QNE_p054

QC10022015

12 The QUEE NS Courier • health • OCTOBER 1, 2015 for breaking news visit www.queenscourier.com ▶health GERIATRIC NURSING AND AGING “Professional education is acquired though the learning experience offered with courses preparing the student for the role of leader and teacher, and that can be implemented at a level of competency.” Eleanor C. Lambertsen, RN, Ed.D. Nurses play a critical role in caring for the sick and frail older adult, and in promoting healthy aging. Yet not only is there a general shortage of nurses in the United States, there are even fewer nurses who have specialized in geriatric skills. Of the 2.5 million registered nurses in the U.S., less than 15,000 are certified in geriatrics. And of the 111,000 advanced practice nurses, only 3,500 are geriatric nurse practitioners and/or clinical specialists. This presents a looming crisis as fewer nurses with the appropriate credentials will be available to care for a growing aging population. It’s important to (1) enlist faculty to train the future nurse in the care of a burgeoning older adult population and (2) institute urgently needed clinical research studies on the complex health needs of this particular population. To address this glaring shortfall, nursing schools must be prepared to implement the gero-nursing profile as a legitimate and functioning specialty by (1) attracting new talent into the field by utilizing current technology (i.e. newsprint, Internet); (2) creating collaborative relationships with fellow academicians, health care providers and institutions, and community organizations; (3) promoting new programs in patient care by stressing the use and application of evidence based knowledge in our nation’s nursing schools. Since 1995, the John A. Hartford Foundation has provided millions of dollars to the Hartford Institute for the express purpose of training nurses in geriatric nursing. Building such a program will require (1) a commitment of those who are familiar with the necessary clinical and academic requirements, and (2) a goal for effecting these strategies. Therefore any university that seeks to build a strong geriatric presence must re-focus on the following strategies: • Employ faculty that is fully trained in care of the aged to carry out these goals in the classroom and clinical setting. • Foster partnerships through the dissemination of best practices in our contact with medical and nursing programs, in nursing facilities, nursing homes, etc. • Invest in innovative seminars that focus on enlightened societal programs on aging and the contributions of nursing. • Network with other undergraduate faculty, especially in the social sciences. • Encourage nurses enrolled in doctoral programs to consider choosing a theme in the field of aging for their dissertations. • Establish a nursing college award named after a scientist, writer involved in the field of aging (Dr. Robert Butler is but one example). Change can occur through the promotion of a sustainable and robust faculty committed to the advancement of a vital and necessary field. One final thought: the geriatric nurse will be in heavy demand with the rapid growth of the baby boomer generation. It is statistically accurate that this population, growing daily at 10,000 throughout the U.S., and 4 million yearly, is becoming a political, economic and social force. Sheldon Ornstein Ed.D, RN Dr. Sheldon Ornstein is a registered professional nurse with a doctoral degree in nursing organization. He has specialized in the care of older adults and has published many articles on the subject. He has done post-graduate work in gerontology and has taught at several universities. In 2013, he was inducted into the Nursing Hall of Fame at Teachers College, Columbia University. 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QC10022015
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