When people ask me why I became interested in geriatric physical therapy, I really can’t pinpoint the moment I knew this would be my career path. Many others have fabulous, even heroic stories about a relative or prior work experience or a higher calling, but my reasoning experience was a compounding of multiple experiences, all facilitated by fantastic leaders within the field of geriatric rehab.
As an undergraduate at Northern Arizona University, I had the distinct honor of working with a professor named Dr. Tinna Traustadottir. She was a fearsome woman from Iceland who taught our 400-level capstone course for the Exercise Science degree program. Her background was in exercise to promote healthy aging, and her passion and advocacy for the topic was infectious. That last year of classes was not only the most terrifying, but also the most rewarding of any of the semesters I’d had at the university. Her positive attitude towards healthy aging was contagious and I was hooked.
As a result, I entered PT school knowing that I wanted to pursue a career working with older adults and only fell deeper in love with the topic. I worked with Dr. Heather Braden during my first year in the Doctor of Physical Therapy program at Angelo State University both through coursework and through my research capstone project. Dr. Braden was incredibly passionate about her love for “the older folks,” as she always put it, and was a pleasure to be in class with. As I dove further into my curriculum in the DPT program, entered the clinical workforce, and studied for my GCS boards, the complexity, challenge, and reward that caring for older adults brought me was immeasurable.
The other large draw that keeps me interested in geriatric rehabilitation is the required depth and width to be a successful rehab provider for older adults. One needs to understand both the primary and secondary aging systems and common pathologies, but also how to navigate an increasingly complex health care system, have a thorough understanding of all the body systems (musculoskeletal, cardiopulmonary, neuromuscular, neurocognitive, integumentary, etc… you have to be a jack of all trades to understand the aging person!), and delicate end of life issues. I can see three older adult patients in the clinic with the same medical history and have three extremely different individuals on the other side of the evaluation room door waiting for me. This complexity keeps me motivated and interested as there is always a new skill to develop or treatment style to learn. As a result, I’ve never had a dull moment in my career.
Just as my passion for working with older adults has slowly developed over time, I have heard similar stories from other professionals regarding their interests. One common theme that I have noticed is that each of these individuals can name a person who influenced their decision to further pursue this dream. Face-to-face exposure with older adults is important for developing a comfort level with this population, but so is being surrounded by other clinicians and professionals who LOVE older adult care. These mentors serve as a catalyst for the already brewing interests and predispositions in clinicians. Without solid mentors and leaders in the geriatric physical and occupational therapy worlds, early career professionals may not become interested in the topic and thus, older adult care would suffer. It was the mentors along my path at the academic, clinical, and later professional level which all helped to keep me inspired and I am forever grateful to those individuals.
This is exactly what the Evidence in Motion (EIM) Geriatric Certification Program is addressing. EIM has updated the geriatric certification content to provide for the needs of clinicians at many levels of their career. Graduates from our programs serve as examples of clinical care for others, helping to drive forward the culture change required in proper exercise prescription/dosing, elimination of ageist care practices, and other barriers which limit clinical outcomes. As such, I am proud to introduce both the Foundational Geriatric Certification and the Advanced Geriatric Certification.
Both programs include recently updated curriculum taught by experts in the field of geriatric rehabilitation across multiple disciplines including occupational therapy, pharmacy, and physical therapy across multiple board-certified specialties including geriatrics, orthopedics, neurology, and integumentary. This program is the only program that has multiple professionals providing content, giving you unparalleled access to cross-specialty and interprofessional collaboration and knowledge. These classes have been designed not only to provide clinicians with the most important, highest-rated quality evidence to provide better clinical care, but also to create role models who can lead by example in what best clinical practice looks like to help to inspire those around them and inspire the cultural change that geriatric physical therapy so desperately needs.
Foundational Geriatric Certification
The Foundational Geriatric Certification Program serves as an introduction to the essentials of rehab principles required for physical and occupational therapy professionals who occasionally work with older adults or who are just interested in learning more and sharpening their skills in a more casual learning environment. Open to PTs, OTs, PTAs, and COTAs, this program is ideal for the early career professional or the more seasoned outpatient clinician who wants to improve their outcomes with older adult patients to provide best-practice care in ANY setting. The cost is $2,500 for 5 courses over 4-6 months including:
- GERI 6110: Introduction to Geriatric Rehabilitation (4 weeks, online, self-paced)
- GERI 6150: Exercise Prescription in Older Adults (4 weeks, online, self-paced)
- GERI 6520WI: Management of Orthopedic Conditions in Older Adults (onsite, 2-day, in person, weekend intensive)
- GERI 6510WI: Management of Balance and Falls in Older Adults (onsite, 2-day, in person, weekend intensive)
- GERI 6140: Wellness and Health Promotion in Geriatric Rehabilitation (4 weeks, online, self-paced)
Advanced Geriatric Certification
The Advanced Geriatric Certification Program serves as an immersive learning experience for professionals who consistently work with older adults and want to provide the highest level of quality care. This program address care in all settings from acute care to health promotion and wellness to hospice. Open to PTs and OTs, this 12-month program, costing $6,300, includes 12 courses carefully crafted to address the detail and complexity required to provide the utmost quality of clinical care for the older adult population. In addition to the learning experiences in the foundational program, advanced learners will take part in three faculty-led courses taught by experts in the topic, create their own patient care reflections through our Virtual Case Rounds assignments, and learn the content on a much deeper level which allows for quicker translation of skilled to clinical practice. This content gives the learner unprecedented access to dozens of professionals in a way that no other course provides. The content includes the following:
- EBP 6100: Evidence-Based Practice I (4 weeks, online, self-paced)
- *GERI 6110: Introduction to Geriatric Rehabilitation (4 weeks, online, self-paced)
- *GERI 6150: Exercise Prescription in Older Adults (4 weeks, online, self-paced)
- GERI 6120: Cardiopulmonary Conditions in Older Adults (6 weeks, online, self-paced)
- GERI 6230: Neurologic Conditions in Older Adults (6 weeks, online, faculty-led)
- GERI 6520: Management of Orthopedic Conditions in Older Adults (8 weeks, online, faculty-led)
- *GERI 6520WI: Management of Orthopedic Conditions in Older Adults (onsite, in person, weekend intensive)
- GERI 6510: Management of Balance and Falls in Older Adults (8 weeks, online, faculty-led)
- *GERI 6510WI: Management of Balance and Falls in Older Adults (onsite, in person, weekend intensive)
- 1 Elective (4 weeks, online, self-paced)
- *GERI 6140: Wellness and Health Promotion in Geriatric Rehabilitation
- GERI 6130: Integumentary Conditions in Geriatric Rehabilitation
- GERI 6160: Regulatory, Legal, and Policy in Geriatric Rehabilitaion
- GERI 6210: Hospice and End of Life Considerations for the Older Adult (4 weeks, online, self-paced)
- GERI 7080: Geriatric Capstone Exam (4 weeks, online, self-paced)
* included in the Foundational Geriatric Certification.
Additionally, if you take the Foundational Geriatric Certification and qualify to take the Advanced Geriatric Certification, your tuition will be pro-rated and you do not need to retake the courses you already completed. Both programs launch twice a year in the Winter (January start) and Summer (July). Our first cohort for the new foundational program will be July 2023!
If you have any questions about the Geriatric Certification Programs, please reach out to the program director, Heidi Moyer, at [email protected].