|Nursing professor participates in geriatric education program|
Karen Semmens, clinical instructor in the College of Nursing, was one of 20 individuals selected to be a Fellow and participate in the first Faculty Learning About Geriatrics (FLAG) program. The program, sponsored by the University of Minnesota School of Nursing's Minnesota Hartford Center of Geriatric Nursing Excellence (MnHCGNE), was held in early August.
The program is designed to further educate nursing faculty from the Upper Midwest who do not have extensive geriatric nursing expertise in order to better prepare the nursing workforce to care for the rapidly growing elderly population. The FLAG Program aims to educate and increase awareness of geriatric care by integrating gerontology into nursing curricula at undergraduate and graduate levels.
"Opportunities to develop knowledge about educating faculty regarding geriatrics are rare," states Semmens. "To be in the presence of such gifted and talented instructors and participants was humbling. It was an honor to be a part of the initial FLAG program. I left the program with an extensive framework on ways to incorporate geriatrics into our nursing curriculum."
Current estimates suggest that 50 million residents, or 17 percent of the U.S. population, are at least 60 years of age (U.S. Census Bureau, 2006a). More importantly, the leading edge of the baby-boom generation, those born between 1946 and 1964, turned age 60 in 2006. Nearly two-thirds of North Dakota's 39 rural counties have 20 percent or more of their population base 65 years of age or older, and that proportion is expected to jump by at least 10 percent by 2020.
"As individuals age in North Dakota, there is a growing need for advanced practice nurses to specialize in geriatric health care", states Loretta Heuer, Semmens' department chair. "The College is thrilled that Karen was selected to participate in FLAG program. Her expertise will be used to strengthen the geriatric content in graduate and undergraduate courses so the nursing workforce is well prepared to care for the aging population in North Dakota."
The FLAG program includes attendees from the Upper Midwest Geriatric Nursing Education Alliance, which includes nurse educators from Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota, Wisconsin, and tribal colleges in the Midwest, doctoral nursing students, and advanced practice nurses. It provides learning experiences that involve evidence-based teaching strategies for geriatric content development and clinical experiences, the implementation of geriatric nursing education projects, and inter-professional collaboration in gerontology education.