Nurse practitioner students from the College of Nursing had the unique educational opportunity to learn best practices in caring for aging patients from experts from the Orlando VA Medical Center.

At the 3rd annual VA/UCF Interdisciplinary Geriatric Seminar, held on Saturday, Sept. 10, five gerontology experts from the Orlando VA Medical Center donated their time to share their successful multidisciplinary approach to managing the social, psychological, cognitive and biological aspects of aging. This team approach, which is considered a best practice but rarely implemented in the U.S., not only manages chronic conditions but also supports functional abilities of older patients. The VA interdisciplinary care team includes gerontology physicians, palliative care physicians, psychology nurse practitioner, pharmacist and wound care specialist.

“Taking a multidisciplinary approach to provide care for the elderly patient as a whole, instead of individual conditions, is incredibly valuable in helping older patients age successfully,” said Dr. Adam Golden, associate chief of staff, geriatrics and extended care at the Orlando VA Medical Center and one of the seminar’s speakers. “This partnership between the VA and UCF allows us the opportunity to educate future care providers on the right approach to caring for their elderly patients.”

This year’s seminar stressed the importance of a team approach to geriatric care, while each member of the VA’s care team shared best practices from their area of expertise. Topics included transitional care for older adults, wound management in geriatric populations, health and wellness interventions, diet and genes, preventing a prescription cascade, and geriatric mental health issues of dementia, depression and delirium. The experts from the Orlando VA Medical Center who presented were:

  • Adam Golden, MD, associate chief of staff, geriatrics and extended care, Orlando VA Medical Center, and professor at the UCF College of Medicine
  • Charlene Demers, GNP-BC, CWOCN, retired gerontological nurse practitioner and certified wound, ostomy and continence nurse
  • Simone Minto-Pennant, Pharm D, BCPS, CGP, a clinical pharmacy specialist in geriatrics
  • Maria Cofrancesco, DNP, CNS, adult-gerontological nurse practitioner
  • Kathe Hypes, DNP, GNP-BC, ARNP, gerontological nurse practitioner, and adjunct instructor and alumna of the College of Nursing (BSN ’82 and DNP ’12)
  • “Since Florida is home to a disproportionate number of elderly, many of whom are also veterans, it is certain that our nurse practitioner graduates will be caring for elderly patients across the state,” said Angela Ritten, DNP, ARNP, FNP-BC, assistant professor and one of the coordinators for the seminar. “Furthermore, health care is shifting from providing care as individual providers to working together as interdisciplinary teams. By providing seminars such as these, our students can learn first-hand how an organization like the VA is implementing the best practice of interdisciplinary care to later incorporate in their own practice to provide the best, optimal patient care.”

    Thirty-four nurse practitioner students, enrolled in the Family and Adult/Gerontology Primary Care tracks, attended this year’s seminar.