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New coursework will prepare social workers for aging population

February 2, 2016 By Alissa Karnaky

The School of Social Work at the University of Wisconsin–Madison will offer new graduate options to prepare social workers to meet the unique needs of aging adults and their families.

The coursework will be offered in fall 2016 through the part-time Master of Social Work (MSW) Program, a time-extended option that holds classes on Saturdays in Eau Claire and Madison.

Betty Kramer

Betty Kramer

Mechele Pitt

Mechele Pitt

The curriculum changes are designed to meet the rapidly increasing need for social workers in medical and geriatric social work. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates 19 percent growth in the field of health care social work from 2014 to 2022, and the population of aging adults in the U.S. is anticipated to double over the next 25 years.

“Those who specialize in social work with older adults will have exciting opportunities to contribute to and shape essential practice, policy and service delivery issues that will be at the forefront in our society over the next half-century,” says part-time MSW Program director and gerontologist Betty Kramer.

In Wisconsin, rural counties are currently facing some of the highest numbers of aging adults, with many northern and western areas reaching a density of more than 20 percent of citizens at age 65 or older, according to Eau Claire County’s Plan on Aging.

“There is a desperate need for professionals who specialize in aging and health in Eau Claire and the western region of the state,” says Mechele Pitt, the program’s Eau Claire site director. “The Part-Time MSW Program is well-placed to help train the next generation of social workers to support the quality of life and well-being of Wisconsin’s aging adults.”

The program currently serves 275 students in Eau Claire and Madison and is accepting applications for the 2016-17 academic year at both program sites.