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OHSU Nursing Student Awarded Scholarship To Help Expand Geriatric Training for Nurses

Scholarship Awarded by the John A. Hartford Foundation and Jonas Center for Nursing Excellence

The John A. Hartford Foundation and the Jonas Center for Nursing Excellence have awarded OHSU Ph.D. nursing student Lyndsey Miller with a two-year scholarship to further her nursing education in gerontology. The purpose of the scholarships, provided by the Jonas Nurse Leaders Scholar Program, is to ensure that all nurses are prepared to care for the country’s rapidly aging population. In all, nine doctoral candidates with a specialty in geriatric nursing were awarded scholarships this year, one at each of the Hartford Centers of Geriatric Nursing Excellence (CGNE).  

OHSU is honored to be one of nine Hartford centers in the United States recognized and funded by The John A. Hartford Foundation. OHSU’s Hartford Center is dedicated to preparing nurse leaders to meet the challenges of caring for the aging population through the integration of practice, education, research and policy. Theresa A. Harvath, Ph.D., R.N., C.N.S., F.A.A.N., director of the OHSU Hartford Center, describes building academic geriatric capacity as core business at OHSU.

“Our center strives to increase geriatric nursing capacity through the training and mentoring of students who will become the faculty and leaders in geriatric nursing in the future. These efforts have the potential to improve the quality of life and quality of care of older adults and their families,” Harvath said.

The Jonas scholars will use their awards to pursue the goal of becoming academic geriatric nurses, nurse educators who train other nurses how to work with geriatric patients. The training will specifically focus on geriatric mental health or community-based care for older adults. The program reflects a shared commitment by the Hartford Foundation and the Jonas Center for Nursing Excellence to address the nation’s accelerating nursing shortage through faculty development.

"I am incredibly grateful to the Jonas Center for Nursing Excellence and the John A. Hartford Foundation,” said Miller. “They are both dynamic organizations, so the fact that they have joined forces on this scholarship gives me great hope for the future of geriatric nursing. Nurses comprise the majority of health care professionals in the United States. In to order respond to the distinct and growing health needs of older adults, we will require more specialized training in geriatrics. As a future nurse scientist and educator, the additional experiences I gain as a result of this scholarship will help me lead the way."

As a Ph.D. nursing student, Lyndsey’s research will focus on the behavioral symptoms of Alzheimer's disease and other progressive degenerative dementias, particularly those that contribute to the frequent perception and labeling of patients with dementia as “difficult.”

“I am specifically interested in evaluating nursing interventions for symptoms such as agitation, resistance to care and wandering among people with Alzheimer's disease. I believe these symptoms are not always recognized as such, and that there is an opportunity to increase awareness and improve care of patients with dementia.”
After completing her Ph.D. in nursing at OHSU, Lyndsey intends to apply for a teaching position in order to prepare other nurses to provide high-quality care for older adults. She also plans to conduct geriatric nursing research, and to represent the health concerns of older adults as an active participant in the health policy debate.
“With so many nursing students being turned away because of a lack of faculty, we wanted to focus on encouraging doctoral programs. That’s the key ingredient for this problem,” said Donald Jonas, co-founder and co-chair of the Advisory Board to the Jonas Center for Nursing Excellence. “Hartford is the leader that sets the pace for everybody in this field, and we are thrilled to work with them on a project of such importance to our geriatric population.”
“Given our demographics, we urgently need more gero-focused nursing faculty to prepare a health care workforce for the 21st century,” said Rachael Watman, M.S.W., senior program officer for the John A. Hartford Foundation. “This partnership builds on the geriatrics expertise of our Hartford Centers of Geriatric Nursing Excellence and the strategic vision of the Jonas Center to support nursing faculty. The field of nursing, and ultimately, the health care of older adults will benefit as a result.”

The Jonas Nurse Leaders Scholar Program will provide stipends of $32,000 distributed over two years, with funding coming from the Jonas Center and the Hartford-funded Building Academic Geriatric Nursing Capacity (BAGNC) coordinating center, housed at the American Academy of Nursing. Scholars will also receive extensive mentoring and leadership training as part of the annual BAGNC Leadership Conference. The BAGNC coordinating center will provide administrative oversight for the program.

“Older adults will be the primary focus of our health care system for decades to come,” said Patricia Archbold, D.N.Sc., R.N., program director of BAGNC. “By supporting the development of faculty with geriatrics expertise, the Jonas Nurse Leaders Scholar Program and Hartford are tackling one of the most pressing health care issues of our times.”

About the John A. Hartford Foundation

Founded in 1929, the John A. Hartford Foundation is a committed champion of health care training, research, and service system innovations that will ensure the well-being and vitality of older adults. Its overall goal is to increase the nation’s capacity to provide effective, affordable care to its rapidly increasing older population. Today, the Foundation is America’s leading philanthropy with a sustained interest in aging and health.

About the Jonas Center for Nursing Excellence

Founded in February of 2006, the Jonas Center for Nursing Excellence is supported by the Barbara and Donald Jonas Family Fund. Its mission is to advance professional nursing through grant making and programs that improve nurse recruitment and retention, increase ethnic and racial diversity among the nursing workforce, advance innovative practice models, and improve practice settings in New York City.

About the American Academy of Nursing

The American Academy of Nursing anticipates and tracks national and international trends in health care, while addressing resulting issues of health care knowledge and policy. The Academy’s mission is to serve the public and nursing profession by advancing health policy and practice through the generation, synthesis, and dissemination of nursing knowledge.

Additional Media Contacts:

Regine Dunne, Program Officer                    
Jonas Center for Nursing Excellence               
(212) 609-1583                                     

Rachael Watman, Senior Program Officer
John A. Hartford Foundation
(212) 832-7788

Patty Franklin, BAGNC Program Manager
American Academy of Nursing
(202) 777-1172

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