Reflection's from Candidates for Credentialing

Reflections on the Benefits of NAPG Certification

Susan Harlan, M.A.

Three years ago I entered the Masters in Gerontology program at SFSU with great enthusiasm about this “new field” that seemed like social work with older adults. Having started an undergraduate degree in Social Work and switching to Journalism, eventually, it seemed like completing a circle. Yet, Gerontology is on the brink of expanding exponentially with the baby boomers. This new frontier can be exciting with lots of program exploration and development needed as well as current research and studies highlighting future concepts and practices.  In some ways, it’s the Wild West!

This is where NAPG (National Association for Professional Gerontologists) comes in at exactly the right time with the right idea. The need for credentialing and professional respect is just as important in the field today as the freedom of the new frontier. In fact, it’s more important because it’s only with order and consistency that Gerontologists will be able to work alongside nurses and social workers (MSWs) and be heard, be valued as team members. While research and exploration of new programs need to continue in Gerontology, the rules of the playing field can be set so that as a group, gerontologists are recognized and validated. 

In addition to the basic need for Credentialing that NAPG provides, the organization is also offering a Code of Ethics and CEUs with a list of course offerings. These provide professional support and currency to NAPG members, which brings with it professional responsibility. As a member of this organization, I will follow the NAPG Code of Ethics, a set of principles that outlines ethical standards. Having this Code of Ethics available online means it’s there all the time when there are any questions. And the List-serve will link me to other gerontologists if any ethical questions need some discussion. Another benefit of NAPG is having the group around you, arm-in-arm marching through this new territory.

Continuing to learn in the field of gerontology is another benefit of NAPG credentialing. A variety of classes is listed on the website, and CEUs are required for certification renewal, so that in a two-year period I will have the opportunity of studying again. That’s how to stay current in the field and learn something other than what a job might require. In my current job with the Center for Aging and Spirituality, associated with Sunny View Foundation, we offer programs for a wide range of professionals in gerontology, from chaplains to caregivers to nurses and older adults. The MSWs and RNs coming to these programs receive CEUs, and now I look forward to doing this along with them.

NAPG is starting at the right time, and I look forward to continuing my professional career in gerontology as a member!


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