Gerontological Competencies among MSW Students: Evaluation of a Gerontology Specialization Program

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The purpose of this study was to conduct a preliminary evaluation of a gerontology specialization program (GSP) within a Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)-accredited master of social work (MSW) program. This study utilized a pretest/posttest design with a three-group comparison: group 1-GSP students; group 2-students from the group 1 program but not in GSP; and group 3-students at two external MSW programs with no GSPs. The overall sample comprised 220 advanced year students. A CSWE Gero-Ed Center/Hartford Partnership empirical measure was used to assess overall, gero social work practice competency. Within-group analyses revealed a significant increase in gero competency scores from pretest to posttest among all groups, with GSP students showing the largest increase. Between-group analysis at pretest revealed that the GSP group showed lower gero competency scores than both non-GSP groups. At posttest, these results overturned: GSP students scored significantly higher gero competency scores than both non-GSP groups. These preliminary findings suggest that the GSP offers an impactful, positive role in development of practice skills for the next generation of gero social work practitioners and scholars. A follow-up study with additional years of data will increase longitudinal rigor and confidence in the long-range efficacy of this GSP.

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Journal of gerontological social work

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