Graduate School of Nursing at the University of Massachusetts Worcester awarded federal funding to train advanced practice geriatric nurse specialists

September 4, 2002

WORCESTER, Mass. ¾ The Health Resources and Service Administration (HRSA) of the United States Department of Health and Human Services has awarded $645,000 to enhance adult acute care and adult ambulatory nurse practitioner programs with a geriatric specialty at the Graduate School of Nursing (GSN) at the University of Massachusetts Worcester. “This project addresses the health care needs of the aging and underserved populations in Worcester, central Massachusetts, and the Commonwealth by increasing the numbers of advanced practice nurses prepared to care for an increasingly older and culturally diverse population,” explained Doreen C. Harper, PhD, CS, ANP, FAAN, dean of the GSN.

Worcester’s frail and vulnerable elders suffer from poorer health status, less access to health care, and higher rates of illness and death from certain diseases than the rest of the state. “The real impetus is that we have a rapidly aging population needing more health services, at the same time that there has been a decrease in nurse practitioners prepared as geriatric specialists,” noted Kathleen Miller, EdD, RN, CS, principal investigator for the grant and associate professor at the GSN. Dr. Miller has seen first-hand the unique issues faced by aging patients. “They have more health problems and longer recoveries. This program will prepare more nurse practitioners to address problems of recovery from illness that are unique to elders in the ambulatory care setting.”

The project will be implemented with interdisciplinary collaborations between GSN and School of Medicine faculty and students, as well as the formation of a Community Advisory Committee. “Reaching our goals requires the kind of interdisciplinary collaboration that takes place on this campus and with our community,” noted Harper, “because geriatric care is so complex that no one discipline can do it all.” Specificially, the project will (1) expand access to the GSN’s gerontological nurse practitioner programs, (2) recruit minority graduate students interested in geriatric care, (3) enhance the curricula of the Master’s program by focusing on acute and primary care of older adults, (4) develop the cultural competence of program graduates and (5) promote the health of older residents of Worcester and Massachusetts via clinical preventive services.

The GSN grant was awarded by HRSA’s Bureau of Health Professions Advanced Education Nursing program. The Bureau of Health Professions helps assure citizens access to quality health care professionals by putting new research findings into practice, encouraging health professionals to serve individuals and communities where the need is greatest, and promoting cultural and ethnic diversity within the health professions workforce. The “access agency” of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, HRSA’s mission is to assure access to quality health care for all, including low income, uninsured, isolated, vulnerable and special needs populations.

The Graduate School of Nursing was established in 1985 at the University of Massachusetts Medical School’s Worcester campus. The GSN educates advanced practice nurses, including nurse practitioners, educators and clinicians, offering nursing and interdisciplinary graduate studies that reflect significant public need. A leader in health sciences education, research, and public service, the University of Massachusetts Medical School is one of the fastest growing medical schools in the country, attracting more than $131 million in research funding annually.  It is the academic partner of UMass Memorial Health Care.


Sandra Gray, (508) 856-2000