Fairfield University School of Nursing awarded two grants - one to educate nurses and one to promote physical activity older adults

The School of Nursing at Fairfield University has been awarded two grants totaling nearly $60,000 to educate nurses in its graduate programs and to provide services for low-income older adults residing in senior housing sites in Bridgeport, Conn.

The Department of Health and Human Services' Health Resources and Administrative Services Bureau of Health Professions has awarded Fairfield University an Advanced Education Nursing Traineeship grant, which provides tuition remission funds for students enrolled in graduate studies in the School of Nursing. The $29,897 grant, which will fund students during the 2003-2004 academic year, is a 60 percent increase over funding provided in 2003.

Fairfield University's School of Nursing was able to increase its funding by demonstrating that its graduates are working in underserved areas or with underserved populations, said Jeanne Novotny, Ph.D., Dean of the School of Nursing.

"That is one way in which the federal government hopes to better serve the needs of those who require health care," Dr. Novotny said.

The Graduate Program in Nursing at Fairfield University leads to a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree. Students can apply for scholarships in both the fall and spring semesters.

Fairfield University's School of Nursing has also received a $24,996 grant from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through The National Blueprint Partners Project at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for a "Step Up to Health" project. The National Blueprint project joins more than 50 national organizations with a shared interest in increasing physical activity among adults age 50 and above.

"Step Up to Health," is a one-year collaborative effort among the Fairfield University School of Nursing's Health Promotion Center (HPC), Housing Ministries of New England, and Augustine Housing's Bishop Curtis Homes.

The HPC, a Bridgeport-based outreach program, will hold focus groups with older adults living in Housing Ministries or Augustine sites in Bridgeport, to ascertain what activities older adults are willing to participate in.

The next step is to set up support groups to engage in those activities. By the end of the year, the groups should be self-sustaining, said Philip Greiner, D.N.Sc., R.N., associate professor in the School of Nursing and director of the Health Promotion Center.

"One of the big contributing factors to decline in older age is that we decrease the amount of physical activity we have in our lives, which then contributes to lethargy, weight gain, and depression and further compromises your ability to do other things in life," Dr. Greiner said. "It becomes a cycle."

Continued physical activity in older adults can reduce the risks of cardiovascular disease, which is linked to diabetes, stroke, and arthritis.

"The goal is for improving quality of life over an extended lifetime," Dr. Greiner said.

The "Step Up to Health" project is a natural fit for the HPC, which has provided screening, education and referral services to the underserved in Bridgeport and surrounding communities since 1993. The HPC's philosophy is to create programs that will be viable on an ongoing basis without continued support from external sources. Fairfield University School of Nursing students will participate in the initiative to work with the older adults in Bridgeport, which is home to more than 25,000 people age 60 and over. Nearly 25 percent of those adults are low income (below 150 percent of poverty level) and nearly 25 percent are minorities.

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

Posted on June 12, 2003

Vol. 35, No. 319

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