In response to this shortage, the John A. Hartford Foundation provided funding to the Social Work Leadership Institute (SWLI) at The New York Academy of Medicine. (NYAM) to develop and implement the Hartford Partnership Program for Aging Education (HPPAE)which is providing training to over 2,500 geriatric social work students. The initiative began in 2000 with implementation at 6 demonstration sites. The program was broadened in 2005, covering an additional 56 graduate schools of social work. As part of the project's multi-site evaluation, a career tracking survey was completed by HPPAE graduates in 2006 and again in 2008-2009, providing insights into the program's impact on career preparation and post-graduation career interests.
Methods: Six months post-graduation from the HPPAE, students are sent repeated email requests encouraging them to complete an online career tracking survey which includes questions on: interest in aging focused careers; the impact of the HPPAE program on career preparation; current employment data; and suggestions for program improvement. Standard analysis techniques were used to analyze survey responses.
Results: To date, 90 HPPAE graduates have completed the career tracking survey. The sample was overwhelmingly female (96%), Caucasian (89%), and employed (80%). The majority of respondents had a micro-focus during their MSW studies. Most (82%) agreed that the HPPAE was important in preparing them for careers in aging and that participation in the HPPAE increased their interest in working with older adults. Seventy percent stated a current preference for working in an aging-related field. Over three-quarters, or approximately 8 in 10 respondents have a current job in gerontological or aging-related social work.
Conclusion and implications: Although our sample is still relatively small, the data indicate that participation in the HPPAE increases student interest in aging and facilitates placement in aging-focused positions. These results suggest that the HPPAE program could have a significant impact on increasing the number of MSW students pursuing aging-related careers. Confirmatory and supplementary analyses will be conducted when a larger sample of respondents is available to better understand the implications of participation in the HPPAE for the gerontological social work workforce.