UIC Receives $2.5 Million Three year Grant to Build Interprofessional Educational Program for Improving Health of Older Adults

The White House 2015 Council on Aging announced on Monday, July 13 2015 the HHS awards of $35.7 million to improve care for older adults through the HRSA Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program (GWEP) initiative to integrate geriatrics into primary care. Congratulations to Dr. Valerie Gruss, Principal Investigator, and Dr. Memoona Hasnain, Co- Principal Investigator and their Interprofessional Leadership Team colleagues for receiving a prestigious and competitive $2.5 million grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration.

This prestigious and competitive new grant, ENGAGE-IL (ENhancement of Geriatric Care for All through TraininG and Empowerment: An InterprofessionaImperative), builds on the Co-PIs and their colleagues’ prior work in patient-centered care and interprofessional education and collaborative practice. Dr. Valerie Gruss (PI), Assistant Professor in the Department of Biobehavioral Science, College of Nursing, is a leader in geriatrics care and education. Dr. Memoona Hasnain, Associate Professor and Associate Head for Faculty Development in Research, in the Department of Family Medicine, UIC College of Medicine, is the principle architect of several externally funded educational innovations in patient centered care at UIC. Both Co-PIs have made substantial contributions to the development of interprofessional education at UIC.

The award brings invaluable resources and recognition to UIC as a leader in interprofessional education, training and practice to enhance care for older adults by engaging patient, families, care givers and clinicians through participation in a primary care geriatric training program. According to the project directors, this project is critically-important because as persons aged 65 years or older are increasing, and expected to reach 72.1 million by 2030. Most elderly persons have at least once chronic condition, and many have several conditions that require complex, comprehensive care. Along with the increase in the aging population, the number of clinicians trained in geriatrics is declining. The 2008 Institute of Medicine report, Retooling for an Aging America recommends that training be geared toward providing geriatrics education to all clinicians, regardless of specialty.

“I believe we were successful in receiving funding because HRSA identified our interprofessional alliances as the core strength of our project and recognized our ability and capacity to create this program. An important component of the program will include developing education and training on Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. The educational and training materials developed through this project will be widely disseminated and will be available electronically for use locally, regionally and nationally.” Says Gruss.

This collaborative grant was made possible by a partnership between the UIC College of Nursing, Department of Family Medicine-College of Medicine, College of Pharmacy, College of Applied Health Sciences, College of Dentistry, Jane Adams School of Social Work, and School of Public Health. The community partners include Access Community Health Network, Housing Opportunities for Maintenance of the Elderly (HOME), Rainbow Hospice and Palliative Care and Thresholds.

“Given the national trends in the projected increase in the older adult population, this project is very relevant, timely and much needed. I am delighted that this project will take us to the next step in our continuum of educational innovation and collaborative teamwork to empower and build the capacity of our learners and strengthen the community. A holistic public health approach needs to extend training and awareness to other health professionals besides physicians, communities including families, health educators and policy makers. The work that will be developed through this project will develop a better prepared workforce able to address the issues facing a growing aging population. We also hope to be a leader in informing future research, clinical practice, community outreach and education.” Says Hasnain.