Gerontological nursing: A conscious choice
There seems to be a pervasive misconception in society and the nursing profession that nurses only go into gerontology at the end of their career or because they are burned out. This is not the case, as Mollie Cole, president of the Canadian Gerontological Nursing Association (CGNA), explained to the members of the Canadian Network of Nursing Specialties at the April 2018 quarterly meeting.
Entering gerontological nursing is, in fact, a conscious choice for nurses. It’s a practice based on a solid foundation of unique and evidence-based knowledge. Mollie believes that gerontology is a core competency that all nurses should have. In fact, CGNA has worked in collaboration with the Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing (CASN) to develop gerontology-specific entry-to-practice competencies to ensure undergraduate nursing curriculum includes gerontological best practices.
Mollie’s goal is to expand CGNA’s influence so that over the next 20-year period, gerontological knowledge is so well embedded within foundational nursing curricula that these important best practices become foundational nursing knowledge. It’s too important for nurses not to have.
Toward meeting this goal, CGNA worked with CNA to create a gerontological nursing list for Choosing Wisely Canada [PDF, 120 KB]. The list was approved at the CNA March 2018 board meeting and will be the basis for more educational opportunities for CGNA members. Mollie is also encouraging CGNA members to create projects that demonstrate how quality improvements have been implemented in their work settings.
CGNA will host its 20th biennial national conference in Calgary, Alberta, May 2-4, 2019. The call for abstracts is now open and will be available until October 1, 2018. The focus of the conference will be the journeys and transitions experienced by older people and the implementation of the recommendations of the Choosing Wisely gerontological nursing list.
Earlier this year, the Canadian Deprescribing Network invited CGNA to form a partnership and co-chair a working group to look at the role of nurses in supporting deprescribing. The goal of deprescribing is to reduce medication burden and maintain or improve quality of life. For gerontological nursing, deprescribing is an important consideration with older adults who are on a high number of medications. For many seniors, drugs that were prescribed for good reasons may be a disadvantage to the person as they get older — especially if they are taking medications that interact with each other. Mollie and the CGNA board are working to ensure their members are aware of the issues and feel competent and confident to speak with the public, their patients and their colleagues in other specialty areas about the importance of looking at medications.
CGNA is also working on improving the resources they make available for nurses who want to certify in gerontological nursing. Some of the improvements include building study groups, providing a list of mentors and revising their national practice standards. Mollie and president-elect Lori Schindel Martin are working with the CNA certification team to explore the possibility of offering a certification exam for registered/licensed practical nurses that work in gerontology.
Mollie and the CGNA board are reviewing the association’s membership structure. The current structure has worked well in the past, but there has been a decline in meeting attendance. CGNA is a federation of provincial and national associations and regular members, associates and students.
Of the more than 3,600 CGNA members, over 1,500 are students. Mollie is leading CGNA to engage more with students so they become aware of CGNA when they are still in school. CGNA also works with new nursing graduates, encouraging them to take an active role in the association so it can learn from and connect with the newest generation of nurses. Mollie understands that the association needs to move beyond the traditional ways of communication and education to keep members interested and involved. Another step to expanding their membership will be to encourage greater numbers of acute care nurses, registered psychiatric nurses and registered/licenced practical nurses to join CGNA.
If you are interested in learning more about gerontological nursing, you can contact:
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If your network organization is interested in showcasing itself to gerontological nurses, consider attending CGNA’s national conference in May 2019. For more information, please read their sponsorship and exhibiting prospectus.
For more information about CGNA, visit their websites or follow them on social media.
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