Mercedes Bern-Klug, M.S.W., Ph.D.

John A. Hartford Geriatric Social Work Scholar
American Association of Social Welfare and Social Work, Fellow
Fulbright Faculty Scholar - Mexico

Mercedes Bern-Klug CV

Mercedes Bern-Klug is an Associate Professor specializing in gerontology, with a focus on long-term services and supports for older persons and persons with disabilities. Previously, Bern-Klug was the Director of the School of Social Work.

Bern-Klug conducts research on how social workers and other health care providers can support older adults and their family members with the psychosocial implications of with medical decision-making in long-term care settings. Her research has been supported by the AARP Andrus Foundation, the John A. Hartford Foundation, The Soros Foundation, the UI Cancer and Aging Program, and the Retirement Research Foundation. In 2010 she was awarded the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Faculty Achievement Award for excellence in research, teaching, and service. In 2011, she was inducted as a fellow in the Gerontological Society of America. In 2014, she was appointed by the Iowa City Council to the Ad Hoc Senior Services committee to review the senior center and senior services in the Iowa City area. She edited the book Transforming Palliative Care in Nursing Homes: The Social Work Role (Columbia University Press, 2010).  

Research Interests 

Gerontology, demography; long-term care; psychosocial issues in advanced chronic illness; nursing home social work; end-of-life issues; funeral arrangements; creative writing for social workers

Teaching Areas 

Introduction to Nursing Homes; Global Aging; Research Methods

Work Experience

Administration in the field of aging; community organizing and education

Recent Publications

  • Mercedes Bern-Klug & Elizabeth Cordes (2021) Dementia Tops Training Needs of Nursing Home Social Services Directors; Discharge Responsibilities Are Common Core Functions of the Department, Journal of Gerontological Social Work, 64:7, 758-774, DOI: 10.1080/01634372.2021.1920538
  • Denise Gammonley, Xiaochuan Wang, Kelsey Simons, Kevin M. Smith & Mercedes Bern-Klug (2021) Serious Mental Illness in Nursing Homes: Roles and Perceived Competence of Social Services Directors, Journal of Gerontological Social Work, 64:7, 721-739, DOI: 10.1080/01634372.2021.1912241
  • Mercedes Bern-Klug, Kevin M. Smith, Amy Restorick Roberts, Nancy Kusmaul,
    Denise Gammonley, Paige Hector, Kelsey Simons, Colleen Galambos, Robin P. Bonifas, Chris
    Herman, Deirdre Downes, Jean C. Munn, Giang Rudderham, Elizabeth A. Cordes & Robert
    Connolly (2021) About a Third of Nursing Home Social Services Directors Have Earned a
    Social Work Degree and License, Journal of Gerontological Social Work, 64:7, 699-720, DOI:
  • Nancy Kusmaul, Susanny Beltran, Tommy Buckley, Allison Gibson &
    Mercedes Bern-Klug (2021) Structural Characteristics of Nursing Homes and Social Service
    Directors that Influence Their Engagement in Disaster Preparedness Processes, Journal of
    Gerontological Social Work, 64:7, 775-790, DOI: 10.1080/01634372.2021.1933293
  • Xiaochuan Wang, Kelsey Simons, Denise Gammonley, Amy Restorick Roberts & Mercedes Bern-Klug (2021) Social Service Directors’ Roles and Self-Efficacy in Suicide Risk Management in US Nursing Homes, Journal of Gerontological Social Work, 64:7, 791-810, DOI: 10.1080/01634372.2021.1936331
  • Mercedes Bern-Klug, Kara A. Carter & Yi Wang (2021) More Evidence that Federal Regulations Perpetuate Unrealistic Nursing Home Social Services Staffing Ratios, Journal of Gerontological Social Work, 64:7, 811-831, DOI: 10.1080/01634372.2021.1937432
  • Amy Restorick Roberts, Kevin Smith, Mercedes Bern-Klug & Paige Hector (2021) Barriers to Psychosocial Care in Nursing Homes as Reported by Social Services Directors, Journal of Gerontological Social Work, 64:7, 832-850, DOI: 10.1080/01634372.2021.1937766
Research areas
  • Aging, Longevity, and End of Life
Mercedea Bern-Klug
Ph.D. in Social Welfare, University of Kansas, 2003
M.A. in Applied Demography, Georgetown University, 1991
M.S.W. (Administration), The University of Iowa, 1984
Contact Information

308 North Hall (NH)
Iowa City, IA 52242
United States