Social Work Practice in Serious Illness Care Micro-Credential

doctor and patient with spouse at hospital.

The Social Work Practice in Serious Illness Care micro-credential consists of two-courses and a monthly non-credit classroom-to-field seminar that are designed to provide the knowledge, skills and competencies in work with people who have serious physical and mental illnesses and/or disabilities including intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDDs).

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Program Overview

Who is eligible?

Advanced Year MSW students who have an interest in developing knowledge, skills and competencies in work with people who have serious physical and mental illnesses and/or disabilities.

MSW students need to identify if they wish to pursue this micro-credential in time to line up advanced year field placement, so student interests are matched to internships with an agency that supports and participates in serious illness care. 

The Social Work Practice in Serious Illness Care micro-credential program provides a combination of academic coursework, specialized internships and experiential opportunities that are focused on the development of knowledge and skill in care for, and communication with, people who have serious illnesses (including mental and physical illnesses together with resulting disabilities) and their families.

Learners will develop knowledge about and skills for practice with people who have serious mental and/or physical illnesses, and intellectual, developmental and other disabilities across the continuum of care.

Courses and Descriptions

SW 568 Serious Illness Care (3 credits) -- typically offered in fall semester

This course focuses on problems and issues that occur on the trajectories of serious illnesses. Guided by current theories of psychosocial care and human development, the course will address serious physical and mental illnesses, with attention to multiple coexisting conditions (e.g. end stage renal disease [ESRD], cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, serious and persistent mental illness [SPMI], disabilities). Guided by a life course perspective, the curriculum will focus on serious illness care for people of all ages and ethnicities with specific attention to culturally competent care. The course will focus on the provision of care to people who are seriously ill and their families in varied practice settings (e.g. community, primary, acute, emergency and long-term care programs). The course will address policy-guided practice by considering how policies influence access to resources and services thus informing the lived experience of serious illness. The course will introduce assessment tools and evidence-based interventions (e.g. the Serious Illness Conversation Guide) for person-centered care and communication with people who have differential types of illnesses. The course will incorporate a trauma-informed and human rights perspective to social work practice with people who are seriously ill and their families.

SW 710 Loss and Grief Across the Life Course (3 credits) -- typically offered in fall and spring semester

This course will focus on the central human experiences of loss, grief and bereavement that occur across the life course. Guided examination of current theories, research and evidence based practice(s) in grief counseling will be conducted. This course will focus on building knowledge about the nature of grief, mourning and bereavement as it is influenced by age, developmental stage, gender, race, culture, ethnicity and social context. Familiarity with the various types of losses that occur in all age groups is germane to effective social work practice in all agency settings. This course is designed to provide students with greater awareness, increased knowledge and basic skills for assessing and intervening with loss and grief in micro-, mezzo- and macrosocial domains. It will incorporate a trauma-informed and human rights perspective to social work practice with people who are adapting to loss.

Where are the serious illness micro-credential internships?

  • Erie County Medical Center (Supportive and Palliative Medicine Department, Dialysis, Internal Medicine Clinic)
  • Roswell Park Cancer Institute
  • Hospice Buffalo
  • Pathways Program of Niagara Hospice
  • Hospice of Chautauqua County
  • Best Self
  • Canopy of Neighbors
  • Grassroots Gardens of WNY
  • Mercy Doula Program at People Incorporated
  • Crossroads House (a comfort house)
  • Alzheimer’s Association of WNY

Additional Requirements

  • Attend all eight classroom-to-field seminar sessions
  • Submit reflective self-evaluation

How to Enroll

SW 706 and SW 721 courses are approved for NYSED social work contact hours to renew your license registration. If you have a license in another state, check with your state regulatory board to determine if NY hours will be accepted in your state.

Use this form upon completion of a course request an NYSED social work contact hours certificate.

What is a Micro-Credential?

Smaller that a minor, a certificate or a degree program, micro-credentials allow you to meet your personalized learning needs by gaining knowledge and skills in areas that are relevant to your academic or professional goals. Micro-credentials equip you with digital badges that showcase your achievements and all it took to get there.

What is a Digital Badge?

When you complete a micro-credential program you will earn a digital badge, or a series of digital badges. A digital badge is an icon, (but it is not a static image in that is is click-able), that houses information including the issuing institution, the date earned, the criteria required to earn the badge and the evidence that shows that you have met the required criteria. Digital badges are dynamic credentials that you own, so you can decide how you want to use them. Digital badges can be put on social media sites, added as a link on your digital résumé, embedded in your e-portfolio and more!

UB digital badges are issued through the platform Acclaim. With Acclaim, you will be able to display your skills and accomplishments to employers, colleagues and peers. With questions about using Acclaim, please contact the Office of MicroCredentials: or (716) 645-1357

To learn more about micro-credentials and digital badges please visit


Questions about the Social Work Practice in Serious Illness Care micro-credential? Please contact Professor Deborah Waldrop at (716) 645-1231 or