ADVANCED CERTIFICATE IN ONCOLOGY SOCIAL WORK PRACTICE

Cancer Happens Everywhere

The Advanced Certificate in Oncology Social Work Practice is designed for current healthcare social workers to gain superior knowledge and skills for work with individuals, families, and communities impacted by cancer. Our unique hybrid online and immersion program offers a world class learning opportunity in a highly interactive, relational, and convenient format.

We combine an immersive campus weekend with interactive, online course delivery that supports learning for working professionals, wherever they live and work. Learners will travel to the University of Pennsylvania’s campus in mid-October for an intensive weekend of learning alongside peers and building relationships with nationally recognized social work leaders. Online classes using videoconferencing are then offered twice per month.

Dr. Allison Werner-Lin teaches a class

What is Oncology Social Work?

Oncology social work is a specialization within social work practice that addresses the psychosocial needs of individuals, families, and communities impacted by cancer. Emerging from a long tradition of social work in healthcare, the sub-specialty of oncology social work has flourished in the last century as biomedical advances transformed cancer from a terminal to a chronic disease. Despite these advances, a diagnosis of cancer is often emotionally and financially devastating. Through multi-systemic and holistic practice, research, education, and advocacy, social workers are integral to providing comprehensive care to people with cancer.

Program Leadership

Program Leadership

The Advanced Certificate in Oncology Social Work Practice is led by a team of nationally recognized oncology social workers and allied health and mental health professionals with expertise in cancer research, training, and practice. Each module will be led by a renowned leader who will bring their experience and knowledge to the program.

Program Director

Allison Werner-Lin
Assistant Professor at the School of Social Policy and Practice

Headshot of Allison Werner-Lin

Dr. Werner-Lin’s research addresses the intersection of genomic discovery and family life. She seeks to broaden social work’s guiding ‘person-in-environment’ framework to include genetic variation as a core feature of assessment, one in constant interaction with developmental, sociocultural, and environmental contexts. Presently, Dr. Werner-Lin’s work addressed the ethical, legal, and social implications (ELSI) of emerging genomic technologies in reproductive, pediatric, adolescent, and young adult populations with inherited cancer predisposition syndromes.

Her work is among the first to explore the psychosocial challenges unique to women and men of reproductive age who carry a genetic mutation (BRCA1/2), which exposes carriers to elevated risk of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. She holds an appointment with the Clinical Genetics Branch of the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics at the National Cancer Institute where she oversees psychosocial research addressing hereditary tumor predisposition syndromes, including Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Syndrome and Li-Fraumeni Syndrome. She is a member of the Scientific Committee governing the International Meeting on Psychosocial Aspects of Hereditary Cancer, serves on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Psychosocial Oncology, and is a Distinguished Fellow of the Society for Social Work and Research, where she serves as facilitator of the Cancer Special Interest Group, and the National Academies of Practice in Social Work.

Dr. Werner-Lin received her PhD from the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. She holds a master’s degree in clinical social work from the University of Chicago, a master’s degree in human development and psychology from the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University, and a Bachelor of Arts in family studies and psychology from Wellesley College. She has presented her research at national and international conferences. She advises learners across health and mental health disciplines, teaches qualitative health research methods for the Center for Public Health Initiatives, and was recently honored by the Council on Social Work Education for outstanding mentorship. Dr. Werner-Lin has held grants to build interdisciplinary training programs in oncology, genome-based health literacy, and health care social work practice. Dr. Werner-Lin has practiced in community-based organizations providing individual, family, and group counseling and psychotherapy to families affected by cancer, and she maintains a small private practice for bereaved children, teens, and families. She conducts workshops on direct practice with families affected by cancer and parentally bereaved children, and she provides supervision to professional groups.

Selected Publications in Oncology Care

Associate Director

Christina Bach
MBE, MSW, LCSW, OSW-C

Headshot of Christina Bach

Christina Bach, MSW, MBE, LCSW, OSW-C, FAOSW is a social work leader and the psychosocial content editor for OncoLink.org. Christina curates and maintains all patient and family education resources available on OncoLink.org and participates in interprofessional survivorship and patient education research. The Oncolink editorial team received the Cancer Patient Education Network (CPEN) award for Excellence in Patient Education at the CPEN 2018 annual conference.

