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USI receives $5 million to renew Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program

June 25, 2024

The University of Southern Indiana’s College of Nursing and Health Professions has received $5 million in federal funding from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to continue the Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program (GWEP) for an additional five years. USI and its partners are among an elite group, working with 41 new or returning GWEPs. 

This funding is the largest federal grant the USI College of Nursing and Health Professions has received. It also is the largest federal grant USI has received for academic programs and community partnerships. 

In 2019, USI was awarded a $3.7 million grant from HRSA to implement the GWEP as a five-year project to improve health outcomes for older adults in underserved communities of southwest Indiana by developing a workforce to maximize patient and family engagement and integrate geriatrics into primary care. Earlier this year, as the end of the funding cycle neared, USI reapplied for funding to continue the GWEP, according to Dr. Katie Ehlman, Professor of Gerontology and Director of USI’s Bronstein Center for Healthy Aging and Wellness.  

“This new funding allows our team to continue to focus on integrating age-friendly and dementia-friendly initiatives in primary care. Additionally, this funding supports innovative ways to address nursing home workforce shortages by creating clinical pipelines, including a Pre-Apprenticeship Program through the Indiana Office of Work-Based Learning and Apprenticeship (OWBLA), as well as a U.S. Department of Labor-registered Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) Apprenticeship Program,” says Ehlman. “It is an honor for USI to work with partners across organizations with the goal of improving the lives of older adults by educating the geriatric care workforce.” 

For the next five years, the USI GWEP will continue to partner with Deaconess Health and its family medicine residency and geriatric fellowship programs and Area Agencies on Aging (Generations and SWIRCA & More), the Alzheimer’s Association and many other organizations to integrate geriatrics within primary care and other specialties using the Age-Friendly Health Systems Framework and dementia curriculum, serving a largely rural and underserved region of southwestern Indiana and western Kentucky. 

“What has always made the USI GWEP unique is our intentional work across organizations to create a shared space to serve our community. Our funding will allow us to grow our model of having care managers from Generations and SWIRCA & More integrated into Deaconess primary care clinics. We will move from three clinics to 13 clinics by the end of the funding period,” says Ehlman. “Plus, with our new funding, we will establish a consortium of nursing homes to improve care for older adults through evidence-based programming and innovative AI applications. 

The USI GWEP will also focus on new clinical partnerships with USI’s College of Nursing and Health Professions and work more closely with the Southwestern Indiana Area Health Education Center (AHEC), hosted at USI, to create employment pipelines for Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), Master of Science in Occupational Therapy (MSOT) and Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) students in rural and medically underserved areas. 

The University of Southern Indiana Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an award totaling $5,000,000 with 0% percentage financed with non-governmental sources. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS, or the U.S. Government. For more information, please visit 

For more information about this project and to get involved, visit 

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