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University of Iowa News

Sept. 29, 2005

UI And Community Colleges Will Put Nurse Aide Training Online

By the year 2030, more than one in five Iowans will be age 65 or older, and the number of Iowans age 85 or older will increase by about 61 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. These changes fuel the statewide need for more nurse aides.

The University of Iowa Geriatric Education Center will address this need by leading the development of an online course that provides "anytime, anywhere" access for students who want to become certified nurse aides.

These health care workers provide nearly 80 percent of the direct hands-on care for elderly residents in long-term care facilities and, increasingly, assisted living. Demand for nurse aides in facilities nationwide could increase by up to 61 percent between 2000 and 2020, according to a report by the federal Health Resources and Services Administration.

To create the online nurse aide course, UI experts in geriatrics and distance learning are working with the Iowa Community Colleges Online Consortium and nurse instructors at Iowa Lakes Community College in Emmetsburg and Western Iowa Tech Community College in Sioux City. The project has received a nearly $75,000 grant from the Iowa Department of Public Health.

The program will overcome both time and distance barriers to learning, said Paul Mulhausen, M.D., clinical associate professor of internal medicine in the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine and a geriatrician at UI Hospitals and Clinics.

"Because of Iowa's rural nature there are geographical barriers to learning opportunities for nurse aides. Many non-traditional students have families and significant outside responsibilities that make it difficult for them to attend traditional classroom courses," said Mulhausen, who also is a geriatrician with the Veterans Affairs Iowa City Health Care System.

The online course also will prevent students from losing out on educational opportunities when a community college course is cancelled due to low enrollment, said Linda Seydel, an investigator on the grant and administrator of Programs in Geriatric Education for the UI Division of General Internal Medicine.

The innovative curriculum, which the organizers hope to have online by spring 2006, will be integrated with clinical experiences at community colleges. In addition to making learning more accessible, the online course will help uniformly prepare students for nursing schools.

"The project addresses the growing trend that students complete a state- approved nurse aide course prior to entering nursing programs," Seydel said. "The online course also will help standardize teaching curriculum, which previously has been a barrier to developing online health occupations programs. In the long run, the course will better prepare students who wish to go on to community college and four-year nursing programs."

Iowa currently ranks second in the nation in percentage of population age 85 and older. This age group is the fastest growing segment of the older population and may number 21 million in the United States by 2050, according to the Population Reference Bureau.

"We are hopeful that our online program will help address the huge need for nurse aides in Iowa, as well as the potential for students to more easily realize their career goals," Seydel said.

For more information about the forthcoming program, contact Seydel at linda-seydel@uiowa.edu or 319-353-5756.

For more information about need for nurse aides, see this report at http://bhpr.hrsa.gov/healthworkforce/reports/changedemo/default.htm.

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine and UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide. Visit UI Health Care online at www.uihealthcare.com.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Health Science Relations, 5137 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1178

CONTACTS: Media: Becky Soglin, 319-335-6660, becky-soglin@uiowa.edu; Program: Linda Seydel, UI administrator of Programs in Geriatric Education, 319-353-5756, linda-seydel@uiowa.edu

PHOTOS: Mulhausen: http://www.healthcare.uiowa.edu/InternalMedicine/Divisions/GMed/Directory/PaulMulhausen.html (Note: No photo of Seydel is available.)