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The Learning Conference 2003

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Presentation Details


Attracting Students Into Gerontological Social Work Careers

Allan V. Kaufman, Dr Jordan I. Kosberg.

Demographic projections indicating a rapidly increasing aging population in the United States have raised significant concerns regarding current and future shortages of gerontological social workers, especially in view of a serious recent decline in student interest in aging and the shortcomings of recent organizational initiatives to increase the future supply of gerontological social workers.

This paper will discuss problems inherent in recruiting students into gerontological social work including: (1) age prejudice (ageism); (2) the belief that working with the elderly is less financially rewarding than working with other population groups; (3) a shortage of social work faculty with backgrounds in gerontology; (4) the failure of the organization that accredits social work education programs to mandate specific courses or course content in aging; (5) the biomedicalization of gerontological social work; and (6), social work education’s failure to address the special needs of elderly persons resulting from their race, ethnicity, social class, gender, sexual orientation, and geographical location.

The following strategies for enhancing gerontological social work education will also be discussed: (1) providing academic leadership that recognizes the aging demographic imperative; (2) modifying curricula to ensure the availability of both elective and required courses/course content in aging; (3) advocating for registration caps in master’s level social work specializations; (4) advocating for the development of educational standards mandating the inclusion of course content in gerontological social work; (5) hiring faculty whose primary area of interest is in gerontological social work; (6) creating stipends to attract social work students to gerontological course work and specializations in aging; and (7), coalition-building between social work programs and gerontology programs in other disciplines.


Allan V. Kaufman  (United States)
School of Social Work
The University of Alabama

Dr Jordan I. Kosberg  (United States)
Endowed Chair
Social Work
University of Alabama

Jordan I. Kosberg, Ph.D., ACSW, is the University of Alabama Endowed Chair of Social Work and Chair of the Ph.D. Program. He holds a Ph.D. degree from The University of Chicago and B.S. and M.S.S.W. degrees from The University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. He is editor or co-editor of six books, and author or co- author of 25 book chapters and over 100 journal articles.

  • Aging
  • Gerontological Social Workers
  • Older Persons

(30 min Conference Paper, English)