Social Work Certificate

Obtain a Social Work Certificate in Animal Hospice and Palliative Care!

The AHPC Social Work Certificate is the process by which a non-governmental organization grants recognition to an individual who has demonstrated a high level of knowledge, skill, and ability. Obtaining the AHPC Social Work Certificate means that one has met specific requirements including training, experience, and education, and has passed a series of post-tests. The AHPC Social Work Certificate indicates a substantial professional commitment to the field and documents this experience to employers, colleagues, and clients. Establish your credibility and gain the confidence of employers and clients by achieving the AHPC Social Work Certificate.

The AHPC Social Work Certificate Program standardizes and defines the skills and knowledge required of individuals and organizations offering animal hospice and palliative care, and establishes a standard of care for these services that will reflect a level of excellence achieved by those individuals who have obtained the AHPC Social Work Certificate.

The AHPC SW certificate program is a 61 hour NASW approved continuing education program that is presented in ten modules, nine online (37.5 hours) and one onsite at the IAAHPC conference (23.5 hours.) The program begins with an overview of fundamental concepts and progresses to cover the unique challenges of providing veterinary medical, nursing, and psychosocial support as related to the animal hospice model. The program is designed to be completed over a four to 16 month period. The flexible format is designed to allow students to create a curriculum timeline that best fits their busy schedule and CE renewal cycle. Online modules are composed of streaming lectures and activities that students can complete and submit at their own pace.

The on-site module is offered once each year and is held in conjunction with the IAAHPC conference. Here, students will partake in a wet lab that gives students the opportunity to be introduced to euthanasia techniques and supportive interventions for the human family members. On-site conference sessions will allow for small group activities with individualized instruction from leaders in the field of animal hospice, and networking opportunities with hospice-minded colleagues that will help facilitate learning well after the course is completed.

Eligibility Requirements

At present, program enrollment is limited to:

  • Currently licensed Social Worker
  • Applicants must be IAAHPC members in good standing
Cost of Tuition

The total cost of tuition for the AHPC Social Work Certificate is $1,150 for Licensed Social Workers.

Tuition is paid in two stages. The fee structure is as follows:

– Stage 1: Module 1-9 – Online Module, 37.5 hours: $700

– Stage 2: Module 10 – Onsite Conference and Euthanasia Lab Module, 23.5 hours: $450 *Travel expenses are additional and the responsibility of each student.

Should you decide to drop out of the AHPC Social Work Certificate Program, or if you are unable to meet any of the module deadlines (including post-tests, full conference attendance, and completion of the required labs), the following will apply:

  • Re-enrollment is only offered within the following 12 months of your initial registration date.
  • If you wish to re-enroll in the AHPC Social Work Certificate program, there is a $350 re-enrollment fee.
  • If you do re-enroll you do not have to complete any modules that you have successfully completed during those re-enrollment acceptable 12 months.
  • However, if you are unable to re-enroll within the following 12 months of your initial registration date, you will need to begin the AHPC Social Work Certificate program over, as if you were a new student, including re-submitting your application, paying for, and retaking all modules (even if they were previously completed).
Application Process

Registration opens April 1 each year and will remain open year-round. The program can be completed in 3-24 months at the students’ convenience.

  1. Purchase curriculum.
  2. Login to the learning portal using the user name and password you created when registering for the course
  3. Click on the AHPC Student Application area where you will need to fill out a student application.
  4. Complete the application by following the posted directions.
  5. You will receive a message alert verifying that your application has been successfully submitted.
  6. When your application has been reviewed, verified and accepted, you will receive an email notification that you can begin (approval may take up to 2 weeks time).
Social Work Module Content and Curriculum

Our AHPC SW Certificate Program consists of 9 online modules and 1 onsite module.  

