West Central Initiative receives grant to address regional geriatric nursing shortageWest Central Initiative (WCI) has been chosen as one of 19 foundations nationwide to receive funding from Partners Investing in Nursing’s Future, a national initiative led by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Northwest Health Foundation to help address the long-term shortage of available nurses across the country.
West Central Initiative (WCI) has been chosen as one of 19 foundations nationwide to receive funding from Partners Investing in Nursing’s Future, a national initiative led by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Northwest Health Foundation to help address the long-term shortage of available nurses across the country.
WCI was awarded $192,241 for its “Building Faculty Capacity in Geriatric Nursing for Central Minnesota” project. It aims to increase the number of competent registered nurses providing nursing care to elderly persons in a variety of settings in west central and central Minnesota.
WCI is collaborating with the Central Minnesota Academic Health Education Center and the University of Minnesota School of Nursing’s Hartford Center of Geriatric Nursing Excellence to design and implement the program.
“The population [in west central and central Minnesota] between 60 and 85-plus years of age will grow by 25 percent, or nearly 12,000 people, from 2005 to 2015,” said Nate Dorr, regional labor market analyst for the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).
Dorr explained that within a 20-year span, the numbers are even more dramatic, showing a 64 percent increase, or just over 30,000 people, from 2005 to 2025.
The need for RNs who are highly trained in geriatric care is not just critical, it’s urgent, said Dorr.
DEED’s studies also estimate that from 2004 to 2014 more than 3,000 health care jobs could be added in west central and central Minnesota alone, with a large portion of these focusing on care for the elderly.
From the aches and pains of stiffening joints to serious health complications, nurses need to be trained to handle all the needs of an aging population with skill and compassion.
The primary strategy of the Building Faculty Capacity in Geriatric Nursing project is to help regional schools of nursing have an intentional focus on geriatric nursing in their curriculum.
“We’re planning a ‘grow your own’ approach to nursing workforce development by increasing the number of faculty in west central and central Minnesota with expertise in teaching geriatric nursing,” said Christine Mueller, associate professor and chair of the University of Minnesota School of Nursing’s Adult and Gerontological Health Cooperative. Mueller is developing the curriculum for the project.
“A key factor in exciting nursing students about a career working with the elderly is ensuring they have diverse and exemplary geriatric-focused clinical experiences,” she said. “Through the grant, we’ll be able to offer workshops to faculty from the schools of nursing in the region, and to representatives from health care organizations, who will help co-create these great clinical experiences for students.”
“What’s exciting about this project is that it puts attention on geriatrics, and that’s never been a big focus in nursing programs,” said Chere Rikimoto, administrator/CEO of Traverse Care Center in Wheaton.
Rikimoto pointed out that geriatric nursing skills are needed in nearly every health care setting, from clinics to hospital medical-surgical units.
“Nurses and nursing programs have often thought the only place you can use your complete skill set is in a hospital. That’s just not the case. RNs in a care center, home health or assisted living setting are doing assessments on a daily basis because there’s no doctor on duty. They are involved in complete care,” she said. “Schools of nursing see the need and realize it’s time to change.”
Partners Investing in Nursing’s Future is in its fourth year providing support to local foundations to act as catalysts in their own communities and develop strategies for creating and sustaining a viable nursing workforce. These foundations have forged local partnerships to apply for the competitive grant, raising awareness of the nursing shortage in their own communities.
For more information about Partners Investing in Nursing’s Future, go to www.PartnersinNursing.org.
Additional funding partners for the Building Faculty Capacity in Geriatric Nursing for Central Minnesota project include Minnesota Area Health Education Center, Lake Region Healthcare Corporation, Frank W. Veden Charitable Trust, Minnesota Area Geriatric Education Center (MAGEC), MAGEC Central, The Initiative Foundation, Care Ventures, Otter Tail County Public Health, Wilkin County Public Health, West Central Initiative and an anonymous private donor.