DSW Candidate Solimar Santiago-Warner Appointed to National Pediatric Palliative Care Task Force
Solimar Santiago-Warner, DSW ’22, has been appointed to a two-year term on the National Coalition for Hospice and Palliative Care’s inaugural Pediatric Palliative Care Task Force. According to the Coalition, the intent of the inter-professional task force, funded by a two-year grant from the Cameron and Hayden Lord Foundation, “is to improve national alignment and impact by identifying feasible action items to accelerate advancement of the field and improve children’s access to high-quality palliative care.”
Solimar, who earned her MSW from Boston College and holds a Post-Master’s Certificate in Palliative and End-of-Life Care from NYU Silver’s renowned Zelda Foster Studies Program, is a Perinatal Palliative Care Social Worker and Counselor at Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital at New York Presbyterian. In this role, she supports mothers, families and their medical teams as they navigate life-limiting diagnosis and loss, provides consultation and support to the Labor and Delivery personnel, and works with the OB/GYN service to develop a patient centered curriculum focusing on perinatal loss for medical residents. She is a regular speaker on perinatal loss, psychosocial support in the medical setting, and care with cultural competency, and has drafted administrative policies around perinatal loss and bereavement. In addition, she is both a teaching assistant and field instructor in NYU Silver’s MSW program.
As doctoral candidate, Solimar focuses her research on supporting diverse/Latinx families through perinatal loss. She was motivated to seek her DSW in order “to contribute to clinical scholarship in perinatal palliative care, teach future clinicians, and pursue an executive leadership position in hospital administration.” She was attracted to NYU Silver by the program structure, which prepares students for leadership and teaching, the commitment to social justice, and the community. She explained, “It is very important to me that I am associated with an institution that shares my core values, and Silver's demonstrated commitment to pursuing social justice aligns directly with my experience and efforts.” Furthermore, she said, “I had a positive experience in the year-long Zelda Foster Studies Post-Master’s Certificate Program and felt that coming to NYU is like coming home.”
Solimar credits NYU Silver’s DSW program with helping to raise her profile in the field and positioning her to be appointed to the task force. “The DSW program provides the whole package,” she said. “It has taught me how to engage in research and practice and present myself as a leader and expert. It is not just about earning extra letters after my last name, but about making an impact in the community, creating real changes on a policy level, and representing as a woman of color in leadership. One of the requirements for graduation is to present at a major conference. With the encouragement of Dr. Abigail Nathanson, I submitted an abstract to the Social Work Hospice and Palliative Care Network (SWHPN) during my first week of school. I was able to present my work, which was turned into a webinar; that opportunity opened doors and allowed me to connect with others who have the same interests. Since then, I was invited to speak again at a panel this past June, and that exposure is what led to my being appointed as a member of the Pediatric Palliative Care Task Force.”
Solimar noted that her participation in NYU Silver’s Zelda Foster Studies Program has also played a key role in her career and her task force appointment. “When I earned my post-graduate certification in palliative and end-of-life care at NYU, it helped me explore ideas and think about implementing change not just as a practitioner but also as a leader,” she said. “It allowed me to dissect a problem and then think creatively on addressing the areas of need by utilizing clinical and leadership skills. The experience of the year-long program had a lasting effect on my practice. I was able to use the skills and build creative practices and standards in various settings, including my current position. As the social worker for a perinatal palliative care program, I created the social support services of the program from the ground up. I implemented counseling services and standardized patient-centered care based on evidence-based practices. Today we have a robust program that provides support throughout the entire perinatal journey and bereavement.”
Clinical Professor and Zelda Foster Studies Program Director Susan Gerbino now serves as Solimar’s DSW program mentor and capstone committee chair. “Dr. Gerbino always encourages me to write and express my thoughts and ideas,” said Solimar. “Her expertise in palliative care is indispensable and has helped me hone my focus on perinatal palliative care. She challenges me to reflect on interventions and embrace varied perspectives to enhance the practice. I am always able to explore ideas and concepts in a supportive environment. Drs. Nathanson and Jennifer Manuel have also pushed me to ‘put myself out there.’ If there is a hesitation or doubt, I can count on them to say, ‘yes, you can do this.’”