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Phillip Clark, director of URI’s Geriatric Education Center, and Barbara Clements, a nurse practitioner who participated in a recent series of seminars at the Center.

Geriatric Education Center expands with $2 million grant

Since 1996, the Rhode Island Geriatric Education Center has provided continuing education programs for more than 700 nurses, doctors, pharmacists, social workers and other health care professionals around the state.

Now with the aid of a five-year, $2.16 million U.S. Department of Health and Human Services grant, the URI-based center is expanding its programs to southeastern Massachusetts, all of Connecticut, and Native American tribes to become the premiere interdisciplinary geriatric training program in southern New England.

Founded with a $689,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the center’s focus has been to teach health care professionals to work in teams so that quality of care is improved, which in turn results in a better quality of life for seniors. Geriatric Education Centers exist at 45 other sites across the country. The Rhode Island center is the only one based at a public university in New England.

The center brings together the URI Colleges of Nursing, Pharmacy, Human Sciences and Services and the Program in Gerontology, the Rhode Island College School of Social Work, the Brown Medical School and Aging 2000.

“The geriatric education center is a great example of collaboration among departments and across colleges at the University of Rhode Island, among institutions of higher education in Rhode Island, and between universities, the state and community-based agencies,” said W. Lynn McKinney, dean of URI’s College of Human Science and Services, which oversees the gerontology program.

“The center has established a firm foundation for the enhanced visibility of geriatric education across the state, and is relied on for expertise in geriatric education by a number of professional organizations, governmental departments, and health and human service provider agencies,” said center Director Phillip G. Clark, URI professor and director of the Program in Gerontology.

“But now we are going to be able to expand our curriculum at URI, offer professional development to a wider area, and provide teleconferencing to areas like Cape Cod,” Clark said.

The grant also allows the center to bring its customized programs to long-term care facilities, hospitals, and home health agencies in other parts of New England.

The center will continue to offer its highly successful 42-hour workshop-based program, the Certificate of Interdisciplinary Practice in Geriatrics. It will also enhance its impact by developing partnerships in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut to offer customized training on site. It will continue to support a highly successful Kids Into Health Careers program, designed to attract high school students from disadvantaged backgrounds to health careers in gerontology and geriatrics.

By Dave Lavallee

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