Last month, almost one hundred agencies and institutions, including professionals from Canada, Philippines, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Australia, descended on Austin, Texas to attend the 2019 National Hartford Center of Gerontological Nursing Excellence Leadership Conference on Aging. Tracie C. Harrison, PhD, RN, FNP, FAAN, and J Taylor Harden, PhD, RN, FGSA, FAAN, co-chaired the planning committee.
“According to early figures, the turnout for non-member attendance hit an all-time high.” said Dr. Harrison. “With an ever-growing geriatric population, we are pleased to see the Center’s message of optimal health for aging adults expand to non-member organizations—especially as elderly population dynamics continue to change.”
With financial support from the National Institute on Aging and The University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing, organizing the conference in Austin was an opportunity to better discuss cultural shifts within the senior population. Dr. Harrison addressed the need to focus on the change sooner, rather than later. “The population of minority seniors is growing. Within five to ten years, the state’s elderly Hispanic population will exceed their white counterpart. As a community, we need to implement new policies to better support those unique health care needs.”
Expanding on that shift, The UT at Austin School of Nursing alumna, Mary Wakefield, PhD, RN, FAAN, focused her opening keynote address on the critical role of nursing in delivering care to rural Americans. She encouraged clinicians to combine advocacy with evidence-based practices to better anticipate the needs of patients and deliver care. Fellow keynote speaker and internationally recognized gerontologist Dr. Peggye Dilworth-Anderson proposed social media marketing strategies in clinical trial recruitment, and discussed the imperative to support participant comprehension in reducing fears of exploitation in clinical research. “More NIA supported research and advocacy is necessary in order for our nation to address the growing crises of Alzheimer’s and lack of knowledgeable caregivers,” said Dr. Harden.
The UT at Austin School of Nursing alumni were heavily represented among the prestigious presenters and award recipients. Alyce Ashcraft, PhD, RN, CNE, ANEF, FNGNA, of Texas Tech University School of Nursing, was appointed president-elect of NHCGNE. Following the conference, Keela Herr, PhD, RN, AGSF, FGSA, FAAN, of The University of Iowa College of Nursing, was honored at the Gerontological Society of America with the Doris Schwartz Gerontological Nursing Research Award for her contributions to geriatric nursing research.
“Doctors Harden and Harrison supervised an impressive conference.” said Alexa Stuifbergen, PhD, RN, FAAN, Dean of The UT at Austin School of Nursing. “These two professors have been working diligently to expand their research on the best methods to provide care to the aging population. It’s very rewarding to see leading researchers across the globe converge in Austin to share their work and collaborate.”