Aging: An actuality that all must face; yet, out of a world population of more than 3 billion people, only a relative handful of health professionals are trained to treat its ever-changing effects. Nancy Hodgson, PhD, RN, and Julie Stanik-Hutt, PhD, ACNP/GNP-BC, CCNS, both experienced and committed to geriatric nursing, are working toward improving an exploding population of older adults.

For their work, each has received an award from the Gerontological Advanced Practice Nurses Association (GAPNA). Nancy Hodgson, PhD, RN, will be presented the Excellence in Research Award and Julie Stanik-Hutt, PhD, ACNP/GNP-BC, CCNS, the Excellence in Education Award.

Hodgson, part of the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing’s (JHUSON) Center for Innovative Care in Aging, has more than 20 years experience studying palliative care for older adults with complex healthcare needs. She has tested interventions to ease neuroendocrine distress in individuals with dementia and studied therapy interventions in nursing home residents with cancer. Hodgson has helped to spearhead advances in pain-easing nonpharmacologic interventions, provided palliative training materials to Pennsylvania nursing homes, and has offered tools to caregivers through the website “Palliative Dementia Care Resources.”

“When caring for our older patients, especially at the end of life, pain and symptom management are incredibly challenging,” says Hodgson. "Palliative care offers a philosophy of care that promotes quality of life and dignity and an organized system of care to allow older patients choice and control. My goal as a nurse researcher is to develop palliative interventions that nurses can apply at the bedside that still maintain the dignity of the patient.”

Julie Stanik-Hutt has led initiatives to increase the number of Advanced Practice Registered Nurses ready to serve older adults. She has served on expert panels that have developed the Adult/Gerontologic Primary Care and Adult/Gerontologic Acute Care Nurse Practitioner competencies, shared information about the new competencies at several national meetings, and assisted graduate faculty with integrating Gerontologic content into existing curricula. With the implementation of these new NP competencies, the American Association of Critical Care Nurses and the American Nurses Credentialing Center now offer new Adult / Gerontological Nurse Practitioner examinations for both Adult Primary and Adult Acute Care Nurse Practitioners.

The driving force behind the JHUSON integrating geriatric education into the adult primary and acute care NP curricula and the adult health and adult critical care Clinical Nurse Specialist curricula, Stanik-Hutt has also created relationships with local hospitals helping more than 65 students gain experience working with older adults in ambulatory and home-care environments.

“With nursing, as much as any profession, you learn by doing—experience is everything,” says Stanik-Hutt. “And we need to give more nurses greater experience in geriatric care to meet the health needs of our rapidly aging population. Time won’t wait on this one.”

Hodgson and Stanik-Hutt, who describes the award as “the kind of unexpected boost that makes all the hard work feel worthwhile,” will receive their awards at the GAPNA Annual Conference Awards Reception and Dinner on September 20.

An inter-professional initiative to develop, advance, and support the well-being of older adults and their families, The Center for Innovative Care in Aging uses novel approaches to enhance the yield of programs, policies, practices, and tools to help diverse older adults and family members remain healthy, independent, and living in their own homes and communities.