Christina teaches medical ethics at the School of Social Policy and Practice, lectures nationally on bioethics, social work ethics, and moral distress, and regularly supervises MSW students. Christina currently serves as the social work consultant, facilitator, and program co-chair for the Philadelphia Multiple Myeloma Networking Group. Christina served as the Director of Education for the Association of Oncology Social Work, where she implemented AOSW’s distance learning webinar program as well as co-chaired the AOSW annual conference from 2014-2017. In 2019, Christina was named a Fellow of the Association of Oncology Social Work. Christina is the leader of the Philadelphia Social Work Oncology Group, where she also heads the annual Regional Oncology Social Work conference committee.

Christina has over 15 years of social work practice experience at Penn Medicine in both inpatient and outpatient oncology settings. Christina is also a former veterinary social worker and a seasoned animal assisted therapy worker with interests in animal assisted therapy in cancer care settings. She works regularly with her two certified therapy dogs providing support and recreation to patients, families and health care professionals.

Selected Publications in Oncology Care

Intructors

Instructors

Christina Bach, MBE, MSW, LCSW, OSW-C
University of Pennsylvania

Headshot of Christina Bach

Eucharia Borden, MSW, LCSW, OSW-C
Lankenau Medical Center

Headshot of Eucharia Borden

Penny Damaskos, PhD, LCSW, OSW-C
Memorial Sloan Kettering

Penny Damaskos

Iris Cohen Fineberg, PhD, MSW, OSW-C
Stony Brook University

Stephanie Fooks-Parker
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Headshot of Stephanie Fooks-Parker

In addition to her work in oncology, Stephanie is one of four leaders of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Youth Advisory Council and serves as chair of the Department of Patient and Family Services Communication Committee. She is also the Psychosocial Coordinator for Ronald McDonald Camp (RMC), a one-week overnight summer camp in the Poconos for oncology patients and their siblings. She has served on the American Cancer Society’s Peer Review Committee on Training Grants in Clinical Oncology Social Work. She also reviews Beyond the Cure scholarship essays annually for the National Children’s Cancer SocietyIn 2009, she was named Social Worker of the Year by Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Social Work Department. This year she was named the Association of Pediatric Oncology Social Worker of the Year.

Stephanie has been a member of the Association of Pediatric Oncology Social Workers since 1989 and served as Chair of its Conference Committee from 2004-2009. In May 2018 she became President of the Association of Pediatric Oncology Social Workers. She will remain in this role until May 2020.

Carmen E. Guerra
University of Pennsylvania

Headshot of Dr. Carmen E. Guerra

Dr. Guerra received a bachelor of arts degree in psychobiologyfrom New York University in 1989, a medical degree from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry in 1993, and a Master of Science of Clinical Epidemiology from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in 2006.

Dr. Guerra is a general internist and cancer control researcher. Her research focuses on better understanding and overcoming the barriers to accessing cancer screening tests. Dr. Guerra has numerous awards including being a fellow of the American College of Physicians and the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, an alumnus of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundations Harold Amos Faculty Development Program, a Penn Fellow and is the recipient of the 2017 American Cancer Society St. George National Award. Dr. Guerra has served as a volunteer leader on several non-profit boards including serving as the current Board Scientific Officer of the American Cancer Society Board of Directors in 2018-2019.

Barbara Jones, PhD
University of Texas, Austin

Headshot of Barbara Jones, PhD

Lauren Kriegel, BS, MSW
Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey

Headshot of Lauren Kriegel

Lauren Kriegel received a BS in Human Development and Family Studies from The University of Rhode Island and an MSW from Columbia University School of Social Work. Lauren now works as the Bone Marrow Transplant social worker in the division of hematologic malignancies at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey. In this role, Lauren provides support and counseling to patients and family members from initial diagnosis through to post-transplant life. Lauren is responsible for assessing all patients prior to transplant and providing appropriate interventions to prepare patients for the transplant process. Lauren has started a support group designed specifically for bone marrow transplant patients to address their unique needs. Additionally, Lauren has developed a survivor panel to provide education to newly diagnosed patients. Lauren is passionate about using DBT informed practice to help patients deal with disease-related anxiety.

