MILWAUKEE – The Wisconsin Geriatric Education Center, housed in the Marquette University College of Nursing, has been awarded a five-year, $2 million grant from the United States Health Resources and Services Administration to help ensure that older adults throughout Wisconsin have access to quality healthcare. Stacy Barnes, College of Nursing, is director of the WGEC. One hundred percent of the $2,050,868 total grant award is financed with federal funds.
Similar to the nation’s population trends, Wisconsin is experiencing unprecedented growth in the number and proportion of older adults. Individuals aged 65 and older are projected to increase more than 90 percent by 2030 and the state’s oldest citizens (age 100-plus) will almost quadruple in the same period. Despite national and state population trends, healthcare workforce studies reveal that no health care profession has the minimum projected number of trained personnel necessary to meet the unique healthcare needs of older adults.
“The aging population presents more and more issues that our society’s health care providers need to be able to address,” said Dr. Margaret Callahan, dean of the Marquette University College of Nursing. “Older adults are more likely to suffer from chronic illnesses and need hospital and long term care. At the same time our population is aging, a growing number of health care workers are reaching retirement age. We must educate new generations of health care professionals to care for members of society at this most vulnerable time of their lives.”
The WGEC consortium will focus its efforts on improving patient care and safety for Wisconsin’s older adults by training health professions students, faculty and practitioners in Wisconsin, with emphasis on Milwaukee and Dane counties.
The WGEC will develop, implement and evaluate several new educational interventions during the five-year grant period. It will:
• Train students from non-dental health disciplines about geriatric oral health issues
• Train health professionals how to integrate palliative care practices into geriatrics
• Develop and evaluate new injury-related geriatrics curriculum
• Train health profession students about evidence-based standards and practices for depression
• Provide health profession students with clinical geriatric training in hospitals and clinics
• Provide ongoing interdisciplinary continuing education opportunities to health professionals
The WGEC is a formal consortium of academic and healthcare organizations that has collaborated since 1986 to ensure that Wisconsin’s health professions workforce is adequately trained in geriatrics and gerontology. In addition to Marquette University, current consortium members include the Medical College of Wisconsin, University of Wisconsin and Aurora Health Care. Together, the WGEC consortium develops, implements and evaluates new curriculum and provides training to health professions faculty, students and practitioners throughout the state.
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