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Arkansas faces immense challenges in its health care delivery system that stem from a high proportion of low income elderly who have limited access to health care; Arkansas is a rural state with 100% of its counties medically underserved. The need for geriatric training of professionals who provide services in these poor, rural areas of Arkansas is a compelling objective. To meet this need, the Arkansas Geriatric Education Center (AGEC) has formed a consortium between the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), Arkansas State University (ASU), and University of Central Arkansas.
The purpose of the AGEC is to expand the training and educational opportunities for practicing health professionals, faculty who teach in the health professions, and students anticipating health careers in Arkansas. There is a significant need to increase the number of health professionals who have geriatric expertise, particularly with the large percentage of older adults in this medically underserved State. The goal of the AGEC is to increase the quality of health care provided to elderly Arkansans through education and training opportunities for health professionals practicing in Arkansas. This goal will be achieved through the following objectives
- Expand educational opportunities for health professionals practicing in rural and medically underserved areas in Arkansas.
- Develop and disseminate new curricula, courses, materials and experiences for students in the health professions, including public health and medicine, enrolled in institutions of the AGEC consortium that relate to the treatment of health and socio-economic challenges for elderly individuals.
- Offer opportunities for education and training in geriatrics to didactic or clinical faculty who teach or supervise students in the health professions.
- Support continuing education of health professionals who provide geriatric care throughout Arkansas.
- Provide students with clinical training in geriatrics in settings such as nursing homes, chronic and acute care hospitals, ambulatory care centers (AII COAs) and senior centers (AAA).
- Develop a comprehensive evaluation plan that addresses primary, secondary and tertiary outcomes.
Together with the GRECC at the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System and Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging at UAMS, the AGEC sponsors three geriatrics focused conferences each year which include: Nutrition and Aging in September, Geriatric Medicine Update in February, and Best Practices in the Continuum of Care in April. In addition to the 3 conferences each year, the AGEC also produces 4 video teleconferences on a variety of topics in geriatrics/gerontology, which are broadcast throughout the State through the Rural Hospital Network, the Area Health Education Centers, VA facilities and independent receiver sites.
Through the Arkansas Geriatrics Education Mentors and Scholars (AR-GEMS), a self-study, self-paced program with an interdisciplinary approach, the AGEC offers clinical and didactic training to practicing health professionals. The AR-GEMS Faculty Summer Institute provides an update on geriatrics content and clinical experiences to faculty who teach in health professions programs at institutions of higher education.