Social work professor receives education award

Jeremy Thomas

Barbara Jones, social work associate professor, was one of three people to receive the 2014 Outstanding Educational and Training Award from the American Psychosocial Oncology Society on Feb. 25, for her work with a team of oncology researchers.

The award is presented to a leader who has enhanced the field of psychosocial oncology through the education and training of new investigators. Psychosocial oncology is the science, study and practice of the psychology and social aspects of people affected by cancer.

The oncology society selected Jones and her colleagues because of their work on a program titled ExCEL in Social Work. ExCEL stands for Excellence in Cancer Education and Leadership. It is a federally funded program with the goal of improving the delivery of psychosocial care for oncology patients through intensive education of oncology social workers.

Jones said ExCEL is dedicated to raising the standards for psychosocial oncology care, and recognition of work in the field is important because there are few oncology social work researchers. 

“The award is significant because it is a national award from my peers so that means a lot,” Jones said. “It is from an interdisciplinary organization that has psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers. To have the work of a team of public researchers honored means a lot in that setting.”

Jennifer Alluisi, director educational programs for the oncology society, said through the ExCEL project, Jones and her colleagues worked to teach oncology care and be a role models and mentors to the next generation of oncology social workers.

“Dr. Jones obviously has a passion for ensuring that the psychosocial needs of those affected by cancer are met by knowledgeable, trained professionals, and she is dedicated to doing everything she can to help that happen,” Alluisi said.

Jones said in four years, ExCEL has helped train more than 400 people from across the world.

“It means a lot to me to be able to train really talented social workers,” Jones said. “We send them back to their institutions with a project and we train them in everything from family centered care to leadership skills to interprofessional collaborations. Then we mentor them and follow them throughout the year, so it is a highly hands on project.”

Arthur Schwab, associate dean for academic affairs in the school of social work, said the award brings greater public recognition to Jones, the school and the University for the work she is doing.

“I think it’s a great accomplishment for the school of social work to have one of its faculty recognized in this way,” Schwab said. “I think its real positive for the University, especially in view of our increasing involvement with the new medical school and working with pediatric oncology.”