Care for Baby Boomers Gets Boost with New Geriatrics Education Program

Posted: October 15, 2009 at 1:04 am, Last Updated: October 14, 2009 at 4:08 pm

By Marjorie Musick

With baby boomers starting to turn 65 in only two years, the U.S. Census Bureau projects the nation’s older population will double to 71.5 million by 2030. Created in response to this population shift, the new Partnership for Education in Gerontology (PEG) at Mason will prepare the nursing faculty to train students to manage the unique needs of older adults.

Robin Remsburg, associate dean of the School of Nursing in the College of Health and Human Services who is also a gerontological nurse, notes that older patients who are hospitalized are much more likely to develop conditions such as delirium, hospital-acquired infections and adverse reactions to medication that can prolong their hospitalization and exacerbate the original medical issues for which they were being treated.

“There are special needs to be considered when caring for older adults in various health care settings. Developing faculty expertise will allow us to meet the growing demand for nurses who know how to minimize the likelihood of complications by giving the best quality of gerontological care to patients,” says Remsburg.

On Oct. 24, approximately 24 nursing faculty members from Northern Virginia nursing schools, including Mason, will begin an extensive training program that will help them better teach undergraduate students how to care for older adults. The training will include two 15-hour seminar courses, a two-week summer practicum, a three-day certification review course and follow-up booster sessions.

As early as fall 2010, graduates from schools across the region may benefit from this faculty education program as nurse-educators begin to incorporate new PEG content into course materials.

The program, which will eventually be made available to other nursing schools outside of the region through online courses, is supported by a three-year Health Resources and Services Administration grant totaling almost a half-million dollars. AARP, the West Virginia Geriatrics Education Center and the Fairfax County Health Department are collaborating with the university on the project.

“As we join forces with community stakeholders and partners, the School of Nursing will do our part to fend off a potential public health crisis in Northern Virginia by helping older patients in hospitals or nursing homes receive the best possible care. Ultimately, patients will benefit, and that’s what this is all about,” says Remsburg.

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