The aging of the U.S. population poses one of the greatest challenges for health care. Nurses play a central role in providing essential care for the geriatric population and must be well-equipped to care for older adults. However, the preparation of nurses to care for the elderly is may be inadequate to meet current and future need. The Institute of Medicine notes that Advanced Practice Nurses care for a disproportionate number of senior patients as 23% of office visits and 47% of hospital outpatient visits made by senior adults are with NPs (WHAT/WHO GOES WITH 2008). All major stakeholding groups concur that an interprofessional approach to geriatric care is essential for achieving optimum health outcomes, yet the professional preparation of FNPs and other care providers is not designed to equip students with the competencies to collaborate across professional roles.

In response to these trends and regional needs, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga designed the PACT 4 Interprofessional Geriatric Care: Providing Advanced, Culturally Competent Care through Clinical Training for Interprofessional Geriatric Care. The proposed PACT 4 Interprofessional Geriatric Care program seeks to enhance advanced nursing education and practice by engaging Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) students, along with other graduate health care science students, in shared, complex clinical learning opportunities using technology, simulation, and standardized patients to support meaningful interprofessional learning. The purpose of the project is to enhance advanced nursing education to prepare FNP students for safe and effective delivery of primary, acute, and emergent care and effectively working within interprofessional teams of health and other care providers to maximize geriatric patient safety and quality of care.

The program will have a regional impact by building on UTC’s established partnerships institutions of higher education and clinical sites region-wide. The project is aligned to (1) enhance complex learning in nursing education and practice in advanced practice nursing & interprofessional programs in the region and (2) enhance the FNP workforce to implement best practices for geriatric care and promote patient safety by working in interprofessional teams within diverse health care settings serving the geriatric population. PACT Coalition for Interprofessional Learning will use a technology enhanced learning environment and virtual learning as well as community-based Interprofessional experiential learning opportunities. As a mid-sized major regional university, UTC is in a unique position to demonstrate how even institutions that do not have a full complement of health professions degree programs can establish a strong interprofessional education program that impacts workforce preparation and health outcomes.

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