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Union County College’s national award-winning nursing educators: Professor Michele Cislo, Dr. Patricia Castaldi, and Elizabeth Galetz

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

CRANFORD  - On Sept. 19, the Union County College Practical Nursing Program earned national recognition from the National League for Nursing in receiving the Hearst Foundations’ Excellence in Geriatric Education Award.

The Hearst Foundations confer the award to nursing programs for demonstrating “exceptional innovation in teaching care of older adults.” Union and a college in Ohio are the only two institutions to earn the award in 2014.

The Hearst Foundations specifically cited Union for having developed an assessment tool that provided “a clever way for students to assess risk for senior-citizen patients.” Nursing Professor Michele Cislo describes the tool as a “concept map, with a rubric or decision tree for students to assess the needs of older adults.”

Past practice was far less organized. According to Professor Cislo, “The concept map enables students to follow clearly delineated procedures for risk assessment and response. In interviewing the patient, the student identifies the patient’s needs, including whether the patient cares for a significant other, whether the patient has morbidities such as diabetes or even trouble sleeping, eating. In the past, students would have to flip through papers to find the procedure required for a specific condition. With this tool, the student has an assessment rubric that is easy to follow and adhere to.”

Professor Cislo and Nursing Skill Lab Coordinator Elizabeth Galetz developed the award-winning concept map under the direction of Dr. Patricia Castaldi.

NLN President Marsha Adams and CEO Beverly Malone conferred the Hearst Foundations’ award to these Union County College employees during the NLN Education Summit in Phoenix, AZ, on Sept. 19.

Union County College President Margaret M. McMenamin praised Dr. Castaldi and the staff for “having embraced an effective strategy to provide better care for seniors. They have been working with the rest of the Practical Nursing faculty to integrate these approaches throughout the entire curriculum. I am extremely proud of their efforts and the receipt of this wonderful award that recognizes their commitment.”
Professor Cislo and Ms. Galetz presented their innovation in geriatric care to their nursing colleagues at the pre-Summit Invitational Advancing Care Excellence for Seniors workshop session on Sept. 17.  The presenters provided examples of the students' use of focused assessment tools for older adults.

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