Effort to “Gerontologize” the Nursing Profession Has Had a Significant Impact

The 10th anniversary celebration of The John A. Hartford Foundation Institute for Geriatric Nursing was celebrated Thursday, February 8, 2007, at the New York Marriott Financial Center Hotel. With 150 guests in attendance, the founders, staff, and supporters acknowledged a decade-long effort that has made significant progress in enhancing nursing care for older adults nationwide through programs that focus on education, practice, research, and public education.

The event, called “Celebrating Our Partners,” was an appreciation-at times moving; at times humorous-of the many individuals and organizations that have embraced and carried forth the Institute’s ambitious mission. Partners from nursing and geriatric associations, nurse experts, hospitals, and the media were all celebrated. In addition, recognition was given to nursing programs nationally and all of their committed faculty.

In her keynote address, Neville Strumpf, PhD, RN, FAAN, who heads the NYU College of Nursing Board of Advisors, said that the Institute’s accomplishments “exceed the expectations of most funders, whether public or private, and no doubt far surpass the dreams of anyone present at the inception of the Institute 10 years ago.”

The Hartford Institute was founded in 1996 at the NYU College of Nursing with the first of two $5 million grants from The John A. Hartford Foundation-the largest single foundation supporter of nursing in the United States. Amid a national nursing shortage and rapidly aging population, the Institute was established to shape the quality of health care older Americans receive by promoting the highest level of geriatric competence in all nurses.

Leading off the celebration, Institute Director Mathy Mezey, EdD, RN, FAAN, and co-directors Terry Fulmer, PhD, RN, FAAN, dean of the NYU College of Nursing, and Elizabeth Capezuti, PhD, RN, CRNP, FAAN, listed the Institute’s accomplishments and graciously acknowledged its supporters. Special thank-you’s were offered to the Institute’s National Board of Directors, chaired by Claire Fagin PhD, RN, FAAN. These speakers and Strumpf each acknowledged the pivotal role of The John A. Hartford Foundation in the Institute’s triumphs.

The Hartford Institute has succeeded by working with universities, hospitals, specialty nursing associations, the media, and many individuals to create and disseminate information about best practices in care to older adults. It has put geriatric health assessment information in the hands of hundreds of thousands of nurses; worked with 592 members of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing to provide their students and faculty with teaching materials on geriatric best practice; and reached the members of 55 specialty nursing associations with geriatric information relevant to their areas of expertise. The Institute has also developed the national NICHE program, in which 200 hospitals have committed to improving care for older adults through nursing, and has carried out the Scholars and Fellows Summer Research Seminar, which has boosted the careers of 127 emerging geriatric nurse researchers and led to more than $25 million in research funding.

Institute Director of Programs Elaine Gould lauded Mezey’s “incredible contributions to the field of geriatric nursing” and credited her with having established an extraordinary workplace that has been usually conducive to teamwork and problem-solving. She also acknowledged staff-past and present-who have been crucial to pursuing the Institute’s vision and direction.

Acknowledging that the specialty of geriatric nursing has existed for only 50 years, Strumpf emphasized the immense progress that has been made in the past decade. When the Hartford Institute was founded, attitudes toward geriatric-nursing careers were mainly negative, geriatric competencies for practicing nurses had not been established, geriatric resources were hard to find, and hospitals rarely saw the need to focus on their elderly populations, The Hartford Institute has made extraordinary strides in addressing and improving each of these areas.

“Now, instead of myriad but often disconnected efforts in geriatric nursing, the Institute provides a visible framework for the coalescence of a movement…. A sea change has occurred,” Strumpf said.

For a publications quality image: http://www.nyu.edu/public.affairs/images/photos/uploads/NYUCN_Hartford10th.jpg

Photo Caption: {L to R} Institute Director Mathy Mezey, EdD, RN, FAAN, together with College of Nursing Dean Terry Fulmer, PhD, RN, FAAN, and Elizabeth Capezuti, PhD, RN, CRNP, FAAN, who are its co-directors, graciously acknowledged the institute’s supporters.

The Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing seeks to shape the quality of health care that older Americans receive by promoting the highest level of geriatric competency in all nurses who deliver care. By raising the standards of nursing care, the Hartford Institute aims to ensure that people age in comfort and dignity. Its initiatives include education, practice, research, and policy.

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