-level may be the most preferred educational level for professionals interested in working in specialty fields in social work. One reason for this may be because students can have the option to pursue a degree specialization at this level more frequently. As an example, a student entering into an online Masters in Social Work can choose to focus on Aging Population Health throughout their degree program in order to learn more about the age group they plan to work with.
Masters degree programs in Gerontology can educate students on topics relevant to the health-related care, social functioning, and services geared towards the aging population. Most masters-level programs in the field of social work may also contain some leadership-oriented courses that can help you with learning how to manage a large team of social work professionals. This blend of knowledge can be great for students that may have combined goals of helping the people within the aging population and obtaining management positions in their future.
A few online MSW programs
- Boise State University: Online Masters in Social Work – Individual Practice – Online Full-Time, Part-Time, and Advanced Standing Options Available
- Florida State University: Online Masters in Social Work – Clinical Social Work – Online Part-Time and Advanced Standing Options Available
Typical MSW Gerontology Curriculum
Before you choose a degree program, you should research further into the program’s curriculum and what it can teach you about your field specifically. The courses that may be included within the online masters program can consist of ideas that are concerned with the services and supports that can be provided to the aging population by the state or community, healthcare and retirement services that may be involved in providing care to clients, and laws and regulations specific to working in this specific degree area. If you would like to read more about some of the courses involved in this program, take a look below at some of the courses pulled by our educational experts during their research.
Gerontology and the Field of Aging
The field of gerontology can be an interesting field for social work professionals to pursue. This course may act as an introductory course in aging care and gerontology, providing insight into common issues within this population, services, and policies in place to protect clients. Students taking this course can learn to identify needs within their clients, assist them in applying for services, and oversee their service progress for accuracy. This course may also include communication component to be used with clients, families, and providers.
The U.S. Healthcare Systems
Working with clients in older age may warrant the need to learn more about the U.S. Healthcare System and its policies. Since social workers in this domain may assist clients with arranging services related to their health, this course focuses on educating providers with information pertaining to current healthcare practices, insurance coverage for the aging population, and negotiation for necessary services. Students may also learn about the historical foundation of these systems and how they have evolved over time.
Human Behavior and the Social Environment – Adulthood to Old Age
How people interact with their environment can be an important factor to consider when developing treatment or service plans. This course may help students focus on behavior and social interaction of adults nearing old age. The ability to travel, health issues, and social change may be some issues of discussion in this course, as well as social displacement and comfort. Students enrolled in this course may have the opportunity to engage in independent projects about social change relevant to the aging population.
An Overview of Gerontology Social Work as a Career
Social work is a field that is focused on connecting people with the support that they need to live happy and productive lives. This field can result in careers that contact and organize services from a wide range of providers in an effort to help each and every client receive the help they deserve. In the Gerontology specialization, professionals can focus their efforts on a specific population. This can help to enhance a professional’s knowledge on services specific to their specialization area, as well as make them aware of common challenges or hurdles that may be present in this field. In the list below, you can review some of the common duties expected of professionals in this field. See if these responsibilities are relatable to what you wish to achieve by becoming a professional in this field.
- Partnerships with Retirement Homes and Rehabilitation Centers
- Assisting Clients with Medical Decision Making
- Advocating for Client Need
- Working with Client Families on Treatment Plans
- Assessing Client Need through File Review
- Arranging Client Services and Residential Services
Types of Gerontology Social Work Jobs
Do you already know what type of job you would like to have after graduating and receiving your license? Some students may make it to this point with clear expectations of their future, while others may still be undecided about the specific job title they would like to have after completing all of the educational steps required. Students that focus on Gerontology throughout their degree program can possibly pursue positions in the healthcare field, rehabilitation facilities, or even retirement homes after becoming licensed.
Each of these facilities may employ social work professionals to assist with making important life decisions for their clients, organizing regular healthcare or rehabilitation services, and even working with families to ensure that their loved ones are taken care of. Graduates that are interested in improving social systems for the aging population may even have the option of pursuing research-driven opportunities at the state and national level. Read through the common career options below to see if any of these might be of interest to you.
Licensed Clinical Social Worker
Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW) are clinical professionals that complete additional training and certification after the acquisition of their masters degree. These professionals can provide treatment and counseling services to people in the aging population as they work through feelings of regret or grief in the later years of their life. Primary responsibilities of professionals in this area of expertise may include patient assessment, treatment planning, and regular contacts with their clients.
Gerontological Social Worker
Often employed by retirement homes, gerontological social workers can be helping hands to residents of long-term living facilities. In this position, you could be responsible for organizing services for your clients, working with families to determine life planning services, and ensuring that patients are receiving a high quality of care within their environment.
Social Work – Rehabilitation Services
Clients that may be dealing with and managing long-term illnesses or injuries associated with aging may require assistance from social workers that specialize in rehabilitative services. These professionals can work with clients to determine the proper course of action for recovery, follow-up care, and long-term planning. Social workers in this field may work for private organizations or partner with state agencies responsible for care of the aging population.