Elderly hands

Preparing to Care for an Aging Population: Interprofessional Geriatric Case Competition Highlights Interdisciplinary, Collaborative Care and Training

Author
Jennifer Syltie Johnson
December 11, 2020

When it comes to the need for training health care professionals to care for an aging population, the numbers speak volumes.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of Americans ages 65 and older is projected to nearly double from 52 million in 2018 to 95 million by 2060. Along with aging, the older population is becoming more racially and ethnically diverse.

The Office of Academic Clinical Affairs partners with the Minnesota Northstar Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program (MN Northstar GWEP) to aid in the training of geriatrics team care, and the collaboration across the University to advance aging science.

MN Northstar GWEP concluded its inaugural Annual Inter-GWEP Interprofessional Geriatric Case Competition on Nov. 9, 2020, naming the University of Minnesota team the winner.

The competition was designed to address the competencies for interprofessional teams to care for aging patients: working together in a climate of mutual respect and shared values, using knowledge of roles to assess and address health care needs, communicating with others, and applying relationship-building values and principles of team dynamics to plan patient-centered care.

A total of 16 teams from 11 different disciplines participated in the local competition, which was held virtually to ensure safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. Students from Duluth, Rochester and the Twin Cities campuses were able to participate in the virtual event.

“Anyone who is interested in taking care of older adults realizes that interprofessional collaboration is key,” said Jean Wyman, PhD, RN, FGSA, FAAN, co-program director of the Minnesota Northstar Geriatric Workforce Enhancement Program and the Professor and Cora Meidl Siehl Chair in Nursing Research in the School of Nursing. “In geriatric care, clinical targets and goals may be quite different than that in acutely ill younger patients.”

Wyman brought the case competition to the University after seeking out interprofessional learning opportunities for geriatric care. While attending a conference, she learned about the competition held at St. Louis University and served as a judge for their last year’s competition.

“I had been searching for opportunities, especially for our Doctor of Nursing Practice students to collaborate with other disciplines in geriatric care, and this fit perfectly,” said Wyman.

Students had one month to prepare their recorded presentations, with the top three teams at each university advancing to a local semi-final round. The top-rated team from each semi-final round competed live via Zoom against the other university team.

For the inter-GWEP competition with St. Louis University, the UMN team received the highest score. All participants of the Minnesota competition received a copy of Geriatrics at Your Fingertips 2020, an annually updated reference published by the American Geriatrics Society that provides quick and easy access to the specific information clinicians need to make decisions about the care of older adults. The winning team was awarded a modest cash prize, and each member of the top two teams received medallions for their participation.

The winning team from the UMN included students Emily Feye (adult/gerontological clinical nurse specialist); Katherine Tyeryar (speech-language pathology); Kelsi Johnson (occupational therapy); Kendra Bollig (occupational therapy), and coach Lizzie Choma, PT, DPT, GCS.

“This competition highlights the complexity of care in geriatric patients,” said Wyman. “It’s not only about getting the patient well enough so that they can be discharged. You need to consider how you can help them meet the goals that matter most to them—and how they will function in their daily life. The cure is not always the goal. It’s about working together as a team to get patients back to their optimal health and function.”

Minnesota Northstar Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program Interprofessional Geriatric Case Competition at a glance

The purpose of the Minnesota Northstar Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program (MN Northstar GWEP) is to improve the health care and health of older adults across the entire state of Minnesota. Students, faculty and community experts were recruited to participate in the month-long interprofessional case competition. A total of 16 teams were formed with 75 students from medicine, nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy, social work, pharmacy, dentistry, public health, speech language hearing, health services management, biology and neurosciences. The competition was judged by 34 faculty members and community professionals.

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