Our health care system is facing several challenges as people are living longer, with multiple chronic conditions that increase the need to utilize health care services. The significant increase of the segment of the population aged 65 or older will strain existing care systems, as older adults currently consume 30% of all health care resources in the United States and this will increase to 50% by 2030 unless new approaches are adopted. As our health care system struggles with limited resources and a well-documented workforce shortage, we are called upon to design innovative approaches that will address this unprecedented demographic shift and will improve quality of life for older adults and their families, help them remain healthy and preserve function, prevent falls and adverse events, facilitate disease and symptom management, and promote palliation and dignity at the end of life. All these goals require not only increased efficiency in our current care practices, but also new approaches and strategies to support aging including informatics tools and systems. The University of Washington School of Nursing has a long history in building academic gerontologic nursing capacity and in informatics research and education. Our goal is to expand this capacity by integrating informatics tools and interdisciplinary educational approaches into our aging educational and research training.
The specific aims for the proposed Aging and Informatics Training Program (AITP) are to recruit and retain a qualified diverse cadre of pre-doctoral and post-doctoral fellows, to provide interdisciplinary didactic research training in the fundamental theories, methods, and skills necessary to conduct gerontological research using informatics, to facilitate the ability of trainees to develop research expertise through ongoing research experience in aging and informatics, to mentor all trainees in the ethical conduct of research, especially in diverse vulnerable populations, and recognize the ethical implications of technology use in gerontology. We plan to evaluate the training program structures, processes, and outcomes on an ongoing basis.
Both nationally and globally, the number of older adults (people 65 years of age or older) is growing faster than any other age group. Advances in biomedicine and this unprecedented demographic shift call for innovative approaches to address the needs and challenges of an aging society. We need to train nursing gerontological scientists who can utilize informatics to support aging and design, implement and evaluate systems and interventions for older adults and their families.