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Goals of the Interprofessional Graduate Certificate Program in Gerontology

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the United States will experience rapid growth in its older population for the next 40 years. In 2050, the number of Americans aged 65 and older is projected to be 88.5 million, which is more than double its current population of 40.2 million in 2010. The baby boomers are largely responsible for this phenomenon. As of January 1, 2011, 10,000 Americans are turning 65 every day. The new cohort of older Americans is expected to be the most diverse in history. Increased longevity, more racial and ethnic diversity, greater educational achievement, and widely dispersed families will affect the health, housing, and financial needs of the older generation.1-3

In their 2008 report, Retooling for an Aging America: Building the Health Care Workforce, the Institute of Medicine stressed that the “health care workforce is too small” and is “critically unprepared” to meet the health needs of aging Americans. The IOM report emphasized that generalist practitioners from all health and human service fields need additional knowledge and skills to provide safe care for older adults. The report also called for use of interprofessional care teams for efficient delivery of the comprehensive, often highly complex, care that is needed by older adults and their caregivers.  A 2013 Institute of Medicine report, Interprofessional Education for Collaboration, offered encouragement for academic programs which bring students from different professions together to learn from, and with, each other. Each profession maintains its important and unique knowledge and perspective, but, through collaboration, the interprofessional team is able to provide a more comprehensive level of service to meet to the diverse and evolving needs of aging adults and their caregivers.4

The Maine Department of Labor projects a need for greater numbers of nurses, social workers, dieticians, speech language pathologists, physicians, and other health and human service providers in the coming decades. Because Maine is now ranked as the state with the oldest population (based on median age), there is a clear need for increased numbers of gerontologic specialists as well as generalist care providers who possess up-to-date knowledge, skills, and abilities in the care of older adults.

The goals of the UMaine Interprofessional Graduate Certificate Program in Gerontology are to:

  1.  Strengthen the knowledge, skills, and abilities of health and human service professionals for provision of effective, comprehensive care and services for older adults and their caregivers.
  2. Increase the number of individuals who select a career in the health and human service fields with specialization in the delivery of services for older adults.
  3. Prepare professionals from a variety of fields to function as members of interprofessional teams in the provision of services which enhance the lives of older adults and those who care for them.

 Upon completion of the Interprofessional Certificate Program in Gerontology, the graduate will:

  1.  Demonstrate knowledge of social, behavioral, cultural, and health-related issues experienced by the growing population of older adults and their caregivers.
  2. Promote health, functionality, and quality of life of older adults through education of individuals and families and through appropriate referrals to service providers.
  3. Incorporate ethical principles in the provision of services for older adults and their caregivers.
  4. Incorporate evidence-based strategies in assessing health and service needs and in designing care management plans for older adults and caregivers.
  5. Demonstrate understanding of an interprofessional team approach for efficient, innovative, and effective service delivery.
  6. Advocate for improved health and human services for older adults and their caregivers, grounded in knowledge of aging-related health policy and effective programs.

References

  1. U.S. Census Bureau (2010). The next four decades: The older population in the United States 2010-2050.  Washington, DC: U.S. Census Bureau.
  2. Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics. Older Americans 2010: Key indicator of well-being.  Washington, DC: U.S Government Printing Office.
  3. Institute of Medicine (2008). Retooling for an aging America: Building the health care workforce. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.
  4. Institute of Medicine (2013). Interprofessional Education for Collaboration.  Washington, DC: National Academies Press.