Fairfield University professor receives $10,000 grant to take geriatric nursing certificate program to the web

Fairfield University professor receives $10,000 grant to take geriatric nursing certificate program to the web

Image: Meredith Wallace The success of a geriatric nursing certificate program launched by Fairfield University's School of Nursing this fall has enabled Meredith Wallace, Ph.D., R.N., assistant professor of nursing at Fairfield and the Elizabeth DeCamp McInerny Endowed Chair in Health Sciences, to garner a second $10,000 grant from The Daphne Seybolt Culpeper Memorial Foundation, this time to develop an online version of the program.

The Daphne Seybolt Culpeper Memorial Foundation, Inc. last year awarded the Fairfield University School of Nursing $10,000 to develop a Geriatric Nursing Certificate Program for nurses who are seeking to increase their skills in working with older adults. The course ran last fall and graduated 18 students. The Culpeper Foundation has now awarded the School of Nursing an additional $10,000 to design an online version of the program that will allow Fairfield University to disseminate the course more widely.

The Daphne Seybolt Culpeper Foundation was established in 1983 and focuses its giving on education, health care, and human services.

The School of Nursing hopes to begin offering the online course in the fall semester of 2005.

"We had extraordinary interest in the fall," said Dr. Wallace, a resident of New Haven. "Now we will be able to offer the program to a much broader population."

Advances in medical care have resulted in much longer lifespans and thus increased need for nurses who are familiar with caring for older adults, Dr. Wallace said. U.S. citizens are living on average to the age of 83, 18 years more than they did 100 years ago, according to the U.S. Administration on Aging.

However, many misconceptions persist among healthcare workers about the care of older adults, Dr. Wallace said, such as that they are difficult to deal with and ungrateful for the care they receive.

Measures of nurses before and after the Geriatric Certificate Program indicated that they had improved their knowledge and attitudes about working with older adults, Dr. Wallace said.

The certificate program provides students with 24 contact hours of work. With six more hours, registered nurses with two years of experience working with older adults can then sit for the Gerontological Specialty Nursing Certification 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, Dr. Wallace said.

Kathleen Lovanio, R.N., B.S.N., a graduate student in the School of Nursing, was serving a clinical rotation with a geriatric nurse practitioner at Bridgeport Hospital and took the certificate course to increase her knowledge and augment her experience in working with the nurse practitioner.

"It was a very comprehensive course," said Lovanio, an Orange resident who is studying to become an adult nurse practitioner. "It enhanced my personal knowledge of that general population." Lovanio said she enjoys working with the geriatric population, and may pursue it as a nursing specialty.

"We are grateful to the Culpeper Foundation for its continued support Fairfield University's efforts to address the need for nurses who specialize in geriatric healthcare," said Jeanne Novotny, Ph.D., FAAN, dean of the School of Nursing at Fairfield. "The School of Nursing has made educating nurses to work with this population a priority in its curriculum advancement, and the Geriatric Nurse Certificate Program is a significant initiative for furthering that aim."

Posted On: 01-15-2005 10:01 AM

Volume: 37 Number: 138