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Nursing Schools and Faculty Honored for Excellence in Geriatric Nursing Education

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Press Release
For Immediate Release

Nursing Schools and Faculty Honored for Excellence in Geriatric
Nursing Education at AACN’s Fall Meeting

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 7, 2008 - The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), in collaboration with The John A. Hartford Foundation Institute for Geriatric Nursing and New York University (NYU), is pleased to announce the winners of the 2008 Awards for Excellence in Gerontological Nursing Education. Awards were presented at AACN's recent Fall Semiannual Meeting to Harding University, University of Southern Indiana, Oregon Health and Science University, Illinois State University, and to Dr. Nancy Watson, faculty member at the University of Rochester.

“AACN is committed to advancing geriatric nursing education and improving the quality of health care,” said AACN President Dr. Fay Raines. “Together with the Hartford Institute and NYU, we proudly honor the educators who are making strides in preparing nurses to provide the best patient care possible for our country’s aging population.”

Now in its eleventh year, this national awards program recognizes nurse faculty and model baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs that encourage the highest standards of gerontological nursing education. Awards are presented to nursing programs with exceptional, substantive, and innovative curriculum in this subject area. Additionally, programs must demonstrate relevance in the clinical environment and the ability to be replicated at schools of nursing across the country. An award also is presented to a geriatric nursing faculty champion. This champion must display expertise in geriatric nursing practice, lead curricular innovation, and encourage students to pursue careers in this important field.

This year, a new award category was introduced to recognize schools of nursing that use collateral materials to display a positive image of older adults. Through Web site images, brochures, and other printed materials, the awarded school prominently represents older adults across the continuum of care and demonstrates that older adults are included in the full range of patient populations.

Awards were presented in four categories to the following:

  • Baccalaureate-Level Curricular Innovation
    Harding University College of Nursing (Arkansas)
    University of Southern Indiana College of Nursing and Health Professions
  • Advanced Practice-Level Curricular Innovation
    Oregon Health & Science University School of Nursing
  • Geriatric Nursing Faculty Champion
    Nancy M. Watson, PhD, RN, Founding Director, Elaine C. Hubbard Center for Nursing Research on Aging, University of Rochester School of Nursing
  • Outstanding School of Nursing Communications
    Mennonite College of Nursing at Illinois State University

To read more about this year’s award recipients, see the 2008 Winner Profiles listed below. For more information on AACN’s programs focused on geriatric nursing education, see

2008 Winner Profiles

Baccalaureate-Level Curricular Innovation Award

Harding University College of Nursing
Searcy, Arkansas
Dean: Cathleen Shultz, PhD, RN, CNE, FAAN

A holistic care framework (physical, psychological [emotional and cognitive], spiritual, and social) permeates all nursing courses and innovative teaching methods at Harding University College of Nursing. The college has a rich network of community partnerships, including a campus-based wellness clinic, an interdisciplinary gerontology content expert team, and collaborative relationships with community organizations. Competency and methodology implementation have proven to be replicable and supported by faculty development. Over 95% of graduating seniors reported improved attitudes toward the elderly and preparedness in elder care and advocacy. SON plans to refine gerontology course content and evaluate data collection tools and processes.

University of Southern Indiana College of Nursing and Health Professions
Evansville, Indiana
Faculty: B. Renee Dugger, MSN, RN
Dean: Nadine Coudret, EdD, RN

The redesign of the baccalaureate nursing program at the University of Southern Indiana College of Nursing and Health Professions involved integration of gerontology content throughout the curriculum and the development of a four-credit gerontology nursing clinical course. Utilizing evidence to guide development, creators of this required course offer students more broadly based clinical experiences. Designed to be engaging and interactive, and to enhance student empathy, the course incorporates use of tools and resources from the Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing Web site. The integration of gerontology content in other nursing courses is complementary and supportive of the stand-alone course. Faculty continually assesses the impact of these innovations.

Advanced-Practice-Level Curricular Innovation Award

Oregon Health & Science University School of Nursing
Portland, Oregon
Faculty: Theresa A. Harvath, PhD, RN, CNS
Dean: Michael Bleich, PhD, RN, FAAN

The Oregon Health & Science University School of Nursing, nationally known for its strength in practice-relevant gerontological nursing research, has developed a post-master’s certificate in advanced practice gerontological nursing. The program targets advanced practice nurses from non-gerontological specialties (e.g. FNP, ANP, ACNP) who care for elderly adults. Graduates of this program are prepared to sit for the GNP certification exam through the ANCC. The program emphasizes health issues of vulnerable older adults and has particular focus on rural health and aging.

Geriatric Nursing Faculty Champion Award

Nancy M. Watson, PhD, RN
Founding Director, Elaine C. Hubbard Center for Nursing Research on Aging
University of Rochester School of Nursing, Rochester, New York
Nominated by: Margaret Lash, ANP, RN

The University of Rochester’s Dr. Nancy Watson, champion of geriatric nursing, is recognized locally, statewide, nationally and internationally. She has driven gerontological curricular change at the University of Rochester, created new solutions to prepare adult nurse practitioners to care for their geriatric patients, and has reopened the school’s GNP program. She enlists all disciplines and is widely respected by colleagues in and outside the school of nursing as the “go to” person for tackling geriatric nursing care challenges.

Outstanding School of Nursing Communications Award

Illinois State University Mennonite College of Nursing
Normal, Illinois
Faculty: Brenda Jeffers, PhD, RN
Interim Dean: Sara Campbell, DNS, RN

The Mennonite College of Nursing at Illinois State University reflects on its Web site a commitment to high quality nursing care for vulnerable and underserved older adults. The Web site highlights two new initiatives specifically focused on preparing nurses at the graduate level to practice and conduct research with older adults. Printed materials from the school are carefully crafted to reflect in both images and language a positive view on aging and the importance of providing high-quality geriatric nursing care. Annual reports often highlight important initiatives that involve nursing care of aging adults. In particular, the Teaching Nursing Home Project, funded by the Illinois Department of Health, is designed to transform long-term care throughout Illinois by encouraging students to choose careers in those facilities.


The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) is the national voice for university and four-year college education programs in nursing. Representing more than 670 member schools of nursing at public and private institutions nationwide, AACN's educational, research, governmental advocacy, data collection, publications, and other programs work to establish quality standards for bachelor's- and graduate-degree nursing education, assist deans and directors to implement those standards, influence the nursing profession to improve health care, and promote public support of baccalaureate and graduate nursing education, research, and practice.

The Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing, proudly housed at the New York University College of Nursing, seeks to shape the quality of health care older Americans receive by promoting the highest level of geriatric competence in all nurses. By raising the standards of nursing care, the Hartford Institute aims to ensure that people age with optimal function, comfort, and dignity. The Hartford Institute identifies and develops best practices in nursing care of older adults and infuses these practices into the education of every nursing student and the work environment of every practicing professional nurse. The Hartford Institute encourages national leadership to establish best practice as the standard for geriatric nursing care.


Robert Rosseter, 202-463-6930, ext. 231