Fairfield University's School of Nursing receives $15,000 grant, will offer free online geriatric course to nurses nationwide

Fairfield University's School of Nursing receives $15,000 grant, will offer free online geriatric course to nurses nationwide

The Adrian & Jessie Archbold Charitable Trust has awarded Fairfield University's School of Nursing $15,000 over two years to enhance an online version of its highly successful Geriatric Nurse Online Education Program and to allow the University to offer it free to any registered nurse who cares for the elderly. Nurses who would like to receive the approved contact hours for the course must pay $350.

The development of new technology and a greater emphasis on health promotion have allowed the population of older adults to live to an average of 83 years, 18 more than a century ago. While people are living longer, the increase in lifespan has also created a dramatic need for additional nursing care for older people with acute and chronic medical illnesses.

Image: Meredith Wallace "We are facing an international deficit in the number of registered nurses who are educated to provide this care," said Meredith Wallace, Ph.D., APRN, associate professor and the Elizabeth DeCamp McInerny Endowed Chair in Health Sciences at Fairfield. The geriatric education course, the first of its kind to be made available for free online, is a step toward meeting that need.

The course is designed to teach nurses to identify the unique needs of the older adult population, conduct effective assessments on older adults, differentiate normal from pathological changes in aging, implement interventions for common problems of aging, identify the effect of the graying of America on health policy and reimbursement, and assist older adults to have a peaceful end of life.

The Archbold grant builds on two previous grants the University received to launch the program and to put it online, said Dr. Wallace, a resident of New Haven.

The Daphne Seybolt Culpeper Memorial Foundation, Inc. in 2004 awarded the Fairfield University School of Nursing $10,000 to develop a Geriatric Nursing Education Program for nurses who are seeking to increase their skills in working with older adults. Based on the success of that course, the Culpeper Foundation earlier this year awarded the School an additional $10,000 to design an online version of the program, allowing Fairfield University to disseminate the course more widely.

The Archbold Trust grant allowed the School to hire a consultant to help develop the online version of the course and make it more robust, Dr. Wallace said. The grant has also provided enough funding to initially make the course free for nurses who are taking it to augment their knowledge about geriatric care.

"The generosity of the Archbold Trust is a great benefit not only to Fairfield University, but to any nurses who work with older adults and who would like to augment their knowledge base about how to provide the best care they can for their patients," said Jeanne M. Novotny, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N., dean of Fairfield University's School of Nursing.

The New York-based Adrian & Jessie Archbold Charitable Trust was established in 1976. The Trust provides support for the medical sciences, hospitals, health-related organizations, child welfare and youth programs, and social service agencies.

The geriatric nurse online program has been approved for 30 contact hours by the Connecticut Nurses' Association, an accredited approver by the American Nurses Credentialing Center's Commission on Accreditation. To receive the contact hours for the course, participants will be required to pay $350.

The online course curriculum was developed by several members of Fairfield University's nursing faculty, in cooperation with Christine Tocchi, M.S.N., A.P.R.N., geriatric nurse practitioner at Bridgeport Hospital.

"The geriatric population has very specific health needs, both physical and emotional," Tocchi said.

"With the expansion of this healthcare group we do need healthcare providers who can differentiate between normal changes in age and pathophysiology," Tocchi said. "This program will help healthcare workers to provide high-quality, cost-effective care to meet the complex needs of the elderly population."

Nurses can register online and start the course at any time, Dr. Wallace said. The course consists of 10 three-hour modules: The Aging of America; Geriatric Assessment; Health Policy, Reimbursement & Cultural Shifts in Aging; Health Promotion in the Elderly; Common Problems of Aging - Nutrition, Falls & Restraints; Common Problems of Aging - Pain, Sleep & Sexuality; Cognitive and Psychological Disorders; Pathological Changes of Aging; Pharmacological Considerations in the Elderly; and Spirituality and End-of-Life Care.

Posted On: 12-19-2005 10:12 AM

Volume: 38 Number: 123