Patricia J. Volland, MSW, MBA

Changing the Way Social Workers are Trained

Ms. Volland has had a profound influence on the Hartford Foundation’s support of social workers in aging care. She currently serves as director of the Social Work Leadership Institute at the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College in New York.

Ms. Volland is also project leader for the Hartford Partnership Program for Aging Education (HPPAE), and for the Leadership Academy in Aging for Deans and Directors of Schools of Social Work (LAA). These two programs have helped train educators and students in scores of social work programs across the country and influenced many deans and directors to develop programs on aging.

(Left) Patricia J. Volland, MSW, MBA, Hunter College, New York.
(Right) The Practicum Partnership Program offers rotational field training for social work masters’ students. Pamela Davis, LCSW, and client Anna Matthews at Partners in Care Foundation of Los Angeles, CA.

HPPAE evolved from a practicum model Ms. Volland had first conceived in 1998 during a meeting at the New York Academy of Medicine, where she served as Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration. “I was sitting in a conference room talking with three prominent physicians about how difficult it was to access the health care system, even for us professionals, let alone older adults, and they suggested social worker coordinators might help.”

Ms. Volland took the ball and ran with it. With help from friend and colleague Barbara J. Berkman, DSW/PhD, a prominent scholar in social work at Columbia University, she secured a grant to convene a group of social work leaders who could identify barriers to recruiting people into the aging field. “We developed the idea that we would work with social workers in hospital field units to establish a model of field education that would facilitate rotation among the various services for broader exposure. That was partly funded by the Samuels Foundation.”

Staff at the Hartford Foundation learned of her work and approached her about taking her workforce development program to scale. Ms. Volland worked closely with her partners at the Foundation to design, implement, and disseminate the program.

Early in the initiative, Ms. Volland and Foundation staff traveled the country to do site visits for what was initially called the Practicum Partnership Program for a multi-site demonstration of rotational experiences, enhanced aging curriculum, support for field faculty, and student stipends.

From that project she went on to garner support from The Atlantic Philanthropies for a foresighted initiative that anticipated the current work in Medicaid waivers and integrated health plans aimed at putting educational and competency requirements in place for geriatric care clinicians doing social work in the emerging field of care coordination.

Most recently, in 2012, the HPPAE program began working with the VA to spread the
model throughout the system, while simultaneously institutionalizing the program with the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). (Partnering for Better Care for Our Older Veterans).

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