Geriatric center celebrates first year

By By Brandon Fausett

By Brandon Fausett

More people are living longer, making geriatric patient treatment a growing concern. A program at the U aims to specialize students in different areas of geriatric care to meet the need of an increasing bracket of patients.

The U Hartford Center of Geriatric Nursing Excellence celebrated its first year Oct. 9 and is among nine programs in the country that have received a five-year $1 million grant from the John A. Hartford Foundation.

The Ray and Tye Noorda Foundation gave the U a $500,000 match that will help to fund student scholarships on all levels of geriatric education, which was one of the requirements before receiving the center in 2007.

During the first five years, the center will utilize the distance learning program as well as prepare 18 to 20 nursing scientists and 22 students receiving a master’s or doctorate nursing degree to specialize in geriatrics.

The distance learning center caught the eye of the Hartford Center and allows students from all over the country to participate in the program without the problem of having to relocate.

“They have no boundaries,” said Jan Abramson, project administrator at the College of Nursing. “They can get on the computer and talk to each other at any time and have class together twice a week.”

Students can participate in the program from home or work, which helps them to move further in their studies. The program allows them to participate in class lectures as well as talk to students during the class.

The doctorate degree portion of the center is run through the U’s Distance Education program. The registered nurse and Bachelor of Science programs are run through online courses, and the master’s and doctorate of nursing degree programs are carried out through traditional, online and distant-learning classes.

“It’s a wonderful solution to give non-traditional students the possibility of education,” said Katie Schrier, manager of the College of Nursing operations.

The program allows students to sub-specialize in different parts of geriatric studies ranging from how geriatric patients interact with technology to posttraumatic stress issues.

“The subspeciality is truly geriatric and the student tailors it to their own interests,” Abramson said.

The population is living longer and the center is preparing students to be able to not only care for the increasing geriatric population, but also learn how to create equipment that will be more user-friendly for the field, Abramson said.

“I think it’s definitely something that’s needed especially with the aging population,” said Blaine Winters, a doctoral nursing student at the U.

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