Health AGEnda

Going to College

Effective June 30, 2012, the Hartford-funded Building Academic Geriatric Nursing Capacity (BAGNC) Initiative will be moving.

BAGNC was born and raised at the American Academy of Nursing, where it has thrived for 12 years. The evidence lies in the over 200 gero-focused pre- and post-doctoral nursing students who have taught close to 33,000 students, received over $74 million in funding, and published over 1,300 articles on the care of older adults.

The Academy’s President, Joanne Disch, positively reflects on those years. “We are certainly proud of the role that the American Academy of Nursing has played in the development of the many Scholars and Fellows who now have the knowledge and skills to impact the quality of care delivered to our nation’s elders,” she explains.

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Hitchhiking with Dr. Archbold

It seems like only yesterday that I met Dr. Pat Archbold, and it is not without a pang of sadness that I must here announce that as of December 31, 2011, she will be stepping down as the director of our Hartford Building Academic Geriatric Nursing Capacity (BAGNC) Initiative housed at the American Academy of Nursing.

Six years ago I took a long walk down a dirt road with Pat Archbold and Patty Franklin, then BAGNC program manager, on the grounds of the Aspen Institute Wye River Conference Center. It was during the NIA Summer Institute nursing preconference, which was organized by Dr. Taylor Harden. I was a new program officer, Pat had recently taken over the leadership of the BAGNC Initiative, and we were brainstorming our first major effort together–a 2005 renewal of the Initiative. One couldn’t ask for a better setting for long walks and serious conversation. We were very far from our rooms when the summer sky gathered its clouds and burst. Without umbrellas or gear, without anywhere to take cover, we were drenched in an instant.

A pickup truck came rolling down the road, and Pat suggested we catch a ride. The driver kindly stopped, and we climbed into the bed of the truck. I will forever cherish the memory of sitting in the bed of that pickup truck in the pouring rain with Pat Archbold.

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Improving Mental Health Nursing Care for Older Adults

Older adults suffer from mental health problems at greater rates than younger adults, particularly the three “Ds”: depression, dementia, and delirium. Yet there are very few geropsychiatric nurses in the United States and no formal credentialing for the field. To address this gap in our health care system, the John A. Hartford Foundation has supported the American Academy of Nursing’s Geropsychiatric Nursing Collaborative. The goal of the initiative is to improve the quality of mental health care provided to older adults by enhancing the knowledge and skills of nurses. To do this, the Hartford Geropsychiatric Nursing Collaborative has created and disseminated core geropsychiatric competencies and curricular materials tailored to all levels of nursing education.

Last month, Medscape Medical News interviewed Lois Evans, PhD, RN—one of the Geropsychiatric Nursing Collaborative’s principal investigators (along with Kathleen Buckwalter, PhD, RN and Cornelia Beck, PhD, RN)—about available resources to improve mental health nursing for older adults. You can read the interview here with a free registration on Medscape. An additional geropsych resource of note is a recent webinar hosted by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing in partnership with the Geropsychiatric Nursing Collaborative on how to utilize their resources and infuse geropsychiatric content into nursing curricula. Information is available here, with a recording of the webinar soon to follow.

Anyone with an interest in geropsychiatric resources should check out not only the interview and webinar, but also the extensive collection of geropsychiatric nursing curriculum materials available on POGOe, the Portal of Online Geriatric Education. The more nurses we reach, the more we can improve mental health care of older adults.

Now Hear (and See and Use) This: New Geropsychiatric Nursing Video

Here are two truths:

About 1 in 5 older adults (7.5 million) currently has a diagnosable mental disorder such as depression or dementia, and this number is expected to reach 15 million by 2030.

The nation’s 3 million registered nurses represent the largest segment of the professional health care workforce providing care for older adults.

This reality makes the work of geropsychiatric nurses invaluable.  Yet, despite this need, only 16% of psychiatric nurses have subspecialty preparation in geriatrics.

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Nurses on the Edge

I’m extraordinarily proud to announce that the American Academy of Nursing (AAN) has nominated Hartford grantee Dr. Carol Farran, DNSc, RN, FAAN, and Dr. Ellen L. Brown, EdD, MS, ARNP, RN, to the roster of Edge Runners in its Raise the Voice campaign.  Edge Runners are nurses who lead the way in creating innovative interventions and care models that improve clinical and financial outcomes for many of our most vexing health care challenges. Raise the Voice, a campaign funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is a platform from which the nursing community can press for new thinking in health care reform. Edge Runners serve as real-world examples of new thinking in action.

Since 2007, Raise the Voice has accepted 45 Edge Runner applications. Encouraged to apply by the Hartford Geropsychiatric Nursing Collaborative, Drs. Farran and Brown are among the first Edge Runners showcased since Governor Edward Rendell (PA) succeeded Donna Shalala as advisory council chair in May.

Dr. Farran received the honor for her leadership in developing the Caregiver Skill Building Intervention (CSBI) at Rush University. Many family caregivers of those suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementias are more vulnerable to developing their own health problems because of advanced age, stress, and sedentary lifestyle. CSBI seeks to improve the mental and physical health of these caregivers through behavioral health promotion interventions.

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Happy 10th Anniversary, BAGNC!

This blog represents the kickoff of our 10th anniversary celebration for Hartford’s Building Academic Geriatric Nursing Capacity (BAGNC) initiative. This initiative, founded in 2000, includes a geriatric nurse scholars and fellows program, nine Hartford Centers of Geriatric Nursing Excellence throughout the country, and a coordinating center housed at the American Academy of Nursing under the dedicated leadership of Dr. Patricia Archbold and Program Manager Patricia Franklin. If outcomes and leadership are any measure, BAGNC has proven a phenomenal success story.

Consider, for example, Chip Bailey, RN, PhD. Although applying for the BAGNC Claire M. Fagin postdoctoral fellowship wasn’t originally his idea—a mentor, Professor Emerita Meridean Maas of the University of Iowa, emphatically “encouraged” him to apply—he quickly realized it was an excellent opportunity. He took advantage of the gero-expert nurse researchers available through BAGNC , eventually lining up five mentors. The financial support and excellent mentoring afforded by the program allowed him to focus on his research on the psycho-social consequences for prostate cancer and hepatitis C patients assigned to “watchful waiting” rather than immediate treatment. In addition, Chip served as a role model in the classroom. He developed and taught a gerontological nursing course recognized by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing as the best in the country in 2004.

Chip is now an associate professor at the School of Nursing at Duke University, awaiting a tenure decision. He calls his BAGNC award a “gift,” and he continues to share that gift with others by stepping into the mentor’s role for both a Claire M. Fagin Fellow and a BAGNC predoctoral scholar and by encouraging other promising students to apply for a BAGNC award. An upcoming report featuring Chip and other BAGNC stars will be available in November 2010, written by the external evaluation team of the Hartford Geriatric Nursing Initiative led by Dr. Shoshanna Sofaer at Baruch College.

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