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Release: Nov. 15, 2002

Photo: Pictured (from left to right) are Kathleen Ann Long, AACN president; Paula Mobily, UI associate professor of nursing; Melanie Dreher, dean of UI College of Nursing; and Terry Fulmer, co-director of Hartford Foundation for Geriatric Nursing

Nursing College gets national award for gerontology curriculum

The John A. Hartford Foundation Institute for Geriatric Nursing, in collaboration with the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), has announced the winners of the 2002 Awards for Exceptional Baccalaureate Curriculum in Gerontologic Nursing. Presented at AACN's fall meeting, awards were given to three schools of nursing: first place to Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center; second place to the University of Iowa College of Nursing; and honorable mention to Southeastern Louisiana University.

"We are proud to honor three universities this year for their innovative approaches to preparing nurses with the education needed to provide quality geriatric care," said Mathy Mezey, Ed.D., professor of nursing education and director of the Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing.
"I encourage nursing schools across the country to look to the 2002 winners as strong examples of what can be done to improve nursing care for older adults."

Now in its fifth year, this national awards program was created to recognize model baccalaureate programs in nursing with a strong focus on gerontological nursing. Awards are presented to nursing programs that exhibit exceptional, substantive and innovative baccalaureate curriculum in this subject area. Beyond innovation, programs must also demonstrate relevance in the clinical environment and have the ability to be replicated at schools of nursing across the country.

Paula Mobily, Ph.D., associate professor of nursing, accepted the award on behalf of the UI. Mobily, along with UI college of Nursing colleagues Janet Specht, Ph.D., associate professor, Deb Schoenfelder, PhD, associate professor (clinical), and Sheryl Miller Thomas, lecturer, led the revision and implementation of the curriculum.

"In the interest of better serving our aging population, U.S. nursing schools are moving to adapt curriculum and add coursework to better prepare the nursing workforce to care for older adults," explained AACN President Kathleen Ann Long, Ph.D. "We are delighted to join with the Hartford Institute in honoring curriculum leaders and sharing these winning models with the world."

All curricula at the UI are based on holistic healthcare, developmental aging and the needs of individuals and communities of people within the context of an increasing proportion of older people in the population. Although age-related content and applications are integrated throughout the undergraduate curriculum, two courses, "Gerontologic Nursing" and "Gerontological Nursing Practicum," are dedicated entirely to the nursing care of older persons.

The courses are based on the Hartford Institute-recommended content and expose students to the exciting challenges and opportunities throughout the breadth, depth and complexity of gerontologic nursing. By choosing electives in other aging courses, a number of students also receive an interdisciplinary Aging Studies certificate at graduation.

"The curriculum responds to the immediate need for nurses with geriatric training and to the need for more nurses with advanced training for academic, research and practice careers," said Meridean Maas, Ph.D., Sally Mathis Hartwig Professor and director of the John A. Hartford Center of Geriatric Excellence. "We're hoping students will see how exciting it can be to work in geriatric care."

In addition to those who led the curriculum changes, other UI College of Nursing representatives recognized by the award include Maas; Keela Herr, PhD, professor and chair of the college's Adult and Gerontology Area of Study; Melanie Dreher, Ph.D., Kelting Dean and professor; M. Patricia Donahue, Ph.D., professor and executive associate dean; and Toni Tripp-Reimer, Ph.D., professor and associate dean for research and scholarship.