Social Work and Health Care Initiative Launched

February 2, 2016 / By: Lauren Schaffran and Cindy Lorah
2015-16 Social Work HEALS student scholars at Policy Summit in November 2015
2015-16 Social Work HEALS Student Scholars
Excerpt from Fall 2015 Perspectives Newsletter

‌This fall, the School of Social Work launched its Social Work Health Care Education and Leadership Scholars (HEALS) grant initiative that was awarded in spring 2015. In May, the St. Kate’s – St. Thomas School of Social Work was selected as one of 10 programs nationwide – and the only private school – to receive a Social Work HEALS grant. This grant is a partnership of the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) and the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) that “aims to develop the next generation of health care social work leaders who will stand ready to lead efforts to address system-level changes, to heighten awareness of prevention and wellness and to address the issues of structural racism that are embedded in social institutions.”1

The five-year grant supports two Bachelor of Social Work students and two Master of Social Work students per year. The selected students will be awarded a tuition stipend for their participation in the program. Participation includes relevant
coursework and engagement in a variety of leadership opportunities, such as interprofessional workshops, Day at the Capitol events and with the Social Work HEALS Leadership Council. Students also receive funding to attend the Social Work HEALS policy summit in Washington, D.C. Social work students selected to participate in the program will have the opportunity to experience robust health care education and training, connect with peers, advocate for policy issues and practice as members of interprofessional health care teams.

“There are growing career opportunities for students in social work and health care settings, and this is a great way to enhance students’ learning related to that interest,” said Carey Winkler, director of BSW field education and the Social Work HEALS lead grant author. “It’s a program that does a nice job of taking a holistic, generalist perspective of looking at what needs to happen in direct care, as well as looking at policy and leadership.”

“One of the things the Social Work HEALS grant committee said they liked about our program is our Leadership Council,” said Lisa Richardson, director of MSW field education and Social Work HEALS project coordinator. “It’s an important part of the structure of the way Social Work HEALS is living at our school.” Students, their field instructors, key faculty involved in the project and community partners all form the Leadership Council. The council, led by the students, will organize a service or educational event in 2016.

An important and unique aspect of the St. Kate’s – St. Thomas Social Work HEALS Leadership Council is the involvement of student scholar/field instructor pairs. In addition to the council meetings and ongoing development efforts, two of the field instructors also were able to attend the Society for Social Work Leadership in Health Care (SSWLHC) Conference in Austin, Texas, in October.

All student scholars attended the 2015 Social Work HEALS policy summit. The summit, organized by the NASW and CSWE, took place in November in Washington, D.C. Some 40 Social Work HEALS scholars attended, representing the 10 grantee schools around the country.

The inaugural St. Kate’s – St. Thomas Social Work HEALS Leadership Council is comprised of the following student / field instructor pairs:

  • Kristina Babcock Donahue (MSW Class of 2016) and Erica Bryan-Wegner, Mayo Clinic
  • Angela Mueller (MSW Class of 2016) and Sara Lassig, VA Medical Center
  • Elizabeth Nelson (BSW Class of 2016) and Peggy Sapp, Catholic Charities Seton Services
  • Dawn Sorensen (BSW Class of 2016) and Lisa Kern, Koda Living Community

The Social Work HEALS Leadership Council faculty and staff member representatives are: Lisa Richardson, directorof MSW field education and Social Work HEALS project coordinator, Carey Winkler, director of BSW field education and Social Work HEALS lead grant author, Cindy Lorah, George Baboila, Tanya Rand, Robin Whitebird and Katie Johnson, research assistant. Chris Beamish, MSW ’06, LICSW, Fairview Counseling Centers, clinic manager, is the alumni community member.

1 Social Work HEALS Request for Applications