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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

URI College of Nursing Professor awarded $90,000
grant to enhance gerontological education

KINGSTON, R.I. -- March 27, 2002 -- A University of Rhode Island College of Patricia BurbankNursing professor has been awarded a $90,000 federal grant to enhance the geriatrics education of faculty and students in the undergraduate program.

With 14.5 percent of Rhode Island’s population over the age of 65, geriatrics education is essential to URI’s College of Nursing. The older adult population is the fastest growing demographic group in the state. Projections show that the elderly will make up 20 percent of the country’s population by the year 2030.

Patricia Burbank of Coventry was awarded the three-year grant by the John A. Hartford Foundation in the fall. Through its grants, the Hartford Foundation seeks to enhance and expand the training of doctors, nurses, social workers and other health professionals who care for older adults, and promote innovations in the integration and delivery of services for all older Americans.

"The Hartford Foundation funded 20 baccalaureate-nursing schools nationwide to develop model programs to enhance education in nursing for older adults. Schools awarded grants will then share their experiences with other nursing programs in the country and help them adapt to the strategies we found to be successful," said Burbank.

"The needs of older adults are the most complicated because they have the highest prevalence of diseases and the most complex medical treatment regimens," said Burbank. "Nurses are central to the success of delivery of high quality health care to this population group."

The grant will fund changes in the nursing curriculum to include the many elements of caring for the older patients, such as:

  • Integrating a strong focus on the care of older adults;

  • Emphasizing end-of-life nursing care;

  • Collaborating with ethnically diverse older adults in settings such as prisons, homeless shelters, drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers and veterans groups.

The grant will also provide faculty with theoretical knowledge and clinical mentoring through training offered by the Rhode Island Geriatric Education Center, based at URI. It will increase the availability of computer-assisted instruction and web-based resource information. Faculty will in turn be able to make students more aware of the critical needs of older adults and help them become more sensitive to their challenges.

"I think it's wonderful for the interdisciplinary Geriatric Education Center to begin working with URI nursing faculty. This will encourage nursing students to work collaboratively with students and providers from other health professional backgrounds in caring for older adults," said Phillip G. Clark, URI professor and director of the Rhode Island Geriatric Education Center.

"This grant gives us the resources to focus on developing an excellent model program in nursing education in gerontology," said Burbank. "It will enable our College of Nursing to be known for its excellence in gerentological nursing education. Our graduates will be well prepared to care for the rapidly increasing numbers of older adults in the areas of prevention, health promotion, complex health issues, and end-of-life care."

For Information: Dave Lavallee, 401-874-5862, Sarah Emmett, 401-874-2116

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