Professional Development and Leadership for Palliative & Hospice Social Workers: Report on the APHSW Certification Program

Since the APHSW-C Program started in 2019, approximately 500 social workers have become APHSW-C! We had an incredible start for the first exam periods. The pandemic has made things more difficult with limited test sites since last winter/spring. However, now most test sites are open and ready to provide exams.

Many SWHPN members and colleagues have reached out to ask how to best explain the certification program to their colleagues, peers, leadership. Some are asking because they are requesting their agency or hospital to pay for the application; others want to share the information with their interprofessional colleagues. We have developed some one-page information sheets you are welcome to use and share for all of these purposes, and you can find those here.

APHSW has recently developed an Employer Partnership Program with SWHPN. For hospital systems or agencies that may have multiple social workers in hospice and palliative care, this new program can provide discounts for bulk applications. Please contact us for more information about this exciting program.

It is so important that we, as social workers, take the lead in explaining the certification. Not just to other social workers, but to our colleagues in the field, nurses, doctors, students, etc. They won’t know about this new advanced certification without us. Having an evidence-based test certification is on par with the advanced practice certifications of many of our colleague nurses and physicians. Knowing the social worker has an advanced certification in hospice and palliative care can significantly impact the design of programs.

We’ve also received questions asking how the APHSW-C is different from other certifications available to social workers. NASW and AOSW both have credentialing programs that validate the year of experience, education, and license. However, there is no other evidence-based, exam certification for our specialty. The APHSW-C objectively validates our expertise and advanced skills. This scientifically designed exam adds to the professional quality of our work.

In fact, several agencies, particularly hospices, are embedding the certification as part of their clinical ladders, which is very exciting. The scope of practice for hospice and palliative care social workers is broad, yet highly skilled. Being able to practice to the top of our abilities is important not just for patients and families, but for our own leadership development and collegial relationships.

The next window to apply for your APHSW-C opens on July 1, 2021. We are hosting a live information and Q&A session with SWHPN on Wednesday, June 9, 2021 at 12:00 p.m. EDT for anyone who is interested in applying or learning more. We encourage you to bring your administrators or colleagues who have questions about the program. Register here for the live Q&A on June 9.

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