Graduate School of Management, gerontology department team up for new degree

New degree preps students for work in nursing homes

The Graduate School of Management and gerontology department worked together to create a degree for students interested in becoming efficient nursing home administrators.

Faculty from the College of Education Health and Human Services combined their bachelor’s degree in gerontology and nursing home administration with a master’s of business administration from the College of Business Administration.

The program will be available in Spring 2010.

Graduates seeking employment in administrative positions in long-term care will be more prepared to handle not only their residents, but the business side of their job, said Susan Augustine, academic program officer in the School of Family and Consumer Studies.

Augustine said opportunities in the field are growing due to a variety of the types of care the elderly can receive.

“Demand for long-term care administration is high due to the increasing number of assisted-living facilities, nursing homes and continuing care retirement communities,” Augustine said. “As baby boomers age, the demand will remain high.”

Students do not know the opportunities in gerontology because they do not know what it is, Augustine added. Graduates need business skills to be successful nursing home administrators early in their careers.

“Administrators are often in charge of marketing and finance departments,” Augustine said. “Students were able to get positions (as administrators) but weren’t as confident in them because they were doing a lot of learning on the job.”

Louise Ditchey, director of Graduate School Management, expects five to six students a year to participate in the program. She also estimates it will take students a little over five years to complete.

Mary Dellmann-Jenkins, interim director of the School of Lifespan Development and Educational Sciences, said students who take advantage of the program might be better prepared to take on administrative positions.

“Sometimes when students graduate they are intimidated by applying for management positions,” Dellmann-Jenkins said. “If they go through this program they have a higher level of rigor, and they feel more confident.”

This is not an easy program to get into, though. Only students with 90 undergraduate credits and at least a 3.3 GPA can apply. The course work begins as early as freshman year, when students would take 16 credit hours including Introduction to Gerontology and mathematics and critical reasoning.

Augustine said students considering the program should act on it as soon as freshman year. She added students considering entering the program should contact their advisor.

Dellmann-Jenkins said graduates of the existing gerontology and nursing home administration program are interested in the new degree.

“People in the work force have expressed interest in coming back and enrolling in the program,” Dellmann-Jenkins said.

Those students would only have to complete 60-65 hours.

Ditchey is pleased to have more majors involved in taking business classes.

“We will have a wider diversity of students with different career aspirations, which is always helpful,” Ditchey said.

Contact College of Education of Education Health and Human Services reporters Kelley Stoklosa at [email protected]. and Dwayne Yates at [email protected].