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St. Cloud State University Nursing Program Wins National Award in Geriatric Nursing

Thursday, September 1, 2005

In partnership with the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, the John A. Hartford Institute presents national Models of Excellence Awards for Baccalureate Education in Geriatric Nursing each year. The St. Cloud State University Department of Nursing Science received the 2004 "Clinical Settings in Geriatric Nursing Award" for their work with older adults in clinical settings that cross multiple, diverse community and care environments.

The impact of The Hartford Institute/AACN Award for Baccalaureate Education in Geriatric Nursing serves to raise the nation's standards and the public's expectations for superior geriatric nursing care that allows individuals to age in comfort and with dignity. The Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing was founded in 1996 and is the first of its kind to work exclusively towards the development and implementation of a comprehensive national agenda for improved geriatric nursing practice. In partnership with the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, the national voice for university and four-year college education programs in nursing, the Hartford Institute established this Award to help underscore the need of every nurse for comprehensive geriatric nursing skills and knowledge.

The purpose of the Hartford Award is to provide models of excellence that encourage the highest standards of gerontologic nursing education, and to provide national recognition to those eligible schools or programs of nursing that exhibit an exceptional, substantive, and innovative baccalaureate curriculum in gerontologic nursing education.

Excerpt from Award Booklet:

2004 Clinical Settings in Geriatric Nursing

St. Cloud State University Department of Nursing Science

Susan Johnson Warner, EdD, RN, Chair, Department of Nursing Science

Joan Wilcox, MS, APRN, BC and

Patricia Bresser, RN, PhD, Contact Faculty

Abstract: The new baccalaureate nursing program at St. Cloud State University (SCSU) offers an innovative curriculum developed to meet the current and future health needs of a changing society, including the needs of an aging population. Introduction to gerontological nursing occurs in the fall semester junior year with a two credit theory course, Nursing Care of Older Adults, combined with a three credit clinical course. Student learning in clinical settings focuses on healthy aging, and the role of the nurse in promotion and restoration of health and harmony, prevention of illness, and illness care of older adults. The clinical settings cross multiple, diverse community and care environments and include: the Ne-Ia-Shing Health Clinic in the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe reservation, The Central Minnesota Nurse Managed Center, the local Veterans Administration medical campus, an orthopedic unit at a local hospital, elders' homes, and assisted living sites in the community.

Innovation: Clinical experiences were created to provide meaningful learning experiences with older adults at various stages of health and illness. Clinical learning emphasizes the psychosocial, spiritual and physical health needs of older adults from a socio-cultural perspective. To achieve these goals, the nursing program established two unique educational partnerships, including the first nursing partnership with the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe and the Central Minnesota Nurse Managed Center. The Mille Lacs Band established the Ne-Ia-Shing Health Clinic on the reservation where students assist in the care of Ojibwe clients who come to the clinic for their health care. Student preparation includes a visit to the reservation and an orientation to the Ojibwe culture through a presentation at the Mille Lacs Indian Museum, meeting with clinic staff and the traditional healer. This background information is vital to student understanding of how culture affects health care needs of Native elders.

The Nurse Managed Center (NMC) is a grant funded partnership which includes SCSU and a private liberal arts baccalaureate nursing program. Students have rewarding experiences collaborating with a variety of faith-based groups, community agencies on aging, senior groups, volunteers, and parish nurses who are providing social and emotional support services and referrals for older adults and their caregivers. Students also assist with caregiver training in cooperation with the Alzheimer's association. At the NMC, students learn about the complex and tenuous situations that older adults and their families face when health deteriorates and their struggle to stay independent rather than go to a nursing home. Experiences in these settings provide the foundation for on-going clinical learning in subsequent nursing courses including leadership and the capstone practicum. Students learn about healthy aging through assessment, therapeutic communication and relationship building during home visits with community-dwelling older adults. In addition, students have four clinical days with acutely ill older adults on an orthopedic surgical unit. They assist with discharge teaching and planning and make a follow-up visit where they learn the importance of incorporating information about the family and home environment during this transition phase. Another clinical experience occurs at the St. Cloud Veteran's Administration Medical Center. Students rotate through the Adult Day Health Care Program, the Primary Care Clinic, and the Extended Care Unit where students encounter older male veterans with multiple, complex psychosocial and physical health problems. These combined clinical opportunities provide comprehensive learning of the essential knowledge and skill related to quality care of older adults.

Replication: Creating innovative partnerships with a variety of clinical agencies across multiple care settings is possible and can be developed to reflect the unique needs of the community served by the nursing program. It requires energetic faculty who are not only dedicated to quality student learning, but who are committed to making a difference in the health and well-being of older adults in their communities. These experiences have been exciting and rewarding for faculty, students, agency partners, older adults and their families. Pairing faculty who have different areas of expertise related to older adults is valuable in designing courses and in developing creative learning opportunities in various clinical settings.

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