October 6, 2016

UAMS College of Nursing Receives $100,000 to Provide Primary Care, Mental Health to Older Adults

The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) College of Nursing has received $100,000 to provide primary care services, with an emphasis on mental health, to older Arkansans.

Half of the money comes from the National Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education at the University of Minnesota, where the UAMS College of Nursing was one of 16 institutions chosen to receive a grant. The other half of the money is matching funds from the UAMS Office of the Provost.

“Capitalizing on this grant, our university is demonstrating the intent and impact of interprofessional education and collaborative practice,” said Stephanie Gardner, PharmD, EdD, UAMS provost and chief academic officer. “Our students will see firsthand how interdisciplinary, patient- and family-centered care can be extended to aging patients.”

Interprofessional education is when students from different disciplines learn about, from and with each other. College of Nursing students will work alongside College of Pharmacy students under the supervision of faculty from both colleges to provide primary care to older adults. In addition, students will provide depression screenings and review patient prescriptions.

Students will see patients at the 12th Street Health and Wellness Center in Little Rock and the North Street Clinic on the UAMS Northwest Campus in Fayetteville. Students also will provide care to older adults in rural areas of Arkansas through a partnership with the Arkansas Health Care Association and the Arkansas Aging Initiative at the UAMS Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging.

“We believe that patients are more likely to receive safe, quality care when health professionals learn and work together,” said Patricia Cowan, PhD, RN, dean of the College of Nursing. “This funding enables UAMS to foster educational and practice collaborations among nurse practitioner students and pharmacy students to provide patient-centered care for older adults with mental health needs.”

Keith Olsen, PharmD, dean of the UAMS College of Pharmacy, said receiving the grant speaks well of the interprofessional education opportunities already in place at UAMS.

“The fact this grant was given to a select number of institutions speaks well of UAMS’ vision and foundation for the future,” said Olsen. “Because of the university’s forward thinking, our students will reap the benefit of another opportunity to work with those from differing health care professions and work toward better patient outcomes.”

Melodee Harris, PhD, APRN, an assistant professor in the College of Nursing is leading the UAMS team.

“With older adults, there are many things, including transportation, that can affect access to care, which causes health disparities,” said Harris. “Untreated and undiagnosed depression worsens with time and can affect a patient’s chronic illnesses.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 21 percent of Arkansas’ population, or more than 622,000 people, were at least 60 years old in 2012. That age group is estimated to rise to 26.1 percent by 2030.

Creating more opportunities for students to learn to collaborate and interact with other health care professionals can impact the level of geriatric care for years to come in Arkansas, said Harris.

“This gives the students an opportunity to learn proper cooperative techniques before entering practice after graduation, which is significant,” she said.

Funding from the National Center for IPE was provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The John A. Hartford Foundation, the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.