Geriatric Social Work Shortage Addressed By Hartford Foundation Awards

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The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) has received a five year, $5 million renewal grant from the John A. Hartford Foundation of New York, NY to provide financial and career support for 39 doctoral fellows in geriatric social work and awards for 60 pre-dissertation doctoral students. This grant seeks to address the next decade’s projected shortage of over 46,000 geriatric social workers — by supporting future aging-focused faculty who will advance the practice of geriatric social work through research and ensure that an increased number of social work students receive appropriate training to work with older persons.

The Hartford Doctoral Fellows project was first funded in 2000 and to date has supported 69 doctoral fellows and 60 pre-dissertation students. The new award brings the total investment in this project from the John A Hartford Foundation to $12.5 million. Thus, the Hartford Doctoral Fellows program has become the largest private source of funding for social work doctoral education in the United States.

The Hartford Doctoral Fellows program provides $50,000 dissertation research grants over a two year period, enabling doctoral students to focus on producing high quality dissertation research. Additionally, the program provides extensive academic career development and leadership training for a select group of promising doctoral students. Hartford Doctoral Fellows attend annual meetings of GSA, the Society for Social Work and Research and the Council of Social Work Education, where special pre-conference workshops are offered.

The Pre-Dissertation Award component provides travel grants to encourage doctoral students early in their studies to consider conducting dissertation research in the growing field of aging. The Pre-Dissertation Awardees are funded to attend the GSA annual meeting for two years, where special pre-conference workshops are offered.

GSA administers the Hartford Doctoral Fellows program. James Lubben, the Louise McMahon Ahearn University Professor at Boston College, is the principal investigator and national director.

“Today’s doctoral students are tomorrow’s faculty and this program cultivates the next generation of faculty who will become teachers, role models, and mentors for future generations of social workers caring for older persons and their families,” says Lubben.

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