  • Module 1 Social Work Certificate Overview
  • Module 2 The Interdisciplinary Team and Social Worker Role
  • Module 3  The AHPC Need
  • Module 4 The Veterinarian Role in Hospice
  • Module 5 The AHPC Client Needs
  • Module 6 The Nursing Role in Hospice
  • Module 7 End of Life and Euthanasia
  • Module 8 Healing
  • Module 9 The Business of AHPC
  • Onsite Module 10: Conference and Euthanasia Lab (completed at the conference).

This onsite module is held in conjunction with the IAAHPC Annual Conference.  Conference attendance is required giving you the choice to attend one in two years. Mandatory completion of the required half-day Euthanasia Techniques Lab, even if previously taken. Preparing the Children’s textbook is provided at the conference.

The AHPC Social Work Certificate is awarded at the annual conference. 

Classroom Portal Login

Use the same name and password you created when registering for the course

Social Work Instructors

Amir Shanan, DVM

Amir Shanan, DVM

Dr. Shanan received his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1985 and has been practicing in Chicago since then. In 1995 Dr. Shanan founded Compassionate Veterinary Care to offer in-home medical, consultation and euthanasia services to owners of geriatric and terminally ill dogs and cats. Dr. Shanan is recognized nationally and internationally as a visionary and pioneer in developing end of life and hospice care for animals.

In 2009 Dr. Shanan founded the International Association for Animal Hospice and Palliative Care, now the leading interdisciplinary organization promoting comfort-oriented care for companion animals at the end of life. Dr. Shanan is a leader in developing practice guidelines for companion animals end of life care, and in developing the first AHPC Certification Program. He is the primary editor of Hospice and Palliative Care for Companion Animals: Principles and Practice, the first AHPC textbook (scheduled for publication late 2016). Dr. Shanan is dedicated to his loving and supportive family, including soulmate Liat and sons Gilad, Avner and Yoram. His interests include nature, animal cognition, and playing rubber bridge.

Tammy Wynn, MHA, LISW, RVT

Tammy Wynn, MHA, LISW, RVT

Tammy Wynn received a Masters in Clinical Social Work from The University of Louisville in 1983 and is licensed as a Social Worker and Marriage and Family Therapist. She obtained a Masters in Hospital and Health Administration from Xavier University in 1992.  In 2009, she graduated from the University of Cincinnati Veterinary Technician program and is licensed as a Registered Veterinary Technician in Ohio and Kentucky.  She received the University of Cincinnati Blue Ash Distinguished Alumni Award in 2015 for her innovative work in pet hospice and palliative care.

An example of when passion, life’s purpose, and preparation intersect, Tammy founded Angel’s Paws in 2010. Angel’s Paws multi-disciplinary team provides 24/7 service including pet hospice, home euthanasia, private cremation, grief counseling and free pet loss support groups, all under one roof.  Her skills as a Hospital Administrator, Quality Improvement Consultant, Radio Talk Show Host, Licensed Human Therapist and Registered Vet Tech is perfectly matched for this venture.  Her previous work in her successful consulting business, Team Resources, positioned small and large businesses to excel in sales escalation and outrageous customer service through her quality improvement expertise.  As a pioneer in her field, she loves to support and encourage other like-minded adventurers.  She is one of the five-member IAAHPC/ AHPC task force and was invited by AAHA to collaborate with other leaders in the field to create the AAHA End of Life Guidelines for dogs and cats. She serves as the Education and Conference Chair for IAAHPC.

Shea Cox, DVM, CVPP, CPLP

Shea Cox, DVM, CVPP, CPLP

Dr. Cox graduated from Michigan State University in 2001. Prior to offering hospice and palliative care, her veterinary career had been spent solely in an emergency and critical care setting for 13 years prior to launching Bridge Veterinary Services nearly 5 years ago. Dr. Cox has since integrated her hospice services into two referral specialty hospitals in the Bay Area and continues to develop this niche in the end of life care. Dr. Cox’s change in focus was a natural extension, as life prior to veterinary medicine involved a career as a Registered Nurse. For nearly a decade, she worked first-hand in areas of home health care, transitional care, and hospice environments, giving her an understanding of this service and its importance to the entire family unit.  

