The federal Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) has awarded a $2.1 million grant to Saint Louis University to boost geriatrics educational programs. This is HRSA’s 20th consecutive year of funding to Saint Louis University, an established leader in geriatric medicine education, particularly in the Midwest. This $2.1 million grant will be dispersed over the next five years.
The funds will be used to create a Certificate of Gerontology program for health professionals who care for the elderly population. Many allied health programs have lacked sufficient training on working with the elderly, so this certificate program aims to fill that gap for professionals who are already working in their chosen fields with older adults, yet have not received formal training in gerontology.
An interdisciplinary team of faculty will teach the program, including faculty from allied health, public health, social work, nursing, and medicine, preparing students for the interdisciplinary teamwork required in the complex field of gerontology. This program is much needed as the need for geriatric care managers will dramatically increase over the next several years as the baby boomer generation reaches its senior years.
The grant will also fund education for health professionals in fall prevention. John Morley, M.D., Director of Geriatrics at Saint Louis University, says breaking a hip is the most serious consequence of falls among the elderly. “About 80% of those elderly adults who fracture a hip don’t completely recover and about 30% die within the first year of injury,” according to Saint Louis University’s article on the subject. Even those who remain unscathed may develop a fear of falling, which can result in social isolation.
Saint Louis University’s geriatrics program has been recognized by U.S. News and World Report, ranking 13th in the nation this year. The program has consistently been ranked in the top 20 for over ten years. Saint Louis University Hospital is ranked 21st in the nation in the field of geriatric care.
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