Townsend participates in innovative geriatric development program
Deb Townsend, MSU assistant professor of nursing, attended the Faculty Learning About Geriatrics summer institute at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus in early Aug. The yearlong FLAG program, offered by the Minnesota Hartford Center of Geriatric Nursing Excellence, enhances geriatric nursing knowledge and resources to better prepare future nursing care for the rapidly growing elderly population. Townsend joined representatives from 24 schools, universities and tribal colleges from across the country.
"The FLAG experience was very enlightening for me. In addition to all of the expertise in geriatric nursing, I was also able to learn many new teaching and learning skills from experts," Townsend said. "I am planning on a project to develop clinical experiences for nursing students in the 'Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing' course. I will work closely with a mentor on my project."
Adults aged 65 years and older are expected to almost double, from 37 million to over 70 million between 2005 and 2020, an increase from 12 to almost 20 percent of the U.S. population. According to a 2008 report from the Institute of Medicine, the number of older patients with complex health needs will outpace the number of health care providers with the knowledge and skill to care for them. The FLAG program strives to ease the projected health care worker shortage.
Faculty members from associate and higher degree nursing programs are eligible to apply to become a FLAG fellow. Annually, fellows attend a one-week summer institute at U of M, followed by a yearlong mentorship around a specific geriatric nursing educational project. The program provides learning experiences and resources related to teaching and evaluation, including use of technology-enhanced learning strategies, geriatric nursing, academic leadership and informatics.