Marilyn R. Gugliucci, M.A., Ph.D., professor and director of Geriatrics Research within the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine (UNE COM), has co-authored the foreword of the latest issue of Gerontology and Geriatrics Education, a journal of the Gerontological Society of America (GSA) and Academy for Gerontology in Higher Education (AGHE).
The foreword, “Array of opportunities in health professions education programs to advance older adult health care,” was written with Shirley Weaver, M.A., Ph.D., a now-retired associate dean and current UNE COM Geriatrics Education Mentor (GEM) program consultant and mentor since the program’s inception in 2015.
The program pairs first- and second-year UNE COM students with older adults living in the community, known as GEMs, who act as mentors to enhance medical education in geriatrics.
Students work with GEMs to complete six assignments over the course of 18 months, providing them a person-centered opportunity to develop medical skills, knowledge, and attitudes about older adults and aging. Older adults, in turn, learn about their own health and health care.
Gugliucci and Weaver’s piece introduces a special, nine-article edition of the journal focused on innovations in health professions education as well as new training methods that are addressing the special needs of older care recipients.
“There is an abundance of older people … who are gerotranscended – choosing to be active participants, rather than passive recipients, and making clear to their providers what matters to them,” Gugliucci and Weaver write. “Education programs that engage older adults have shown it enhances students’ competence to become health care providers that are mindful in the care of older adults and their care partners.”
Together, they argue that the push toward an Age-Friendly Health System needs to be part of every health professions curriculum. An Age-Friendly Health System is one in which every older adult gets the best care possible, experiences no health care-related harms, and is satisfied with the health care they receive.
“Engagement of older adults in the design of new models of care is an emerging approach to training.,” they say. “Health professions education is a critical component in establishing strategies to reframe aging and redesign health care systems to be age friendly.”