2014 Gerontology Honors Graduates

By Christi Richardson


Our first cohort of seven students (one from each five campuses) graduated with a "Gerontology Honors Distinction" from the Undergraduate Gerontology Nursing Honors Program (GNHP). The program is designed for nursing students in any OHSU School of Nursing undergraduate program to receive mentorship and credits related to working with older adults. In addition, scholarship funding is available. 

Ruth TadesseRuth Tadesse, R.N., M.S. and program director of the GNHP program says of the program, "it helps our students to achieve gerontological nursing knowledge, skills and attitudes required for entry into advanced gerontological nursing practice."

GNHP students complete specialized online contentin pathophysiology, pharmacology, chronic illness and acute care nursing during the first year of the program. During the second and final year, GNHP students take a 1-credit Gerontology Nursing Honors Seminar for three quarters to help them prepare their final project, the Gerontological Nursing Honors Thesis. The thesis is a formal paper on a gerontological nursing topic of the student’s choice.Tamara Whittle

Tamara Whittle, BS with a major in nursing student on the Monmouth campus, loved the online component of the program because it allowed for some flexibility in her schedule. She liked that she could “hear speakers from Ph.D. students who talked about evidence tables and literature synthesis, to getting writing help or coaching from Hill Taylor, Ph.D., assistant professor and director of learning support.” The program also helped Whittle take a step back and take a more global view of her patients.

Students accepted into the program must demonstrate a strong commitment to the care of older adults. In addition to the already rigorous nursing program,the GNHP requires an additional time commitment from each student. A faculty advisor was chosen for each student from among the many faculty at the School who have expertise in gerontology.

Ann Miles, BS with a major in nursing student on the La Grande campus who had worked in assisted living prior to enrolling, was excited about the program because it was an opportunity to explore gerontology more fully. “It was an overwhelming experience, but in the best way,” Miles said. “I always felt I had support from faculty and it was neat to work with students from other campuses. I came away with a better understanding of gerontology and it stretched me in different and unexpected ways."

Whittle agreed. “It was valuable to work closely with faculty advisors and have a peer mentor to help us transition from nursing student to professional nurse.”

Students’ transcripts will show that they graduated with “Gerontology Honors Distinction” and graduates are given an “Honors Medallion” at graduation.

Two years from now, when the funding ends, the program hopes to be offered in a different way. One option is as an online module and the seminars as an elective course to students who are interested in gerontology. Students from each of the five campuses will have options to take the elective course.

Tadesse says, “Students who complete this program are in a great position to transition and become scholars, practitioners and researchers in the field of gerontology.”

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