Geriatrics course developed at VCU to be licensed to other universities

Share this story

With a reputation for one of the most advanced programs in web-based geriatric education, the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine’s latest course offering is now being licensed to other universities across the nation.

The innovative system for interactive Web-based interprofessional education was first designed in 2010. By the end of the 2015 academic year, more than 1,500 senior students from VCU’s Schools of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy and Social Work will have trained in this semester-long program.

Working in interdisciplinary teams of eight, the students are assigned a fictional scenario of a complex geriatric case, with each student receiving only the information typically available to that student’s discipline. They must use an electronic record simulator to share information, and they determine the best course of care on a discussion board, which helps the team answer 65 challenging multiple-answer questions that reflect real-world situations.

“In an actual health care environment, physicians, nurses, social workers and pharmacists have different perspectives on any given patient,” said Peter A. Boling, M.D., professor of internal medicine and chair of the Division of Geriatric Medicine. “Interprofessional training is becoming a national priority because health care, especially for complex cases, requires an interactive team of professionals from multiple disciplines. The LCME [Liaison Committee on Medical Education] has made it a specific item upon which medical schools are now surveyed.”

The course was created with support from a $1 million grant from Donald W. Reynolds Foundation. VCU was just one of 10 institutions in the country selected to receive the four-year funding. Two medical school programmers, Chris Stephens and Joel Browning, designed the course’s computer program.

Boling and the course’s co-creator Alan Dow, M.D., presented the program at the national meeting of the Reynolds Foundation grant recipients where it was well-received by an audience of 250 seasoned educators. The program is now being licensed to other universities for geriatric interprofessional training. The first users in 2014 are the University of North Texas in Fort Worth, the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque and the University of Kansas in Kansas City.

“We want everyone who graduates from medical school and other professional schools to understand geriatric medicine and team-based care,” Boling said.


Subscribe for free to the weekly VCU News email newsletter at and receive a selection of stories, videos, photos, news clips and event listings in your inbox every Thursday. VCU students, faculty and staff automatically receive the newsletter.