Direct Practice in Health

What is the Direct Practice in Health Specialty?

The Direct Practice in Health specialty provides advanced social work students with information, skills, and expertise relevant to social work practice in healthcare settings. Students specializing in Health focus on working with individuals and families facing acute, chronic, and terminal health conditions. Students learn how to help patients, families, and caregivers understand illness and various treatment options, intervene in crisis situations, and serve as patient advocates. In addition, students focus on promoting health and wellness at the individual and community levels. The Direct Practice in Health specialty is offered at the Arlington campus with most courses offered only in-person.

What do Health Students Learn?

Students graduating from the Direct Practice in Health specialty facilitate change for individuals and families within a medical setting. They partner with individuals, families, other healthcare professionals and communities to improve lives by:

  • Intervening in health crisis situations that affect individuals, families, and caregivers
  • Advocating to end disparities in health care access and quality
  • Facilitating medical decision making with patients and families
  • Promoting health, wellness, and disease prevention at the individual and community levels 

What to Know

If you are interested in joining the Direct Practice in Health specialty, here are a few quick things to keep in mind:

  • Students can only start in the Fall Semester
  • Most of the required courses are offered In-Person Only 

Do you have questions about registering for Direct Practice in Health courses? Admitted and current students can schedule an appointment with their Academic Advisor today!

Find My Advisor
My time as a health-focused MSW student successfully prepared me for a rewarding career where I get to work with talented and dedicated professionals in an interdisciplinary team in a healthcare setting. Our focus is to create the best outcomes for our patients and their families. I am able to make a difference in their lives because my education helped give me the tools I needed to succeed.

Samuel Choi, LMSW

Health Coursework

The basis for all Health coursework is an emphasis on patient-centered clinical skills, health policy knowledge, and interdisciplinary collaboration. Students will engage with demanding content as they advance through a series of mandatory courses, subsequently diversifying their learning experience by selecting from a variety of electives to enhance their understanding and proficiency in specific practice-oriented subjects.
A doctor with a stethoscope around her neck speaking with a patient.

Students are Required to Complete

  • Two Introductory Practice Courses
  • Two Integrated Theory and Practice Courses
  • Two+ Elective Courses
  • One Specialty Policy Course
  • One Research Course
  • One Capstone Course (Unless Thesis Option is Selected)
  • Advanced Field Placement

View The Full Curriculum

Educational Objectives of Health

By graduation, students specializing in Health will achieve the foundation objectives and the following advanced specialization objectives:

  • Develop a comprehensive understanding of acute, chronic, and terminal conditions in diverse populations.
  • Cultivate skills in assessment, crisis intervention, and patient advocacy.
  • Advance knowledge in health promotion, social determinants of health, and disease prevention at individual and community levels.
  • Enhance abilities to assist patients and caregivers with medical decision-making and care planning with interdisciplinary teams.
  • Gain proficiency in integrating social work perspectives in healthcare policy.
  • Strengthen competencies in addressing mental health as a crucial aspect of overall well-being.
  • Equip students with practical application of classroom knowledge to real-world health settings.

What are the types of Internship and Job Opportunities in Health?

Health students successfully find a variety of field placement and post-graduation jobs. Many of our students are placed in leading organizations for their internship and find job opportunities at the same organization directly after graduation. These organizations run from local to national, government to nonprofit, and much more.

  • Hospital & Medical Centers
  • Outpatient Centers
  • Hospice Centers
  • Rehabilitation Facilities
  • Home Health Agencies
Learn About Field

Meet the Health Specialization Faculty

Philip Baiden, PhD

Associate Professor

Personal Pronouns: He/Him

Philip Baiden

Research Interests: Suicide Prevention Research; Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs); Adolescent Substance Use Behaviors; Social Determinants of Health and Mental Health; Barriers to Health Service Utilization; International Social Work Research

Michael Bennett, PhD, MSW

Adjunct Assistant Professor

Personal Pronouns: He/Him

Michael Bennett

Research Interests: Lived experience of tension, Live music performance in hospice-based settings, Sex and intimacy at end-of-life, Bucket lists and end-of-life dreams, Psilocybin and existential distress

Karen Magruder, LCSW-S

Assistant Professor of Practice

Karen Magruder

Research Interests: Aging, mental health, health promotion, long-term care, hospice, dementia, sustainability, environmental justice

Diane Mitschke, PhD, MSW

Associate Dean of Academic & Student Affairs

Associate Professor

Personal Pronouns: She/Her

Diane Mitschke

Research Interests: Health and Mental Health of Vulnerable Populations; Refugee and Immigrant Health and wellness

Marcela Nava, PhD, MPP, MSSW

Assistant Professor

Marcela Nava

Research Interests:: Health Equity, Community Based Participatory Research, Immigration, Policy Advocacy

Tracy Orwig, MSSW, LCSW, FNAP

Associate Professor of Practice

Personal Pronouns: She/Her

Tracy Orwig

Research Interests: Health Interventions, Health Disparities, Health Literacy and the Impact of Interprofessional Education on Health Students

Vijayan Pillai, PhD


Research Interests: Adolescent social problems , Reproductive health , National and International social policy, Population, Community Planning, Demographic Techniques, Zambia, Social Policy, Reproductive rights, Development

Regina T. Praetorius, PhD, LMSW-AP

Director of Graduate Programs


Personal Pronouns: She/Her

Regina Praetorius

Research Interests: Trauma, Suicide, Maternal Well-being, Suicide Bereavement, Qualitative Interpretive Meta-Synthesis (QIMS), and Social Work Education

Jessica Sánchez, PhD, LMSW, MED

Assistant Professor of Practice

Personal Pronouns: She/Her

 Jessica Sánchez

Research Interests: Sexual subjectivity, Latinas, and Women of Color and Pleasure after Violence

Donna Schuman, PhD, LCSW, MAC, LPC

Assistant Professor

Donna Schuman

Research Interests: Military social work; psychosocial and psychophysiological effects of war trauma and disaster; digital health interventions; heart rate variability biofeedback; social work education; systematic review methodology

Eusebius Small, PhD

Associate Professor

Eusebius Small

Research Interests: International Social Work, The Intersection of HIV and Contextual Social Norms, Adolescent Risk Behaviors, Comparative Social Policy

Allison Tomlinson, PhD, LCSW-S

Director of Undergraduate Programs

Assistant Professor of Practice

Allison Tomlinson

Research Interests: Maternal incarceration, stress theory and non-normative family stress, couple and marriage dynamics in African American families, and mental health.

Traneika Turner-Wentt, DSW, MSW

Assistant Professor of Practice

Traneika Wentt

Research Interests: Health Equity, Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, Social Drivers of Health, Healthcare System Solutions

Rachel Voth Schrag, PhD, LCSW

Associate Professor

Personal Pronouns: She/Her

IPVE Taskforce Development Subcommittee Chair

Rachel Voth Schrag

Research Interests: Violence Against Women, Trauma and Mental Health, Convergence of Poverty and Interpersonal Trauma, Violence Against Women in Diverse Educational Settings; Interpersonal Violence Prevention and Intervention


Brianna Gibbs
Academic Recruiter
Primarily Graduate Admissions

Office:  SWSH 203O

Dolores Bevins
Admissions Counselor II
Phone: 817-272-1044
Office:  SWSH 203Q

Darlene Santee
Manager for Recruiting and Admissions
Office:  SWSH 203U

Antwan C. Williams, J.D.
Asst. Director of Communications, Marketing, Recruiting, Admissions,
and Community Outreach

Office:  SWSH 203S