International Journal of Nurse Practitioner Educators

Enhancing the Capacity for Care of the Elderly by Nurse Practitioners: A Report of Colorado’s Experience

Jane Kass-Wolff, Ernestine Kotthoff-Burrell, Nancy Smith


The population of older adults (those 65 years and above) is expanding at the rate of 10,000 persons daily. The elderly will grow from the current 12% of the total population to 20% in 2030. Today, the number of providers competent to provide the range of primary health care services (health promotion, disease prevention, acute episodic and ongoing care for multiple chronic illnesses) is inadequate. Nationally there are currently an estimated 7128 geriatricians. and only 3% of all advanced practice nurses are certified in gerontology.

National professional nursing organizations, the John A. Hartford Foundation, and the federal government took action to address the current and projected shortfall of competent providers. This manuscript describes a collaborative project funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration [HRSA] between the advanced practice nursing program [APRN] options at the University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus and the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs.

The aim of this collaboration is to increase the number of APRNs who acquire the requisite competencies to care for the complex needs of older adults. New curricula were developed and approved by the respective faculty groups after an extensive review of national standards and competencies, expanded health policy initiatives, and recommendations from former graduates currently engaged in providing primary health care in the community. Future plans include enhanced use of simulations; standardized patient scenarios; unfolding case studies and new evaluation methods are described.


geriatric; adult gerontology nurse practitioner; curriculum development

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