Skip to main content

UNC’s Division of Geriatric Medicine/Center for Aging and Health Will Hold an Interprofessional Geriatrics Experience

L-R Jennifer Harmon, Carol Giuliani, Shannon Mitchell, Denisé Dews, Cristine Clarke, Carrie Palmer, Sue Coppola, Allen Samuelson, Amanda Holiday, Kim Sanders, Cherie Rosemond, Amy Weil and Jane Thrailkill

With a rapidly aging population, the proportion of elderly adults far exceeds the capacity of geriatric trained health care professionals. Interprofessional education (IPE), combining faculty experts from disciplines like dentistry, nursing, social work and pharmacy, to teach health care trainees from these same disciplines, is one approach to decreasing the shortage.

“Most older patients present with complex health needs that require care from more than one discipline,” said Dr. Jan Busby-Whitehead, Chief of the Division of Geriatric Medicine and Director, of the Center for Aging and Health. “Therefore, the involvement of physicians, nurses, social workers, occupational therapists, physical therapists, dentists, pharmacists, and other disciplines can be essential for successful care.”

To generate awareness about IPE and the benefits of an interdisciplinary team approach, UNC Center for Aging and Health will hold a two-day interprofessional experience for interprofessional graduate students on January 25, 2018 and February 1, 2018 from 2-5 p.m. The experience will show how health professionals can be trained to think and act interprofessionally, and then train others, in order to maximize the scarcity of geriatric care providers.

“We are excited about bringing exposure and awareness to the needs and strengths of the geriatric population through this experience,” said Dr. Busby-Whitehead. “Interprofessional training means various health professionals learn with, from, and about others so that geriatric patients can benefit from a cohesive approach to care.”

The IPE Geriatrics Experience will give students exposure to a variety of pertinent geriatric principles and rich complex case studies, allowing the trainees to utilize critical thinking as a team member while applying analytical skills, and construct comprehensive care plans with patient centered goals. Interprofessional teams will be comprised of disciplines from dentistry, dental hygiene, medicine, nursing, public health, nutrition, occupational therapy, pharmacy, physical therapy, social work, and speech and hearing sciences.

Through this event, students will gain an understanding of the roles of other disciplines, have the opportunity to engage in an interdisciplinary collaborative process to address the needs of older adults, learn when to refer to other disciplines based upon the area of professional knowledge of those disciplines and the needs of the patient, and identify examples of the benefits of an interdisciplinary team approach to care for older adults.

The event will begin in UNC’s Department of Social Work. From there, teams will disperse to assigned locations on the UNC Health Sciences campus. For more information and to register, contact Catherine Choi at or 919-843-5220. An inclement weather make-up day is scheduled for Thursday, February 8.