June 26, 2009

Geriatric care focus of new VUSN series

Geriatric care focus of new VUSN series

Vanderbilt University School of Nursing is embracing new technology to bring better care to older members of the population.

Called “webinars” by the technologically savvy, the NICHE (Nurses Improving Care for Healthsystem Elders) Web Based Learning Series unites health care staff and experts across the country for educational sessions related to geriatric care.

With the so-called “Silver Tsunami” about to strike, organizer Sally Miller, M.S., R.N., said focus on the aging baby boomer generation is a must.

“There has been an increase in the rate of older adults we are seeing. They are living longer with more co-morbidities and are being seen across the health care continuum,” she said.

“Geriatrics is a salient topic for discussion of nurses in the acute-care setting,” added Linda Beuscher, Ph.D., R.N., assistant professor of Nursing. “In the current population trends, the baby boomers are surfacing with chronic illnesses, and those numbers will only increase in the future.”

With grant funding from the Meharry Consortium Geriatric Education Center, VUSN is able to present two webinars from “The Never Event Series: The Experts Respond,” which focus on preventable events like pressure ulcers and falls.

The June 10 session, by Heidi Wald, M.D., assistant professor of Medicine at University of Colorado, Denver, presented the latest details on catheter acquired urinary tract infection (CAUTI).

On July 21, VUSN's Lorraine Mion, Ph.D., R.N., Independence Foundation Professor of Nursing, and Anne Minnick, Ph.D., R.N., associate dean of Research and Chenault Professor of Nursing, will present on restraints.

Because VUSN can have an unlimited number of attendees, Miller said the webinars are a convenient and low-cost way to earn continuing education credits.

“A lot of institutions are cutting back on sending people to conferences, and this is an easy way to get access to experts. These people really are leaders in the field, and it is very cost-effective,” she said.

During the hour-long webinar, Miller said she felt like she was in a small conference room with the presenter.

Slides are shown on a Web page, and attendees hear the presenter's voice in real time.

Attendees can type a message to the presenter or other attendees, or can dial in and ask a live question.

Carrie Plummer, a geriatric nurse practitioner who was attending her first webinar, said there was no compromise in the level of content and expertise, and praised the convenience.

“Vanderbilt prides itself on evidence-based practice, but it's hard these days not to feel like there is a huge mountain of evidence that we have to sift through and incorporate into our practice. It's so valuable to have the NICHE group to tell us the latest and be able to ask someone questions. Within an hour, I feel like I caught up in CAUTIs.”

The next webinar, “Focus on Restraints,” will be held July 21 from 12:30-1:30 p.m. in Frist Hall Room 140.

For more information, contact Sally Miller at 322-4894 or sally.m.miller@vanderbilt.edu.