Established in 2007, the Center of Geriatric Nursing Excellence at Penn State was funded for several years with a grant from the John A. Hartford Foundation. This was a thoughtful response to the national nursing faculty shortage—one targeted to prepare faculty members who have broad expertise in the care of our country’s rapidly growing population of older adults and are committed to teaching the next generation of nurses, especially in underserved rural areas.
Our center is strategically positioned to succeed in this original targeted response for several reasons. Pennsylvania has one of the nation’s largest populations of adults age 65 and older, many of whom live in rural areas. The Penn State College of Nursing, centrally located on Penn State’s University Park campus, has twelve commonwealth campuses across the state, serving highly motivated learners who live and work in both urban and rural areas. The college also has an impressive and growing portfolio of geriatric nursing research led by nationally and internationally known faculty with expertise in both gerontology and education.
One of eight original Hartford Centers in the United States, the CGNE at Penn State is at the forefront of innovation and change in the fields of gerontology and education. More than 60 such centers are now embedded within colleges or schools of nursing across our country, and we provide leadership and mentorship to these centers, helping to guide their development and implementation of strategic initiatives.
Our center maintains membership in the National Hartford Center of Gerontological Nursing Excellence, with our faculty serving on the NHCGNE board of directors and other influential committees. Faculty routinely present at the NHCGNE Leadership Conference and the Gerontological Society of America Annual Scientific Meeting, both held annually in November.
Dr. Ann Kolanowski, professor of nursing and professor of psychiatry, founded the center and served as director for more than eight years. Her visionary and influential leadership provided an essential foundation that led to a strong reputation for educational excellence and rigorous research in the field of gerontology. Upon Dr. Kolanowski’s phased retirement beginning in January 2016, Dr. Donna Fick, Elouise Ross Eberly Professor of Nursing and professor of medicine, began serving as director.
Over the past decade, our center’s vision and strategic plan have evolved to meet the ever-changing needs and direction of health care for older adults and their families in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and throughout the United States. The CGNE will consistently employ innovative ways to enhance the expertise of our next generation of gerontological nurses, educators, and scientists. In addition, our center is highly involved with initiatives and collaborative partnerships that focus on age-friendly health care, culture change promotion, person-centered care, and many other best practice approaches in the care of older adults and their families.