Maria Hervada-Page: Providing a Social Work Curriculum for New Doctors

In 2015, Bryn Mawr College’s Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research celebrated its 100th anniversary. To mark the occasion, a series of feature stories were written to showcase alumni who embody the school’s mission of “Professionals for Purposeful Action.”

Read the feature on Bryn Mawr’s website.

Read the feature in the anniversary publication (PDF)

Maria Hervada-Page, MSS ’84, has always been drawn to the medical environment. As an undergraduate student at St. Joseph’s University, she worked in a hospital and was able to see a variety of professionals in action. But amidst all of the physicians, nurses and administrators, Hervada-Page was drawn to the support social workers provided to patients.

Now the assistant residency director at Thomas Jefferson University Department of Family & Community Medicine, Hervada-Page is in charge of the behavioral science curriculum for residents in family medicine.

Based in a primary care outpatient setting with more than 75,000 patient visits a year, Hervada-Page works with residents to include the biopsychosocial model in their health evaluations and helps them to improve their interviewing, communication and cultural competency skills. Her office serves as primary care for a mostly underserved urban population, and the team addresses a variety of health and social issues including mental illness, addiction, isolated elderly patients, depression, chronic conditions and preventative care.

“We’re teaching new doctors about how social issues impact people’s health and decision making,” Hervada-Page said. “I make the rounds and see their patients with them, teaching them to incorporate a social perspective into their care and refer patients to community-based resources that may help. My role is not a traditional social work role, but that’s the beauty of the social work profession – there are so many different things you can do with it.”

Hervada-Page also serves as the Thomas Jefferson University program director for Bridging the Gaps, a seven-week interprofessional community health internship that pairs health science and social work students with 15 community agencies. She has also provided clinical supervision for social work students for the past 20 years.

Hervada-Page sees a lot of herself in the students she works with today. They are often very stressed about figuring out their entire careers before they graduate, but she encourages them to keep an open mind and see where their first jobs lead them. She feels that if your priorities are in the right place, everything works out in the long run.

“The social work students I see today are pursuing this profession for the same reasons I did – a commitment to social justice, client advocacy and working with underserved populations,” Hervada-Page said. “The core values haven’t changed, and that’s refreshing.”

Photo credit: Bryn Mawr University