Social Workers at the Heart of Case Western Reserve’s New Model of Health Education

Group of students standing in hallway talking

A paradigm shift is underway at Case Western Reserve University that will forever transform the way healthcare teams learn and work together. And social work master’s students at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences are at the heart of it.

The university is ushering in a new era of training health teams—emphasizing interprofessional education wherein CWRU students in medicine, nursing, dental medicine and social work, work and learn as teams to better understand each other’s perspectives and get to know their patients and clients holistically.

“Social workers are a crucial component in health care teams because factors such as access to health care, lifestyle, financial status and level of social support are critical determinants for health care”, says Grover C. Gilmore, PhD, the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Dean in Applied Social Sciences. “Closing the gaps associated with the social determinants of health is a primary initiative in the U.S. and around the world. Interprofessional education and practice will allow all health professions to better understand and combat the socioeconomic causes of poor health outcomes.”

Master’s-level social work students in the Mandel School’s on-campus format take part in a series of interprofessional workshops at the university’s newly dedicated Sheila and Eric Samson Pavilion, the centerpiece of a new Health Education Campus—home to Case Western Reserve and Cleveland Clinic students in medicine as well as the university’s programs in dental medicine and nursing. By participating in this coursework and related interprofessional opportunities, Mandel School social work students can earn a Certificate in Interprofessional Education, demonstrating to prospective employers their commitment and ability to function as productive members of interprofessional teams.

The idea is simple: Learning in tandem and gaining an appreciation for others’ professional perspectives. The results are revolutionary: Teams of providers who work collaboratively to improve outcomes for patients, clients and society.