Dr. Cox is one of four Hospice and Palliative Care consultants for VIN and has authored nine chapters for two upcoming veterinary textbooks, Hospice and Palliative Care for Companion Animals: Principles and Practice and Treatment and Care of the Geriatric Veterinary Patient. She was also on the panel of experts that developed the AAHA/IAAHPC End of Life Care Guidelines for Dogs and Cats, which will be released in the fall of 2016.

Dr. Cox currently serves on the Board of Directors for the IAAHPC and holds a position on the Executive Committee for the American Association of Human Animal Bond Veterinarians.

Kathy Cooney, DVM, MS

Kathy Cooney, DVM, MS

Dr. Cooney graduated from Colorado State University’s veterinary college in the spring of 2004. She founded Home to Heaven, an in-home pet hospice and euthanasia service in northern Colorado in the fall of 2006.  In the spring of 2011, she completed writing her first book about home euthanasia techniques. In 2012, she completed writing her second book Veterinary Euthanasia Techniques: A practical guide and has been a contributing author to many animal hospice publications, including the IAAHPC’s Animal Hospice Guidelines. Dr. Cooney was a contributing panel member with the 2013 American Veterinary Medical Association’s guidelines on euthanasia and is the founder of the Companion Animal Euthanasia Training Academy. She was President of the IAAHPC in 2015 and travels nationally and internationally to speak on her work and the current advancements in end-of-life care.

Tamara Shearer, DVM, CVPP, CVA, CCRP

Tamara Shearer, DVM, CVPP, CVA, CCRP

Dr. Shearer is a 1986 graduate of the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine.  In an effort to provide more options for her hospice and palliative care patients, Dr. Shearer has acquired 3 certifications as a Certified Canine Rehabilitation Practitioner, Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist, and Certified Veterinary Pain Practitioner.  

In 2004, the Washington Post ran a feature that included her non-profit organization, Pet Hospice, and Education Center that she founded in 2003 in Columbus, Ohio.  Her hospice efforts were documented in numerous publications including the AVMA Journal and Veterinary Practice News in 2006. She was the recipient of the Ingleheim Behringer Award in for her groundbreaking work in animal hospice and was voted Veterinarian of the Year by the Hartz Mountain Corporation. Dr. Shearer also received the Ohio Animal Foundation’s Award for Community Service.  

In addition to lecturing at national meetings, Dr. Shearer shared her hospice experiences at the First International Hospice and Palliative Care Symposium at UC Davis and organized the first complete Hospice Tract at the 2010 AVMA Annual Meeting in Atlanta.  She was a contributing author for a chapter about hospice care in Dr. Gaynor’s, Handbook of Veterinary Pain Management.  Dr. Shearer was the guest editor and author, Veterinary Clinics of North America on hospice and palliative care.  She was also a co-author of the textbook Hospice and Palliative Care for Companion Animals: Principles and Practice. Dr. Shearer is the practice owner of the Western Carolina Animal Pain Clinic where she focuses on rehabilitation, pain management and Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine for palliative care patients.  

Dr. Shearer served as 2009-2010 President of American Association of Human-Animal Bond Veterinarians and is a member of the International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management and the American Association of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine.

Cherie T. Buisson, DVM

Cherie T. Buisson, DVM

Dr. Cherie Buisson is a 2000 graduate of Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine. She owns Helping Hands Pet Hospice and founded A Happy Vet, a website dedicated to self-care in veterinary medicine. Dr. Buisson is a Florida Animal Control Association Certified Euthanasia Instructor as well as a featured author at DrAndyRoark.com. She has been a house call hospice and euthanasia practitioner since 2011. She lectures around the country on hospice, euthanasia and compassion fatigue. Dr. Buisson lives in Largo, FL with her husband, Derek, and their pets.

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