Experts in geriatrics, the healthcare specialty dedicated to our needs as we age, are making more than a New Year's resolution to continue improving our care as we grow older. With the publication of new research in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society (JAGS), these experts also hope their resolution will become a more tangible reality thanks to the Emerging Leaders in Aging (ELIA) Program, a promising approach to leadership development for a profession that has witnessed impressive growth but also tremendous demand in recent years.
Piloted by Tideswell at UCSF, the American Geriatrics Society (AGS), and the Association of Directors of Geriatrics Academic Programs (ADGAP), ELIA has offered intensive leadership training to more than 60 geriatrics health professionals from all corners of the country. With an eye toward driving the social change necessary to make high-quality, person-centered care an actionable priority, ELIA's qualitative and quantitative successes, published today in JAGS, chart a course toward leveraging long-distance mentoring and project-based learning to empower the emerging innovators we will need in greater and growing numbers as more of us age.
"Health professionals who work with older people need to be leaders in high-value clinical programs, interprofessional education, and innovative research to help us better understand aging," said Sharon Brangman, MD, FACP, AGSF, Chair of ADGAP and Inaugural Chair, Department of Geriatrics, at SUNY Upstate Medical University in N.Y. "ELIA is helping to make that possible with an intense, immersive opportunity to see what skills our health professionals already have--and to develop those skills for the future care we all need as we age."
ELIA focuses on junior and mid-career professionals, and serves as one of the first educational programs of its kind to offer dedicated time outside schools for health professions to hone social and scientific skills essential to caring for older adults. The program includes an orientation, in-person meetings, and monthly remote conferences encompassing more than 50 interactive instructional hours. The more than 60 scholars who have completed the program since its launch in 2014 have all executed their own capstone projects aimed at improving clinical practice, geriatrics education, or geriatrics research--and their work is paying dividends, according to the new research published in JAGS.
Among ELIA's early successes:
- Scholars reported delivering 85 presentations, authoring or co-authoring 65 research publications, and receiving more than 20 awards to foster greater educational development--all tied directly to ELIA training.
- Self-reported professional confidence among ELIA scholars rose from 5.8 to 8.0 on a 9-point scale following completion of the program.
- The program also has nurtured a network of peers and mentors across 24 states. This community is not only helping to advance individual careers but also working to augment professional collaboration serving older adults and caregivers in areas where the geriatrics workforce shortage is particularly pronounced.
The best testament to the program's success may come from participants themselves. As one ELIA scholar observed in remarks reported in JAGS: "This program gives a voice and confidence to people who have fabulous ideas that may not normally move forward without specific attention to developing their leadership capacity." For geriatrics healthcare professionals ultimately hoping to provide the same voice and confidence to older adults and caregivers, these individual successes speak to the potential for a ripple effect as more colleagues consider ELIA and leadership training platforms to support the care we all need as we age.
ELIA is accepting applications for 2019-2020 cohort of scholars through Jan. 25. For more information, visit AmericanGeriatrics.org/programs/Tideswell, or access "Leadership, Inside and Out: The Tideswell-AGS-ADGAP Emerging Leaders in Aging Program" and "Learning to Lead: Reflections from the Tideswell/AGS Emerging Leaders in Aging Scholars" with free open-access from JAGS.
About the American Geriatrics Society
Founded in 1942, the American Geriatrics Society (AGS) is a nationwide, not-for-profit society of geriatrics healthcare professionals that has--for more than 75 years--worked to improve the health, independence, and quality of life of older people. Its nearly 6,000 members include geriatricians, geriatric nurses, social workers, family practitioners, physician assistants, pharmacists, and internists. The Society provides leadership to healthcare professionals, policymakers, and the public by implementing and advocating for programs in patient care, research, professional and public education, and public policy. For more information, visit AmericanGeriatrics.org.