Arkansas Geriatric Education Collaborative at UAMS Awarded $2.3 Million by Health Resources and Services Administration

By Ben Boulden

The collaborative is led by Ronni Chernoff, Ph.D., professor in the UAMS College of Medicine’s Department of Geriatrics.

Since 1997, a similar collaborative has provided geriatric training for an array of health care professionals, but for the first time, this new funding will enable the collaborative to provide appropriate training to lay caregivers, direct care workers, and first responders in addition to health care professionals and students.

“We were awestruck and grateful that we were awarded this grant,” Chernoff said. “We felt extremely fortunate, and we’re excited that we will be providing training to groups of people we’ve never been able to reach before. The grant was very competitive and not all our peer institutions in other states received funding.”

Chernoff said the collaborative will work with multiple partners at state universities as well as at the UAMS Centers on Aging operating in all the major regions of Arkansas. The centers are a part of the Arkansas Aging Initiative, a program of the UAMS Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging.

“I think it’s great that HRSA recognized that lay caregivers and first responders need training with how to deal with issues like dementia in patients,” Chernoff said. “We’re also very fortunate to have the Centers on Aging, located all across the state, to support and provide some of this training.”

Arkansas faces immense challenges in its health care delivery system that stem from a high proportion of low-income elderly who have limited access to health care. Arkansas is a rural state with 73 of 75 counties fully or partially medically underserved.

In addition to the needs and demand in rural Arkansas, there are new legal requirements. The Arkansas Lay Caregivers Act that was passed this year aims to ease transitions from hospital to home for patients and their caregivers. Under the new law, a caregiver designated by the patient will be notified before the patient is discharged from the hospital. The hospital will consult with the caregiver on how to care for the patient after returning home.

UAMS is the state's only health sciences university, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; a hospital; a main campus in Little Rock; a Northwest Arkansas regional campus in Fayetteville; a statewide network of regional campuses; and seven institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Psychiatric Research Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, Translational Research Institute and Institute for Digital Health & Innovation. UAMS includes UAMS Health, a statewide health system that encompasses all of UAMS' clinical enterprise. UAMS is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has 3,275 students, 890 medical residents and fellows, and five dental residents. It is the state's largest public employer with more than 12,000 employees, including 1,200 physicians who provide care to patients at UAMS, its regional campuses, Arkansas Children's, the VA Medical Center and Baptist Health. Visit or Find us on Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), YouTube or Instagram.