University Gets Million Dollars for Geriatric Training

7 years 4 weeks 20 hours ago Friday, November 12 2010 Nov 12, 2010 Friday, November 12, 2010 8:44:03 PM UTC November 12, 2010 in News

COLUMBIA - The Nevada-based Donald W. Reynolds Foundation said Friday it has chosen the University of Missouri's geriatric care program to receive one of ten million-dollar grants. The MU researcher in charge of the grant said the money will go toward improving simulation training and help fund existing programs. The grant comes at a time when there is greater focus on the needs of retiring baby boomers.

This grant will continue funding the Senior Teacher Education Partnership (STEP), which was funded by the last grant. The program partners medical students with elderly members of the community. The STEP program allows students to get to know seniors in a context outside of the hospital so they can understand their needs and desires.

Nancy Fritsch and her husband have been members of the STEP program for 5 years and have gotten very close to the students who volunteer. The program has volunteers meet every month for a lunch and lecture. For many of them, their involvement goes beyond the monthly meeting.

"We have them over for dinner or go for a run on the trail." Fritsch said. "After a year you become very close to them. We get to know them so well, when they become a second-year med student, we don't want to let them go."

Shelley Delong is a second-year student who has stayed involved with the Fritsch family. She said she would meet them for dinner and have helped provide a support system away from home. She thinks it gave her insight into the lives of geriatric patients.

"In most practices, you deal with the older population." Delong said. "It gives you more awareness and makes you a better doctor."

The Director of the Center on Aging predicts that by 2025, about 25% of all Americans will be over the age of 65.

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