Social workers, trained to be leaders in the field of aging, are key professionals in the service delivery system, assisting older adults to navigate challenges to their health and well-being.
Many studies have established that a shortage of professional social workers exists, especially social workers that possess expertise in aging. Other studies have documented the need for social work degree programs to train social workers for careers in aging and to engage the interest of social work students to specialize in working with older adults.
GSWEC’s mission is to prepare social workers with skills to fill this need by providing direct services, developing programs, and providing policy solutions.
Internships with participating Field Agencies not only provide students a taste of what it is like to work in the field of geriatric social work, but it also provides valuable experience for a resume that can be a crucial advantage when competing for a desired position after graduation.
Each school has its own unique intern intake process. However, the following generally describes how the application and selection process unfolds:
- It begins by talking to a GSWEC Representative
Students who are considering internship options discuss the program with a GSWEC liaison at their university.
- GSWEC Information Sessions
Most participating universities hold information sessions in late fall or early winter prior to the application deadline so students can learn more about the program and the application process.
- Initial Application
Students who wish to participate in a GSWEC internship must submit an application to their university. Each university has their own deadline, so be sure to check with your liaison early.
- GSWEC Agency Open House
In early spring, the GSWEC Field Agencies host an event for students who have applied. Each agency pitches the unique experiences and opportunities offered at their organization, giving students the information necessary to understand which agencies are the best fit for them.
- Agency Interviews
Students reach out to the GSWEC representatives at their chosen Field Agencies and request an interview.
- Student and Agency Rankings
When the interview process has concluded, students will submit their final rankings for Field Agencies to their university liaison. The field agencies review the student interviewees and create a ranked list of potential interns.
- Matching Meeting
In May, the Partner Universities and Field Agencies will convene a meeting where prospective interns are assigned to agencies based on both student and agency preferences. Limits on the number of agency placements make this a competitive process. Not every student is guaranteed an internship, but strong interviews at multiple agencies increases your chances.
- Confirmation and Onboarding
After the matching meeting, students are officially offered a GSWEC placement and the onboarding process begins. Most students begin their internships in the fall of their second year.
GSWEC offers micro, mezzo and macro placement opportunities at its twelve Geriatric Centers of Excellence agencies. Placement settings include:
- Mental Health
- vHealth Care and Health Promotion
- Geriatric Care Management
- Adult Day Health Care
- Dementia Care and Caregiver Support
- Substance Abuse Treatment
- Senior Services Administration
- Civic Engagement and Volunteerism
GSWEC developed “Geriatric Social Work Competencies” as a foundation for geriatric field placement experiences. GSWEC Field Instructors and students use the Competencies to identify the student’s learning goals, and to provide the basis for learning assignments and assessment of the student’s progress. The Competencies emphasize geriatric social work values, knowledge, and skills encompassing micro-to macro-level practice in four general areas:
- Values, Ethics and Theoretical Perspectives
- Aging Services, Programs and Policies
As part of our commitment to supporting participating 2nd year GSWEC graduate students during their highly specialized learning, all GSWEC agencies provide stipends of $4,000. Two agencies (Pacific Clinics and VA Health Systems) provide $5,000 or more. Some agencies withhold taxes, while others do not. Some pay biweekly, some at different intervals.
GSWEC placements meet the criteria for the CAL-SWEC II Mental Health stipend. If you receive the CAL-SWEC II Mental Health stipend, it will be in lieu of the GSWEC stipend.