Aging Expert Weighs in on New Interdisciplinary Aging Program

Developed through UArizona Health Sciences Global and Online, new Innovations in Aging graduate programs follow guidance from Association of Gerontology in Higher Education (AGHE) and offer a rare, truly interdisciplinary approach to understanding aging and how to effectively implement positive change in interprofessional settings.

Among the team of experts that developed the Innovations in Aging Graduate Certificate is College of Pharmacy’s Jeannie Lee, PharmD, BCPS, BCGP, FASHP. We sat down with Dr. Lee to discuss how this new program will benefit budding pharmacists.

Why is aging an important area of study for modern health professionals?
Because baby boomers are aging across the globe—we have 10,000 people celebrating their 65th birthday every day in the U.S. alone—AGING IS AT THE FOREFRONT OF HEALTHCARE today. Many older adults have multiple chronic diseases and use exponentially more medications than younger adults do, requiring not only access to healthcare but coordinated, quality care.

What new aging course(s) are you currently developing?
I am currently developing the Interprofessional Practice, Communication and Older Adults course for the new Innovations in Aging Graduate Certificate. This is the only course in the certificate program that focuses specifically on interprofessional practice and how important communication is when working with the large team of experts having different backgrounds and training, and how to include the older adult in that team to foster healthy aging.

What have you enjoyed most about being part of the interdisciplinary team leading the development of Innovations in Aging programs?
I enjoy being part of a team of true experts who bring diverse perspectives in aging yet work together toward a common goal of providing an exciting global education on innovations in aging. I learn so much from the other executive committee members’ knowledge and experiences and their commitment to educating the next generation of healthcare professionals, researchers, managers, legal experts, social scientists, artists and more, who have a foundation in aging principles.

Aging is a focus area for interprofessional education and practice because it takes a team of experts to not only manage diseases (diagnostics and treatment), medications (polypharmacy and adherence) and physical function (therapies and devices), but also to facilitate healthy aging and disease prevention (nutrition, physical/mental/emotional/spiritual health, social engagement, environment…). We know that collaboration among health has been shown to improve patient outcomes.

What advice would you give to pharmacy students preparing to serve our aging population?
Acquire as much knowledge about aging and skills for elder care while you are a student because at almost every setting you practice, you will care for older adults and their care partners.

Applications are open for the interdisciplinary Innovations in Aging Graduate Certificate. For more information, visit  innovationsinaging.uahs.arizona.edu.