Social Work HEALS: Social Work Healthcare Education and Leadership Scholars


The Council on Social Work Education and the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Foundation have partnered to develop and implement Social Work HEALS: Social Work Healthcare Education and Leadership Scholars. Social Work HEALS aims to develop the next generation of health-care social work leaders who will stand ready to 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.

This will be accomplished by creating a cohort of health-care social work leaders at every professional level (including BSW, MSW, and PhD/DSW students and postdoctoral graduates) together with practice, research, and policy mentors and leaders. The New York Community Trust provided the generous funding for this project.

Project Goals

  1. Attracting and educating a new generation of BSW and MSW students who receive excellent field instruction, course work, and leadership opportunities so that they are well positioned to be an integral part of the health-care delivery team.
  2. Ensuring excellence in applying culturally competent, evidence-based practice in health-care settings by providing professional development and mentorship to field instructors and creating a network that fosters effectiveness across settings.
  3. Building the next generation of social work academic and practice leaders through supporting social work doctoral students who are contributing to the knowledge base of innovative health-care delivery through their practice and policy research.

Project Activities

Social Work HEALS includes three activity frameworks:

  1. Scholarships and fellowships for baccalaureate, master's-level, and doctoral social work students
  2. Policy fellowships 
  3. Educational enhancements and strategies to promote system changes through building learning networks, leadership development, and training opportunities

HEALS Programs 

Ten social work programs or program collaboratives were selected in May 2015 through a competitive application process to serve as the hub for scholarships to support health-care education for baccalaureate and master’s social work students and field instructors. 

  1. Arizona State University
  2. Metropolitan State University of Denver
  3. Michigan State University
  4. St. Catherine University and University of St. Thomas
  5. Southern University at New Orleans
  6. University of Central Florida
  7. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  8. University of Maryland, Baltimore, and University of Maryland Baltimore County
  9. University of South Carolina
  10. University of Texas, Austin
Learn more about the 10 social work programs involved in the HEALS program here.  Four HEALS students were featured in our 2018 Social Work Month series.

Fellowship Opportunities

The HEALS doctoral and policy fellowships are administered by the NASW Foundation. The existing NASW Foundation Aron (doctoral level) and Lyons (MSW level) fellowships are also being supplemented and incorporated into the HEALS program activities. Please visit the NASW Foundation for more information.

2017–2018 Jane B. Aron Doctoral Fellow
Margaret Mary Downey, University of California, Berkeley. Dissertation: Animating the Social Determinants of Health. 
2017–2018 Social Work HEALS Doctoral Fellows
Deborah Moon, University of Kansas. Dissertation: Preventing Adverse Childhood Experiences Through Trauma-Informed Integrated Primary Care: A Realist Evaluation.
Alexandra Morshed, Washington University of St. Louis. Dissertation: Rolling Back Social Policies: Examination of Patterns and Predictors of Obesity Policy Dismantling.
Meghan Romanelli, New York University. Dissertation study looks at three interrelated studies to examine barriers to care, facilitators of treatment receipt, and the adaptive strategies and informal care networks that sexual minorities might rely on to stay healthy in lieu of service access.
Roger Wong, Washington University of St. Louis. Dissertation study explores the relationship between Alzheimer’s disease risk and engagement in three particular lifestyle behaviors: physical activity, cigarette smoking, and social contact.  What is the influence of lifestyle behaviors on the differential risk for Alzheimer’s disease between White and African American older adults?