New Leadership Training Program Helps Hospitals Improve Geriatric Care a Stepping Stone to the Nationally Recognized NICHE Program

The Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing at NYU College of Nursing has established a new Leadership Training Program for hospitals that seek to improve the care they provide to older adults. The Leadership Training Program is an entryway to joining the national NICHE (Nurses Improving Care for Health-System Elders) program-in which 285 hospitals participate. Beginning in February 2010, hospitals interested in becoming NICHE sites may participate in this rigorous program.

NICHE was developed to help hospitals meet the challenges of an aging hospitalized population. The NICHE program offers hospitals a number of modules, tools, and evidence-based resources to help them make system-wide changes to improve care of older adults.

“Older adults comprise more than 50 percent of hospital admissions, and nearly all nurses care for older adults in their practices. Yet, many nurses have not received formal training in care of older adults and in the way that their symptoms and response to treatment differ from those of younger adults,” says Marie Boltz, PhD, RN, GNP-BC, practice director for the Hartford Institute.

The flexible, affordable, and comprehensive six-week Web-based Leadership Training Program is conducted at the worksite, saving hospitals substantial time and money. Participating hospitals must commit to enrolling a minimum of three staff members in the training program. These people constitute the initial steering committee for the NICHE initiative: a nurse clinician leader, a clinical educator, and an administrator or manager. In addition, direct care staff and staff of other disciplines (including medical, rehabilitation, social work, or pharmacy) may participate. Participants earn 38 contact hours of continuing education credit.

Participants spend approximately six hours per week in the six-week Leadership Training Program. The curriculum consists of three two-week stages, each containing several modules, culminating in an action plan for the hospital to become a NICHE site. Educational components of the training include:

  • Streamed media presentations featuring national leaders in geriatric care, including NICHE implementers.
  • Interactive learning modules addressing NICHE models, staff development, clinical practice, and evaluation, based on core principles from the 2009 NICHE Implementation and Planning Guide and the Evidence Based Geriatric Nursing Protocols for Best Practice text.
  • Live webinars and online group discussions facilitated by expert NICHE faculty.
  • Practice-based assignments that focus on developing a vision for geriatric care, strategic planning, and identifying clinical and operational priorities for NICHE implementation.

Site coordinators may choose to deliver the entire training in a group setting or assign modules to individuals to complete on their own, reconvening for group activities such as live Webinars and action-plan development. Upon completion of the program and action plan, each participating site receives NICHE designation.

By participating in the Leadership Training Institute, each site receives the Geriatric Institutional Profile (GIAP) at no cost-a $3,800 value. The GIAP is an online, self administered survey assessing hospital readiness to implement geriatric programs. The GIAP measures nurse knowledge and attitudes toward older adults as well as the organizational attributes that support or constrain geriatric best practices. The results, which are benchmarked against other hospitals, assist in prioritizing new educational and clinical initiatives.

For more information and registration requirements for Leadership Training Program beginning in February 2010, write to

The goal of NICHE is to achieve systematic nursing change that will benefit hospitalized older patients. The vision of NICHE is for all patients 65 and over to be given sensitive and exemplary care. The mission of NICHE is to import principles and tools to stimulate a change in the culture of healthcare facilities to achieve patient-centered care for older adults.

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Christopher James
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