By Natalie Galucia, MSW, Harvey A. Friedman Center for Aging & Roger Wong, MPH, MSW, PhD, Brown School of Social Work
Washington University has a variety of options available to students pursuing careers in aging. Across both the Danforth and School of Medicine Campuses, students are preparing for this field. To get a taste of the different degree paths and opportunities available, students are providing their insights in this three-part blog series. Each blog features a Q&A with students about why they have chosen to pursue a career in aging and what their experiences have been so far.
Part two of this series focuses on Roger Wong. Roger received a BS in Neurobiology and Behavior from Cornell University as well as an MPH and MSW before transitioning to the PhD program for Public Health Sciences in the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis. Here is what he had to say:
How do you plan to use your degree in the field of aging?
Roger: “I intend to remain in academia, as a faculty member in either a school of public health or social work. Ideally, I will be balancing my research agenda (racial/ethnic disparities in Alzheimer’s disease and dementia) and my teaching load that includes gerontology courses.”
Have you previously worked in the field of aging?
Roger: “I did not have formal practice experience working with older adults during my undergraduate and graduate training, but I spent many years assisting the physical therapists and occupational therapists at my local nursing home when I was in high school.”
What advice do you have those who are beginning to think about what career they may choose or those who are just starting out in the field of aging?
Roger: “It is important to get exposure, which could look like shadowing professionals, talking to experts and professionals in the field, and conducting research in aging. I had quite a lot of shadowing, mentoring, and research experience leading up to my decision to pursue a PhD, and I found these experiences helpful in figuring out what I did and did not enjoy doing.”
Would you recommend that others choose careers in aging? If so, why?
Roger: “Absolutely! With advances in modern medicine and public health, life expectancy will continue to increase and issues in aging will affect us all. Therefore, gerontologists are needed now in nearly every discipline.”
Stay tuned to our website for Part Three of the series featuring Annie Wright from the School of Medicine.