Opportunities in Aging
West Virginia is aging.  With the second largest population of older persons in the nation, the Mountain State’s older residents face unique challenges in older adulthood, including poverty, obesity, and disability as well as limited access to medical and social services.  Given this challenge, the Division of Social Work at West Virginia University is committed to providing quality educational experiences to students in preparing them to work effectively with the growing number of older West Virginians and their families.
Opportunities in Aging
Division of Social Work          West Virginia University
The Summer Institute on Aging is perhaps the most established educational opportunity in aging in the state.  The four-day conference is held at West Virginia University each summer and is designed to provide high quality training in aging services for beginning and experienced social workers, nurses, counselors, supervisors, administrators, and professionals in related disciplines.  The conference is offered as part of a unique three-credit course for Bachelor and Master of Social Work students and provides exposure to the current issues in work with older adults and an opportunity to learn side by side with professionals in the field.  Other aging electives available through the Division of Social Work include social work in aging and health care and social work in end of life care.  
The Certificate affords students in social work and related disciplines an opportunity to explore the basic biological, psychological, and sociological processes of aging, the effects on needs and experiences of older people, and the impact of social policies related to human aging.  An understanding of the unique problems and needs of older adults in Appalachia and other rural areas is emphasized.
The WVU Division of Social Work is a participant in the Hartford Partnership Program for Aging Education through a grant from the John A. Hartford Foundation.  This program offers Master of Social Work students the opportunity to engage in customized rotational field placements and specialized coursework and seminars that build competencies and leadership skills in geriatric social work in small towns and rural areas.  In addition to this excellent training students will receive a monthly stipend during their advanced field placement and a tuition waiver for an elective in aging.  The Division also offers Bachelor and Master-level field experiences in several agencies committed to serving older West Virginians and their families, including placements in hospitals, hospice, mental health centers, senior centers, skilled nursing and independent living facilities.
Curriculum Development and Experiential Learning in Aging
The WVU Division of Social Work is a participant in the Curriculum Development Institute (CDI) and the BSW Experiential Learning (BEL) programs, both funded by the John A. Hartford Foundation.  The CDI project seeks to infuse geriatric content and competencies into Foundation MSW courses in order to ensure that all graduates have foundation competencies to work effectively with older adults and their families.  The BEL project provides experiential learning in aging for BSW students.  
Sigma Phi Omega is the National Honor Society formed in 1980 to recognize the excellence of those who study gerontology/aging, as well as of the professional aging service personnel.  WVU has a chapter and membership is open to undergraduate and graduate students.
To learn more about the exciting opportunities in aging at West Virginia University, please contact
Dr. Kristina Hash at (304) 293-3501, x3119 or kmhash@mail.wvu.edu.