• Adjunct Associate Professor, School Of Medicine-Operations
  • Associate Professor (Lecturer), College Of Social Work

Current Courses

Fall 2024

  • SW 6040-004
    Location: SW 255 (SW 255)
  • SW 6201-001
    Health Practice I
    Location: SW 301 (SW 301)
  • SW 6750-001
    Aging Practice I
    Location: SW 301 (SW 301)

Spring 2024

Entrepreneurial Experience

  • PAMS Incorporated. 11/01/2012 - present. Employees: 2.
    Comments: I am the Vice President of PAMS Inc, a technology transfer company. Our initial product is a versatile app that can guide the care process for individuals with concerned about memory and the development of dementia.

Professional Organizations

  • The Social Work Hospice and Palliative Care Network. 03/15/2022 - 12/31/2022. Position : Member.
  • Gerontological Society of America. 01/01/2022 - 12/31/2022. Position : Member.
  • SAGE . 02/01/2016 - present. Position : Board Member.
  • Social Work Leaders in Health Care. 09/01/2015 - present. Position : Board Member.
  • University of Utah Center on Aging. 09/01/2006 - present. Position : Member.
  • Gerontological Society of America. 08/01/2006 - present. Position : Member.
  • NASW. 01/02/1992 - present. Position : Member.

Practice History

  • Aug 2015-July 2018 Executive Director, Goodwill Initiatives on Aging Associate Professor-Lecturer College of Social Work, University of Utah Salt Lake City, Utah . 08/01/2015 - present .
  • Aug 2013-July 2015 College of Social Work, University of Utah Salt Lake City, Utah Assistant Professor-Lecturer . 08/01/2013 - present .
  • Sept 2006-Present University of Utah, Center for Alzheimer’s Care, Imaging and Research Salt Lake City, Utah Dementia Specialist, Licensed Clinical Social Work . 08/30/2006 - present .
  • Feb 2005-July 2016 Aetna Behavioral Health Sandy, Utah Senior Care Manager . 02/01/2005 - present .
  • Aug 1998-July 2001 University of Utah, Student Counseling Center Salt Lake City, Utah Clinical Social Worker . 07/01/1998 - present .
  • July 1995-Jan 2008 Designated Examiner State of Utah Salt Lake City, Utah . 07/01/1995 - present .
  • Sept 1991-Oct 1997 United Behavioral Health Salt Lake City, Utah Provider Relations and Clinician . 09/01/1991 - present .
  • Jan 1991-Aug 2006 University Healthcare Salt Lake City, Utah Emergency Room Crisis Worker . 01/01/1991 - present .
  • May 1989- Oct 1990 Aspen Crest Hospital Pocatello, Idaho Adolescent Program Director and Clinician . 05/02/1989 - present .

Teaching Philosophy

I believe that the most important ingredient in an effective learning environment is to create a safe and personable classroom experience.  While this should “go without saying”, it is often difficult to accomplish.  Students need to know that their views will be respected and their participation in the classroom contributes greatly to the overall success of a learning experience.  I have found that the use of humor is an effective way to create a warm and personable classroom experience.  As you can see from my teaching evaluations I have been able to repeatedly, successfully create this teaching environment.  Social work’s primary tenet is to see the value, worth and uniqueness of all individuals, this practice begins in the classroom.    

Social work is the study of human interactions and the complications that occur therein.  There are innumerous lenses through which to examine the human condition.  Literature, poetry and film are a few examples of resources that I frequently use in a classroom setting to help illustrate a point.  Teaching about a specific human condition or mental health issue is greatly illuminated when a well-crafted piece of literature or a clip from a film can be used to create vivid imagery.  Care must be taken not to sensationalize issues that are sensitive; however, there are many resources available that aid in teaching fairly complicated and nuanced conditions.  Finally, I think that it is critical to address the core class materials.  Frequently, assigned class readings are never addressed or processed.  Students quickly realize that if the readings are not discussed they must not be particularly relevant.    

In my 5 years of teaching at the University of Utah, I have routinely taught 3 credit hour courses once a week.  Three hour courses require an instructor to use multiple teaching modalities.  Studies indicate that college student’s attention begin to fade after about 15-20 minutes.  In order to be effective for a 180 minute time block it is critical to mix up teaching methods frequently.  Alternating between periods of lecture and interactive activities is critical.  One example from my HBSE courses that was very successful was to have the students present a selected diagnosis from the DSM-IV-TR, which required the creation and presentation of a PowerPoint presentation using multimedia.  I would then add nuanced details about the diagnostic category to enhance the presentation.        

In my lengthy academic experience, I have sat through courses in which it was clear that the instructor lacked passion for the topic.  Thankfully this has been a rare experience.  In counterpoint, I have witnessed instructors who were clearly committed to, and passionate about, the course topic and materials.  In a social policy course, my instructor would arrive for a 3 hour class with little written material and she would teach us for 3 hours with a depth of knowledge and enthusiasm that was quite inspiring.  I seek to instill a passion for the subject matter and for the core social work values of the worth of the individual in all classes that I teach. 

Social work is an applied practice.  If an instructor has never practiced in the content area they are teaching, the discussions can lack the breadth and depth necessary to illustrate complicated subject matter and difficult clinical scenarios.  I worked for 15 years in an emergency room setting, evaluating individuals with the gamut of mental health conditions.  I have also worked as an outpatient clinician in a variety of settings and am currently working in a neurology clinic with a deeply developed expertise on chronic and progressive health and neurological conditions.  The wealth of experiences I have gained over twenty years of clinical practice is invaluable in the classroom.   

