Eastern Kentucky University

Poster Title

The Multi-dimensional Nature of the Spiritual Development of Social Work Students Working with Dying Clients

Institution

Eastern Kentucky University

Abstract

Social workers have been described as the hub of interdisciplinary efforts to provide comprehensive medical support services to dying clients (Blackman, 1995). In fact, social workers are the only healthcare professionals that focus solely on the psychosocial aspects of death and dying (Sheldon, 1993; Loscalzo & Zabora, 1996). Yet, social workers rarely receive formalized death education. Many students reported (Huff, Weisenfluh, & Murphy, 2002) that they would not undertake a field experience involving dying clients even with increased amounts of content based education because of their perception that spiritual changes within their own developing professional identities would overwhelm them. The goal of this project is to develop and implement a social work field curriculum designed to better prepare undergraduate social work students that are working with dying clients while in their perspective field experiences. The curriculum will be based on focus group data and the results of the Daily Spiritual Experience Scale for 350 social work students that are participating in field experiences across the Commonwealth. The curriculum will be implemented in third and fourth year social work internship classes during the 2004-2005 academic year.

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The Multi-dimensional Nature of the Spiritual Development of Social Work Students Working with Dying Clients

Social workers have been described as the hub of interdisciplinary efforts to provide comprehensive medical support services to dying clients (Blackman, 1995). In fact, social workers are the only healthcare professionals that focus solely on the psychosocial aspects of death and dying (Sheldon, 1993; Loscalzo & Zabora, 1996). Yet, social workers rarely receive formalized death education. Many students reported (Huff, Weisenfluh, & Murphy, 2002) that they would not undertake a field experience involving dying clients even with increased amounts of content based education because of their perception that spiritual changes within their own developing professional identities would overwhelm them. The goal of this project is to develop and implement a social work field curriculum designed to better prepare undergraduate social work students that are working with dying clients while in their perspective field experiences. The curriculum will be based on focus group data and the results of the Daily Spiritual Experience Scale for 350 social work students that are participating in field experiences across the Commonwealth. The curriculum will be implemented in third and fourth year social work internship classes during the 2004-2005 academic year.