Strengthening Geriatric Nursing Education Edited by T.T. Fulmer and M. Matzo, 1995, New York, NY: Springer Publishing, $33.95
Strengthening Geriatric Nursing Education is from the Springer Series on Geriatric Nursing. The information presented is derived from the 1994 conference, "Caring for Older Americans: The Critical Role of Nursing Education" sponsored by Columbia University School of Nursing with the Merck Company Foundation.
The book is divided into two parts. Part I is an overview of geriatric nursing education and includes seven chapters. The unit begins with a chapter on the state of geriatric nursing education. The writers identify three pressing needs. These needs are: a) better data regarding how much nursing programs are doing in caring for older adults, b) a clearer and more accurate vision of elders, their needs, and how caring for elders impacts the lives of others, and c) identifying curriculum revisions necessary to prepare students to provide quality care to frail elders. A well-prepared geriatric nursing faculty is seen as the only way to meet the above goals.
Chapter 2 discusses the many barriers in nursing education regarding geriatrics. Some of the major barriers are: a) perception by faculty of no room for new content in an already full curriculum, b) ageist attitudes, c) lack of geriatric clinical sites, d) lack of prepared faculty to teach the content, e) lack of an NLN mandate for geriatric inclusion in curricula, f ) medical model underpinnings in nursing curriculum, and g) lack of testing of geriatric content on the NCLEX-RN exam.
In Chapter 3, incorporating geriatrics into the licensure and accreditation process is discussed. Chapter 4 examines many issues and concerns about expanding the clinical opportunities in geriatrics for undergraduate and graduate nursing students. Some examples of ways to expand clinical opportunities are presented. Chapter 5 discusses student resistance in overcoming ageism. Arguments on whether geriatrics should be integrated into courses or should be a specific course in the nursing curriculum is discussed in Chapter 6. Chapter 7 presents some of the successful curriculum models such as the Robert Wood Johnson Teaching Nursing Home Project and WX. Kellogg Nursing Home Partnership Project.
Part II presents possible approaches to specific content areas in geriatrics. Content areas discussed are: a) physiologic changes in aging, b) psychiatric mental health content, c) elimination and skin problems, d) drugs and their side effects, e) cancer and pain management for elders, f) HIV and older adults, and f) bioethics and elderly. This section ends with an interesting chapter on "Vital Aging" from a speech given by Betty Friedan in 1994.
I found this book to be a very comprehensive and critical examination of the problems facing nursing geriatric education now and in the future. Many possible solutions are presented throughout the book. This book should be read by all nurse educators as nursing works to create a curricula to meet the needs of all Americans in the 21st century. Geriatric nursing has made much progress in the last 20 to 30 years, however, much more progress is needed. With the graying of America, how can we adequately prepare our future nurses if geriatrics does not become an integral part of nursing curricula?