Grant Gives Boost To USF Geriatric Training

Aug 19, 2015

Thousands of seniors in the Tampa Bay area may be helping train the next generation of health professionals.

The University of South Florida, in partnership with Tampa Family Health Centers, received a $2.4 million federal grant aimed at improving geriatric health.

Rita D'Aoust, the lead investigator on the grant, said USF Health is using the money to create a blended geriatrics program for medical, nursing, pharmacy and physical therapy students.

Collaborators include the USF Health colleges of Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy, the School of Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Sciences, the USF Health Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute and the USF School of Aging Studies.

D’Aoust said those students will help 6,000 mostly-poor patients 60 years and older get primary care services.

"Everyone thinks that 'oh yeah, we know about older adults,’” D'Aoust said. “But we do we really provide sufficient content specific to that age group and to the conditions that occur? It's not just an illness battle, but (one about) wellness."

The grant will also let Tampa Family Health Centers hire internal medicine residents for the first time.

Melanie Michael, the Assistant Dean of the Doctor of Nursing Practice Program at USF Health, said the residency program will help improve care for seniors wherever the students up practicing.

“Given the shift in population demographics in the United States, the demand and the need to be able to be able to deliver really high quality, competent geriatric care in primary care is going to increase dramatically over the next few decades,” Michael said.

The grant will also let Tampa Family Health Centers train four new case managers and two patient care navigators.

USF Health is one of 44 organizations, mostly universities, in 29 states creating programs designed to improve geriatric health.

“The grant will help us better prepare a workforce to support the state’s growing geriatric population and address gaps in health care for older adults,” D’Aoust said.

In total, $35 million was awarded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration through its Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program.  

Florida State University was the only other awardee in Florida.

Daylina Miller is a reporter for WUSF in Tampa. Health News Florida receives support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.