Fairfield University School of Nursing to begin certificate course in geriatric nursing


This fall, the School of Nursing at Fairfield University is offering a Geriatric Nursing Certificate Program to address the critical need for education in the care of older adults.

The certificate in gerontological nursing is open to registered nurses and will partially qualify those with two years of experience to sit for the Gerontological Specialty Nursing Certificate examination provided by the American Nurse Credentialing Center. The credential provided by the center is a nationally recognized benchmark for excellence in geriatric nursing care, said Meredith Wallace, Ph.D., R.N., assistant professor of nursing at Fairfield University.

The certificate program was made possible by a $10,000 grant from the Daphne Seybolt Culpeper Memorial Foundation. It is an eight-week course that will run Monday nights from Sept. 27 through Nov. 22, from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., and will require approximately 24 contact hours of work.

"Fairfield University has consistently played a significant role in educating undergraduate nursing students about the special needs of aging adults," said Dr. Wallace. "The development of this certificate program is an essential next step in ensuring that all nurses provide compassionate and excellent care to older adults."

Topics covered in the program include, The Aging of America, Assessing the Elderly, Pathopharmacological Considerations in Aging, Legal and Policy Issues, Common Problems of Aging and End of Life Care of the Elderly.

The certificate program is designed to benefit faculty and graduates of the School of Nursing, as well as practicing nurses from partner hospitals, which include Bridgeport Hospital and Greenwich Hospital. The program is open to all interested nurses, but space is limited.

In recent years, the need for geriatric education has become more evident.

According to the federal government, Americans aged 65 and older will comprise more than 18 percent of the population in 2030, compared with only 12 percent in 1990. As healthcare has gotten more sophisticated, people with mortal illnesses are able to live longer, Dr. Wallace said. That requires nurses to rise to the challenge of helping older patients manage chronic disease, she said.

Older patients are often not treated as aggressively as younger patients, Dr. Wallace said, and there are many misconceptions about the care of older adults, such as that they are difficult to work with and unappreciative of the healthcare they receive. "It's not more difficult to work with older people," Dr. Wallace said. "It really is rewarding."

She said that the number of older adults requiring nursing care will continue to rise in the future. "It is essential that all nurses learn about the special needs of this growing population in order to ensure a high quality of life for older adults in our care," Dr. Wallace said.

The Fairfield University School of Nursing has been a leader in promoting education in geriatric nursing. The certificate program is the latest initiative in a series of steps the school is taking to fully integrate geriatric education into its program. In 2002, the School received a $90,000 grant from the John A. Hartford Foundation to develop its gerontological nursing curriculum.

"The need for education in geriatric nursing cannot be overstated, especially as we get nearer to the time when the Baby Boomer generation will begin to retire," said Jeanne Novotny, Ph.D., FAAN, dean of the School of Nursing at Fairfield. "We are very excited to work with local hospitals and healthcare providers to continue to educate nurses specializing in the care of older adults."

Thanks to a generous grant from the Daphne Seybolt Culpeper foundation, the program cost has been reduced to $350. For more information, please call Meredith Wallace at (203) 254-2719, or email mwallace@mail.fairfield.edu.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on July 8, 2004

Vol. 37, No. 15