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The Power of Language: Empowering Social Work to Influence Word Choice in Patient-Centered Care

Date and Time

Monday, February 8, 2021
6 - 8 p.m.

Registration will close one hour before the class start time.

Offered via live webinar.

Completion of this class will result in the receipt of two (2) continuing education hours.

At the heart of communication in health care settings and beyond are decisions related to language and word choice. As palliative care has developed and been integrated across settings and diagnoses, phrases and concepts such as “quality of life,” “goals of care” and “suffering” weave across discussions, often without consciousness of the cultural, social, and historical contexts of the patient and family we are serving. No matter the setting, words and phrases significantly impact patient and family experiences, decisional outcomes, bereavement and legacy. Well-intentioned, yet misplaced word choice, can negatively impact patient interpretation of information and create distance when the goal is to enhance connection. Social workers, as experts and leaders in communication, can model and educate as they attend to their own language in speaking and documentation, and invite colleagues to join them in mitigating the unintended consequences of ineffective word choice. 

Terry AltilioTerry Altilio LCSW, APHSW-C - Palliative Work Consultant

Terry Altilio is a palliative social work consultant with over three decades of direct practice experience in palliative care, most recently in the Division of Palliative Care at Mt Sinai Beth Israel Medical Center. She is a recipient of a Mayday Pain and Society Fellowship Award in 2006 and a Social Work Leadership Award from the Open Society Institute’s Project on Death in America, which supported a social work post graduate fellowship and a social work listserv, both of which are continuing programs. In 2013, Terry was selected to receive the Project on Death in America, Career Achievement Award from the Social Work Hospice and Palliative Network. She lectures nationally and internationally on topics such as pain management, ethics, palliative care and psychosocial issues in palliative care. She lectures in post-masters programs at NYU, Smith and is guest faculty in an internet course through California State University San Marcos. In addition to co-authoring publications, she is co-editor with Shirley Otis-Green of the Oxford Textbook of Palliative Social Work and most recently co-editor with Bridget Sumser and Meaghan Leimena of Palliative Care – A Guide for Health Social Workers.

Anne KelemenAnne Kelemen LICSW, APHSW-C, Director of Psychosocial-Spiritual Care, Section of Palliative Care, Med star Washing Hospital Center

Anne Kelemen is the Director of Psychosocial/Spiritual Care for the Section of Palliative Care at MedStar Washington Hospital Center in Washington, where she provides patient care, teaches and participates in a variety of research activities. She is also the Director of the Social Work Fellowship program, that she created in 2019. Prior to joining the Hospital Center staff, Ms. Kelemen instituted the first palliative care service at MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. An Assistant Professor of Medicine at Georgetown University Medical Center, her research interests include the intersection between language and medicine and intimacy and chronic illness. Anne publishes on varied topics related to palliative care and social work and lectures nationally and internationally.

Class fees are listed below:

  • Full Tuition - $60
  • GSS Alumni - $50
  • Current Field Instructor - $50
  • Current Adjunct Faculty - $50
  • SWHPN Member - $50
  • 3+ members registering from one agency - $40 per registration
  • Non-Fordham Current MSW or Social Work PhD Student - $40
  • Veterans - $40
  • Fordham Faculty and Staff - $40
  • Current Fordham MSW or PhD Student - $30
  • Fordham Alumni Palliative Care Fellow - $30
  • Current Fordham Palliative Care Fellowship Field Instructor/Career Mentor - $30
  • Current Fordham Palliative Care Fellow - $0

Continuing Education Hours

Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service is a provider of social work continuing education hours, as approved by the New York State Education Department Board for Social Work.

Completion of this class will result in the receipt of two (2) continuing education hours . CEHs are not awarded for partial completion of the class.

Volume Discounts

For classes registered at the same time:

  • Two classes: 10% off total price
  • Three or four classes: 15% off total price
  • Five or more: 20% off total price

Volume discounts are not applied at checkout. A refund will be issued to the credit card used to register for the class.

Refunds and Cancellations

Refunds may be issued as follows:

  • 10 working days prior to the class date: full refund
  • 7 to 9 working days prior to the class date: 50% refund
  • 6 working days or less prior to the class date: no refund
NOTE: Working day is Monday through Friday, non-holiday days.
Refund requests must be made via email to The date on the email will be used to determine the amount of the refund.
If the class is cancelled, all registrants will receive a full refund.

You will receive the Zoom link for joining the class at least one day before the class. You will need a computer and a reliable WiFi connection. The computer may be a desktop or a laptop. It may be an Apple or Windows computer.

If you have never used Zoom before, you will likely be prompted to download an applet, which is a small program that allows Zoom to communicate with your computer. This is safe and you will need to do this to join the class.

It is NOT advised that you participate using a tablet (e.g,.an iPad) or a cellular phone. The software is not optimized for these devices.

Please plan to join the online class 15 minutes before the start time to be sure that you don’t have any problems connecting. We cannot provide technical support to you and refunds won’t be offered if you have technical problems. If you have any questions or concerns about this, please contact us at at least a few days before the class.