More nurses need better training to care for older Americans, according to director of new UCSF center

Although there has been an enormous increase in the number of Americans 65 and older in the past century (from 3.1 million in 1900 to over 34 million in 2000), many nurses have little or no education or training in gerontological nursing or chronic disease management, according to Jeanie Kayser Jones, RN, PhD, UCSF professor of physiological nursing and medical anthropology and director of a new center in the UCSF School of Nursing.

One way to improve nursing care is to be sure there are enough doctorally-prepared gerontological nurses in academic settings to educate the next generation of nurses. Kayser-Jones explained that in the United States, there are about 15,000 nurses with doctorate degrees in nursing. Less than five percent of these nurses (750) have training in gerontological nursing.

The UCSF School of Nursing has received a $1.3 million, five-year grant from the John A. Hartford Foundation to establish a Center for Gerontological Nursing Excellence. The UCSF center (one of five selected sites) will prepare gerontological nurse scientists to provide academic leadership in teaching, research and patient care.

"Our health care system has been slow to respond to the needs of older people, and nurses who provide a substantial amount of care to older people are in short supply. What this means is that there are very few nurses who have been adequately trained to provide care to this rapidly growing population," she said. "The academicians we train at the center will be responsible for educating future nurses and conducting research to alleviate many of the problems that older, chronically ill people face each day." Much of that education and research will be conducted in partnership with the UCSF schools of medicine, dentistry, pharmacy and faculty members in the social and behavioral sciences who have expertise in gerontology. "Aging is a complex process that requires solutions from a variety of disciplines," said Kayser-Jones.


Contact: Maureen McInaney
University of California - San Francisco

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