Social work students are often placed into concurrent practicum placements which begin within a few weeks of entering their program.  There is a palpable panic in the air as students seek to put clinical tools into their proverbial tool box quickly enough to be ready for next week’s clinical encounter. I find it important to respond to this need, while anchoring clinical concepts in well-founded theoretical perspectives.  An extension of this demand is for the instructor to remain current on an expanding knowledge base of evidenced based best practices.  Additionally, it is important to encourage students to trust their own interpersonal abilities and skills when working in social work settings.  I will routinely highlight the differences between becoming a good “technician” of social work practice and the need to develop intuitive abilities.     

Finally, a current learning curve and goal for the next few years is to find ways to incorporate the rapidly expanding instruments of technology.  While laptop, tablet and smart phone use in the classroom can distract from an interactive learning process, finding ways to incorporate technology into the classroom takes advantage of the fact that many within our current student cohort were raised in the digital age.

Courses I Teach

  • 6030 - HBSE I
    Lifespan development through early adolescence. Bio-psycho-social-ecological, and cultural theories and factors are examined along with micro, mezzo, and macro influences. Ethics, knowledge, values, and skills.
  • 6040 - DSM 5
    This course will review all the chapters in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), focusing particularly on those diagnoses which social workers are most likely to see. Students will be trained in the 5-Axis system utilized in the DSM IV TR, as well as the new DSM 5 diagnostic system. This course will also explore the political and social contexts of the DSM. The course will discuss the roots of diagnoses, as well as risk and protective factors for each. Using case material during class sessions, students will be given hands-on experience with diagnosing. Students will leave the course with a solid understanding of DSM diagnoses and the ability to diagnose clients.
  • 6201 - Advanced Practice Health
    This 3-credit practice course builds on first year HBSE content, and explores the person in environment from a bio-psycho-social perspective across the life span as one encounters challenges to one's physical health. Knowledge of specific major health/illness issues will be presented from acute, chronic, and terminal condition perspectives. The accompanying psycho-social impact of these conditions on individual and family systems will be discussed within a framework of cultural and ethnic diversity. The realities of SW practice in interdisciplinary health care settings (hospital, rehab, long-term care, home health/hospice and community-based care) will be explored, as will the impact of public health policy (Medicare, Medicaid, managed care) on social work practice and the role of prevention in health care. Social work values and ethics (e.g., confidentiality, self-determination, locus of responsibility) and their application to practice in health settings will also be addressed.
  • 6312 - HBSE II
    Lifespan development from middle childhood through late life. Bio-psycho-social-ecological, and cultural theories and factors are examined along with micro, mezzo, and macro influences. Ethics, knowledge, values, and skills.
  • 6402 - Mental Health Practice II
    In this course, students will learn to assess the common “mental disorders” of adult and aging populations from an ecological (ecobiopsychosocialspiritual) perspective and to select intervention strategies that differentially fit the needs identified in those assessments. Clients will be viewed as typically having multiple-issue challenges (e.g., in mental health, employment, physical health, substance abuse, marriage, legal, etc.) that are best approached by multi-disciplinary teams of professionals and other community members. Students will learn to develop and utilize their conscious-use-of-self in establishing effective helping relationships. Students will also learn to apply the principles of mental health, diversity, and the strength-based perspective when practicing in various inpatient and outpatient settings. Skills and theory in engagement, intervention, assessment, and evaluation taught in 1st year MSW practice will be strengthened through adult/aging mental health case examples across the individual, family, and community practice modes. A social work, strength-based approach will be used in understanding and applying material from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
  • 6623 - Crisis Intervention
    A crisis is defined as an event that exceeds and overwhelms an individual’s coping skills to the point where equilibrium is disrupted. Crises can act as a catalyst for growth or change. The critical events which lead to a crisis can vary greatly and are unfortunately quite common. Critical events can occur on a micro, (e.g. death of a loved one, loss of employment, end of a relationship), mezzo, (e.g. natural disasters, tornadoes, floods, school shootings) and macro, (e.g. events on 9/11, wars, global warming) level. This course is designed to prepare students to address the sequel from these events by developing the assessment, diagnostic and evidenced based interventions to assist those in critical need.
  • 6751 - Aging Practice II
    With the extended lifespan nearly half of all older adults live with a chronic condition and a third live with 3 or more. Developing new evidence-based models of management of chronic conditions is critical as the over 65 age group expands rapidly. This 1 credit advanced-level practice course focuses on the principles involved in the assessment and treatment of older adults with chronic conditions (e.g., diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular disease). Based on a range of theories and empirical research, it also addresses the biological, psychological, and social etiology of chronic health conditions in older adults in relation to race, ethnicity, class, gender, age, and sexual orientation.
  • 6754 - Aging Seminar
    This course serves as an educational springboard for students in understanding the complexities of the aging experience across multiple disciplines and specialties and for acquiring the tools for the necessary integration and synthesis of scholarly perspectives that intersect the field of aging.

Teaching Projects

  • IPE. Project Lead: Tim Farrell. Collaborators: Marilyn Luptak. 09/01/2016 - present.