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Project AGE: Accessing Gerontological Education

Awarded July 2009 through July 2012

Joanne Miller, PhD, APN, and team have been awarded a three-year Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) grant to recruit students into a fully online gerontology advanced practice program. HRSA, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is the principal federal agency charged with increasing access to health care for those who are medically underserved. The grant award amount is $151,000 each year, from July 2009 through June 2012.

The primary goal of Miller's grant is to increase the number and diversity of advanced practice gerontological nurses prepared to meet the needs of the growing number of older adults. The grant funds the development of the gerontological nurse practitioner (GNP) program at Rush University into a fully online format. These changes in the GNP program allow the adult-gerontological NP and clinical nurse specialist programs to also be offered fully online. With 11 states having no GNP program, and only five GNP programs primarily online, there is a great need to increase the access of nurses to advanced education about caring for older adults. This grant makes gerontological graduate education available to students in rural and remote areas, and removes the barriers of distance and travel for a quality education. The gerontological programs at Rush have a long history of quality education, and are currently ranked ninth nationally by U.S.News & World Report's annual guide to America's best graduate schools.

Currently, only 1% of nurses are certified in gerontological nursing. Over 50% of hospital patients are older adults. Also, 80% of home care and 90% of long-term care patients are older adults. There is a very real need to increase the number of advance practice nurses (APNs) to meet the growing health care needs and numbers of older adults, especially in underserved areas. This project provides an innovative and readily accessible model for competency development in gerontological education that prepares a well-educated and diverse workforce to care for our aging population.

Miller's grant has been moving forward with great speed. Rush University College of Nursing is now accepting students into the online Master of Science in nursing (MSN) program in gerontological nursing. The program is approximately three years part-time and 100% online, enabling students to complete classes and clinicals from virtually anywhere across the country or globe. Students have the option to complete the clinical nurse specialist or nurse practitioner track.



Photo caption: Rush University College of Nursing faculty member, Joanne Miller, PhD, APN, and team have been awarded a three-year Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) grant to recruit students into a fully online gerontology advanced practice program.




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