The School of Social Work at The University of Texas at Austin is one among ten institutions across the country to receive a five-year grant from the Council in Social Work Education, the National Association of Social Workers, and the New York Community Trust to train social work students to be health care leaders.

Social work and nursing students training together at UT Austin
Social work and nursing students training together at UT Austin

Social Work HEALS (Social Work Health Care Education and Leadership Scholars) aims to develop the next generation of health-care social work leaders who will lead efforts to address system-level changes, heighten awareness of prevention and wellness, and address the issues of structural racism that are embedded in social institutions.

“We are very proud to be one among the ten programs selected nationally for this award,” said Barbara Jones, assistant dean for health affairs at the School of Social Work and principal investigator in the grant.

The grant will fund the School of Social Work’s UT HEALS program. This program, directed by clinical assistant professor Dede Sparks, will support two students in the bachelor’s program and two students in the master’s program for the next five years. Each student will commit to focused healthcare social work education, a healthcare field placement, and travel to a 1.5 day healthcare social work education and policy event in Washington, DC. In addition, the program will support UT HEALS field instructors to attend the national conference of the Society for Social Work Leadership in Healthcare, which is held annually.

“This funding allows us to deepen our already strong commitment to social work health care education, and comes just at the right time as UT Austin embarks in the creation of the new Dell Medical School,” Jones said.

The School of Social Work offers a joint social work/public health degree as well as extensive opportunities in healthcare education and field placements. Since 2007, under Jones’s leadership, the school has been at the forefront of cross campus collaborations to integrate interprofessional education for social work, medicine, nursing, and pharmacy students. The school has also received grants from CSWE and the Health Resources and Services Administration to train master’s students in integrated behavioral health.