Program Funded To Produce More College-Educated Geriatrics Nurses

The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Nursing will lead an innovative effort to raise the number of college-educated geriatrics nurses in Arkansas nursing homes thanks to $250,000 awarded today by the national Partners Investing in Nursing’s Future program to a collaboration led by the Arkansas Community Foundation.

Arkansas Community Foundation is one of 10 foundations nationwide to receive funding this year from the program partner, a national initiative to help address the long-term shortage of nurses across the country. The program is led by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Northwest Health Foundation.

The two-year, $250,000 grant will be matched by several Arkansas sources, including the Arkansas State Board of Nursing and the Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care. The goal is to raise $250,000 locally, and Arkansas Community Foundation has committed to assist in the long-term sustainability of the program by working to secure future, stable sources of funding.

Money raised will support efforts to unify the state’s fragmented geriatrics nursing education system and draw certified nursing assistants and licensed practical nurses working in geriatric long-term care into college nursing degree programs. In Arkansas, the bulk of the funds will go to the UAMS College of Nursing, which will work in partnership with Arkansas Community Foundation, the Arkansas State Board of Nursing, the Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care, and the Arkansas Health Care Association. Leaders from each partner organization will form an executive committee that is charged with developing the plan for a geriatrics nursing education pathway and to do a pilot test of their plan.

The percentage of people age 65 and older in Arkansas already is higher than the national average (13.9 percent compared to 12.5 percent), and only six other states have higher levels of poverty than Arkansas. With the baby boomers retiring (including retiring nurses), by 2025, 24 percent of Arkansans will be 65 or older.

Nationally, the shortage of registered nurses is expected to reach 29 percent by 2020. Add to that the fact that of the 2.56 million registered nurses in the U.S., fewer than 15,000 (.005 percent) are certified gerontological nurses.

“Nursing homes in Arkansas already are in great need of nurses with baccalaureate degrees and geriatrics expertise. Without significant effort, we risk neglecting a generation of seniors who will need those specially trained nurses,” said UAMS’ Claudia Beverly, Ph.D., R.N., who will oversee the project. “That’s why I am so excited about this grant. We have an opportunity to really strengthen the quality of care and quality of life in nursing homes through a better prepared geriatrics nurse work force.” For more, read the story.

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Robert W. Carter, Jr. is a Virginia attorney whose law practice is dedicated to protecting the rights of the victims of nursing home and assisted living neglect and abuse in Richmond, Roanoke, Norfolk, Lynchburg, Danville, Charlottesville, and across Virginia.

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