Interdisciplinary graduate certificate program in gerontology enrolling now

With the opening of the fall semester, Radford University will offer a Graduate Certificate in Gerontology, its first-ever multi-disciplinary graduate-level certificate. 

The program was approved by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) in December 2015 and enrollment is underway now. 

"Regardless of their degree, students and professionals will benefit from this multidisciplinary approach to addressing the issues and problems faced by aging Americans," said Dennis Grady, dean of the College of Graduate Studies and Research. "It is Radford’s first program to be built around a problem, not a discipline. This collective approach is a new wave."

The innovative program will prepare graduate students for the evolving field of collaborative care and service to geriatric patients or clients. The 15-credit hour certificate, an add-on program to a disciplinary degree, will be awarded after completion of an interprofessional framework of courses reflecting biological, psychological, sociocultural and therapeutic aspects related to the functional challenges faced by individuals as they age.

Two years in development, the program is the product of the Interprofessional Gerontology Consortia (IGC), chaired by Virginia Burggraf, the university’s Marcella J. Griggs Distinguished Professor in Gerontological Nursing.

The IGC brought faculty together from the Colleges of Business and Economics, Education and Human Development, Visual and Performing Arts and Humanities and Behavioral Sciences as well as the Waldron College of Health and Human Services. Among the disciplines engaged in the certificate’s development were nursing, business, occupational therapy, music therapy, physical therapy, counselor education, social work and psychology.

"Students will be immersed in the challenges faced by older Americans and those that serve them," said Burggraf. "Through a variety of professions coming together, the program will explore the current modalities that exist within the various specialties to best treat and serve this ever-growing population."

The certificate program was introduced at the inaugural Interprofessional Gerontology Symposium in April 2015, keynoted by Virginia Secretary of Health and Human Resources Dr. William A. Hazel Jr. 

At the symposium, the aging population was characterized by World Health Organization (WHO) data indicating that between the years 2000 and 2050, the number of people in the world over age 60 will increase from 605 million to 2 billion. This proportion of the American population will increase to 21 percent by 2050 from 13 percent now, according to the Pew Research Center.

"It is there, it is real and it matters. It is important to keep people in their communities and empower their natural support," said Hazel who lauded Radford’s proactive role, saying, "Your approach is innovative and we are glad you are taking it."

"Health care is one of many industries experiencing massive changes due to the demographics of the aging population," said Burggraf, "Radford University is bringing professionals from all fields together and making them conversant in gerontology-the study of the social, psychological, cognitive and biological aspects of aging."

For more information about Graduate Certificate in Gerontology program, contact the College of Graduate and Research Studies at (540) 831-5431.

Feb 12, 2016