Plenary Keynote Talks

SWHPN is pleased to announce the full line-up of plenary keynote talks taking place during this year's General Assembly! Over the two days of the conference, you'll have the opportunity to hear from leaders in pediatrics, pain management policy, self-care and community-based palliative care - there is truly something for everyone! 

MONDAY, MARCH 12  //  8:30am - 9:30am

Playing in the Sandbox: Understanding Pediatric Palliative Care Issues 

Kicking off the 2018 General Assembly is a panel of experts from pediatric palliative care social work, discussing the challenges they have faced, obstacles they have overcome, and ways to inspire the next generation of social workers! 


  • Barbara L. Jones, PhD, MSW, FNAPAssociate Dean for Health Affairs,  University Distinguished Teaching Professor, University of Texas at Austin
  • Stacy Remke, MSW, University of Minnesota
  • Susan Cadell, Professor, University of Waterloo
  • Marsha Joselow, LICSW, MSW, Boston Children's Hospital


MONDAY, MARCH 12  //  12:15pm - 1:00pm

New Evidence Informed Intervention Approaches for Social Workers Responding to Natural Disasters and Other Mass Casualty Events

‚ÄčAfter natural disasters and mass traumatic events with numerous casualties, social workers are often called upon to provide secondary traumatic counseling to first responders, grieving families, and communities.  Emerging research on acute care, intermediate, and longer term treatment suggests ways to differentiate interventions in these situations from generalized trauma informed care. ‚ÄčThese intervention approaches include a focus on issues of meaning and spirituality, moral injury, changing social, cultural, and gender boundaries and community building. Intervention goals include developing self reliance and self efficacy through providing opportunities to engage deep and authentic social connections and supports.


  • April Naturale, PhD, MSW


MONDAY, MARCH 12  //  4:00pm - 5:00pm

Lessons Learned in Developing and Implementing Home-Based Palliative Care

An insurance company, palliative care organization, university research center, and health policy center walk into a bar...  and developed an innovative partnership to bridge the gap in helping seriously ill patients and their families access truly interdisciplinary care! Come learn how these organizations came together to design, implement, and evaluate an evidence-based Home-based Palliative Care (HBPC) program that originally launched within an Accountable Care Organization (ACO). With a $5 million research grant from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, they are enrolling more than 1,000 patients and their caregivers from numerous sites across California. They'll share their process of identifying and implementing a HBPC model, engaging key stakeholders, and lessons learned from this process.


  • Susan Enguidanos, PhD, MPH, University of Southern California
  • Torrie Fields, MPH, Blue Shield of California
  • Mollie Gurian, Director Of Health Policy And Strategy, Healthsperien
  • Helene Starks, PhD MPH, University of Washington

TUESDAY, MARCH 13, 2018 // 8:30am - 9:30am

Pain Control Policy and Palliative Care: Ensuring Access to Pain Care for Those in Need 

Almost every day, there is public policy or media debate on how to best address the epidemic of opioid abuse and its impact on communities large and small.  Individuals and families are impacted by opioids obtained illegally and through legal prescriptions to alleviate painful conditions.  Most policy “solutions” lead towards increasing restrictions on prescriptions, but calls for greater opportunities for drug treatment have been insufficiently funded and recent data shows that the opioid crisis is now being driven by illicit drugs, not prescription opioids.  How will this “crisis” impact the ability of those with legitimate need for pain management to obtain the care they rightly need?  What are the best approaches for advocates of hospice and palliative care?

This plenary session will promote an understanding of the medical issues and confusing terminology that frame discussions around pain, policy, stigma, abuse, and treatment.  Practice guidelines and government interventions– such as those of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – will be considered.  Through a case discussion, our panelists – leaders in pain management, policy, and advocacy – will consider the medical, psychosocial, policy, and advocacy components of the opioid debate.  They will seek to balance the need to address the harms presented by opioids with assuring access to care among those with legitimate need for pain management, including patients facing terminal illness and those with long-term serious, chronic conditions.  Recommendations will be made for a more thoughtful approach by the palliative care community.


  • Gary L. Stein, JD, MSW, Yeshiva University , Vice-Chair of Social Work Hospice & Palliative Care Network
  • Myra J. Christopher, LHD (Hon), Director, PAINS Project
  • Daniel B. Carr, MD, MA, Tufts University School of Medicine
  • Cindy Steinberg, National Director of Policy and Advocacy, U.S. Pain Foundation


TUESDAY, MARCH 13, 2018 // 3:00pm - 4:00pm

Courageous Leadership: Social Workers as Champions in Palliative Care 

To close out the 6th Annual General Assembly, we will have Susan Blacker and Susan Hedlund lead a lively conversation on how social workers learn to lead change and advocacy efforts in palliative care. Through sharing and reflecting on their personal experiences, they have - often unexpectedly! - found themselves in a range of situations that have called for unique skills and approaches to leadership in health care, they will provide participants with insights, ideas about leadership, and favorite resources to help in efforts to advocate for social work and palliative care.  


  • Susan Hedlund, LCSW, Oregon Health & Sciences Institute
  • Susan Blacker, MSW, RSW, 

 Don't delay - be sure to register for the conference today!