Heather Klusaritz, PhD, MSW
University of Pennsylvania

Headshot of Heather Klusaritz

Kimarie Knowles, MSW, LCSW
Memorial Sloan Kettering

Headshot of Kimarie Knowles

Neal Niznan, MSW, LCSW
Penn Medicine

Nizan

Neal Niznan received a Master of Social Work degree from Rutgers the State University of New Jersey in 1990 and a certificate in family therapy from the Multicultural Family Institute of New Jersey in 1993. Working as a family therapist at community mental health practices, he provided psychotherapy for individuals, couples and families both in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Mr. Niznan continued his therapist role in 2000 at the Abramson Cancer Center Counseling Service at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia working with patients living with serious medical illness. During this time, he also co-facilitated cancer support groups and frequently presented at numerous site specific conferences and workshops on coping with the emotional impact of cancer. Since 2009, he has provided psychosocial support and services to oncology patients receiving radiation treatment in the Department of Radiation Oncology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and facilitates the Prostate Cancer Support Group. Mr. Niznan also maintains a private psychotherapy practice in the community.

Shirley Otis-Green, MSW, MA, ACSW, LCSW, OSW-C
Compassionate Caring

Headshot of Shirley Otis-Green

Lora Rhodes, MSW
Thomas Jefferson University

Headshot of Lora Rhodes, MSW

Allison Werner-Lin, PhD, AM, EdM, LCSW
University of Pennsylvania

Allison Werner-Lin, PhD

Allison Werner-Lin is Assistant Professor at the School of Social Policy and Practice. Her research addresses the intersection of genomic discovery and family life. Dr. Werner-Lin seeks to broaden social work’s guiding ‘person-in-environment’ framework to include genetic variation as a core feature of assessment, one in constant interaction with developmental, sociocultural, and environmental contexts. Presently, Dr. Werner-Lin’s work addressed the ethical, legal, and social implications (ELSI) of emerging genomic technologies in reproductive, pediatric, adolescent, and young adult populations. This work is funded through the National Human Genome Research Institute’s Clinical Sequencing Exploratory Research program and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Her work is among the first to explore the psychosocial challenges unique to women and men of reproductive age who carry a genetic mutation (BRCA1/2), which exposes carriers to elevated risk of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. She holds appointments with the Clinical Genetics Branch of the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics at the National Cancer Institute where she oversees psychosocial research addressing hereditary tumor predisposition syndromes, including Li-Fraumeni Syndrome. She is a member of the Scientific Committee governing the International Meeting on Psychosocial Aspects of Hereditary Cancer.

Dr. Werner-Lin partners with agencies that seeks to identify how best the rapidly evolving knowledge base of genomics may be translated into community education and outreach programs for adolescents and young adults, given the social, cognitive, and cultural contexts within which they acquire health knowledge and behaviors. She consults with the Personal Genetics Education Project (pgED.org) at Harvard Medical School to enhance and evaluate high school science curricula towards increased adolescent genomic literacy.

Dr. Werner-Lin received her PhD from the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. She holds a master’s degree in clinical social work from the University of Chicago, a master’s degree in human development and psychology from the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University, and a Bachelor of Arts in family studies and psychology from Wellesley College. She is a Fellow of the Society for Social Work and Research and a Distinguished Scholar and Fellow of the National Academies of Practice in Social Work. She has presented her research at national and international conferences. She advises learners across health and mental health disciplines, teaches qualitative health research methods for the Center for Public Health Initiatives, and was recently honored by the Council on Social Work Education for outstanding mentorship. Dr. Werner-Lin has held training grants to build interdisciplinary training programs in oncology, genome-based health literacy, and health care social work practice. Dr. Werner-Lin has practiced in community-based organizations providing individual, family, and group counseling and psychotherapy to families affected by cancer, and she maintains a small private practice for parentally bereaved children and teens. She conducts workshops on direct practice with parentally bereaved children and provides supervision to professional groups.

