Gerontology nursing students at Harding University were awarded the Most Innovative Volunteer Group award by the Arkansas Gerontological Society at the organization's annual Aging Conference in Hot Springs Oct. 28.
The group was honored for their participation in a senior advocacy mission through the Arkansas Ombudsmen Program in White County nursing homes. Participants work to make changes to improve residential care and quality of life on the local, state and national levels.
"These students are providing an innovative service to adults 65 and older in nursing homes, which no other nursing program in the state is currently offering. This is very innovative in partnering a private educational institution with a state program which is able to then administer the program to private nursing home facilities," said Carol Enderlin of UAMS in her award nomination for the group.
The program, now in its fifth year, incorporates ombudsmen preparation and certification in partnership with the Arkansas Office of Long Term Care. All junior students take this required course and learn about advocacy for seniors.
The certification may be transferred to other states, as Harding's nursing majors come from across the U.S. The course also won the John A Hartford Foundation and American Association of Colleges of Nursing 2008 Undergraduate Curriculum Innovation in Teaching Award for Gerontology.
Harding had a record enrollment this year of more than 6,800 students from 49 states and 53 foreign countries. It is the largest private university in Arkansas and attracts more National Merit Scholars than any other private university in the state. Harding also maintains campuses in Australia, Chilé, England, France, Greece, Italy and Zambia.
(Source: Harding University)