Brad Zebrack, PhD, MSW, MPH
University of Michigan

Headshot of Dr. Brad Zebrack

Dr. Zebrack is a long-term survivor of Hodgkin’s lymphoma, diagnosed in 1985 at the age of 25. In 1989, he and his wife Joanne completed a one-year 11,000 mile bicycle trip around the perimeter of the United States to promote cancer survivorship. Dr. Zebrack and his family, including his daughter Sierra Grace and cats Cal and Jaz, live in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Frequently Asked Questions

When do classes meet?

Online course sessions will meet virtually on Wednesday evenings twice per month. Each class session will run 7:00pm – 9:00pm Eastern Standard Time. The immersive weekend will take place over three days — Friday evening, Saturday, and Sunday morning.

I’ve been working in the field for several years. Can I benefit from this program?

Absolutely! Learning is a lifelong process. Most MSW programs do not offer oncology-specific classroom instruction, so many seasoned oncology social workers have learned on the job, at professional meetings, or in continuing education. Experiential learning is critical and so is the opportunity to learn from seasoned professionals about the state of the art in research, innovative practice, and programming, and theories of human behavior and development issues that challenge us in our work on a daily basis. This program will connect you to leaders in the field who will teach and mentor you towards elevated practice, regardless of whether you completed your MSW two years ago or ten years ago.

Where will the program take place?

We combine an immersive campus weekend with interactive, online course delivery that supports learning for working professionals, wherever they live and work. Online classes using videoconferencing are offered twice per month throughout 2020. Learners will travel to the University of Pennsylvania’s campus in mid-October. Online classes using videoconferencing are then offered twice per month from through July. You can learn from any place with internet access, including your home! In Spring 2020, learners will travel to the University of Pennsylvania’s campus for an exciting weekend intensive immersion.

I am full-time working professional, will there be homework?

Our instructors understand that participants will be working full-time. Learners are expected to complete some preparation before each monthly meeting, for example reading a few journal articles on the topic. These will be useful for applications in the workplace.

Is this program available online?

Our unique hybrid program offers learners the opportunity for in-person networking during the immersion weekend in Philadelphia. Learners will come from all over the country to join the program immersion weekend. Then online classes using videoconferencing are offered twice per month.

What about traveling to Philadelphia?

Philadelphia is an easy destination city – accessible via Amtrak and air. Many low cost AirBnB housing options are available in the nearby University City/West Philadelphia neighborhoods.

Does this program earn me the OSW-C?

This program is not affiliated with OSW-C (Oncology Social Worker, Certified) or the Board of Oncology Social Work Certification (BOSWC). However, credits earned through the ACOSW program would be eligible for application towards OSW-C renewal (as they are oncology specific). This program is not a requirement to obtain the OSW-C.

How many continuing education credits will I earn?

The University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy & Practice is a CSWE accredited school and will supply continuing education credits. We will work with other social work continuing education state boards for approval in states where participants are licensed.

Completion of the certificate program offers 60 CEU’s including 3 ethics credits.

How competitive is the application process?

Our application asks that you provide details about your academic background and your current work with a statement of support from your current supervisor. Our staff is looking to build a cohort of well qualified individuals who will be able to directly apply what is learned to their practice. Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis with each applicant considered based on the fit between the applicants learning goals and the program offering.

Is financial aid available?

Penn SP2 encourages applicants to explore opportunities for tuition remission and professional development funding from their home institutions. In facilities/agencies with clinical ladders in place for employment advancement, we anticipate this program will help participants achieve requirements to make positive advancement in their clinical ladder.

Is this a graduate credit earning program?

You will not earn Penn academic/graduate credits as part of this program.

I have additional questions. Who can I contact?

Contact Us

Allison Werner-Lin, PhD, LCSW

Program Director

sp2oncology@upenn.edu