Virginia Geriatric Education Center (VGEC)

While most health care providers serve older adults in their practice, few have received formal education in gerontology or geriatrics.  The organizer of the annual Virginia Geriatrics Society conference notes that between 87%-92% of the healthcare professionals attending each conference do NOT have formal training in geriatrics. The VGEC, housed within the Virginia Center on Aging, strives to advance the quality of health care for older adults across the Commonwealth of Virginia and combat the shortage of professionals trained in geriatrics.

The VGEC is an interdisciplinary consortium of four partnering universities and many community partners. They are healthcare and aging specialists working together to develop and deliver training grounded in evidence-based practices and interprofessional teamwork.  

Federal funding of the VGEC as a Geriatric Workforce Enhancement Program (GWEP) is provided to increase the number of healthcare professionals who are trained in geriatrics and to reach out to areas of the state which are medically underserved.  Funding for this program is provided by the Bureau of Health Professions (BHPr), Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Department of Health and Human Services under Grant No. U1QHP28744 (Virginia Geriatric Education Center).

VGEC Mission: To improve the interprofessional education and training of health professionals in Virginia through faculty development, continuing education, and the clinical training of students in geriatrics.

Virginia Geriatric Education Center Logo


VGEC Plenary

The Plenary is the interprofessional team responsible for all initiatives of the Virginia Geriatric Education Center and its HRSA-funded Geriatric Workforce Enhancement Program (GWEP). This dedicated group meets regularly to collaborate and ensure success of the VGEC's many initiatives.

  • Chuck Alexander, MA - VCU Health
  • Peter Boling, MD - VCU Health
  • Trish Bonwell, RDH, PhD - VCU School of Dentistry
  • Connie Coogle, PhD - Virginia Center on Aging at VCU
  • Kimberly Davis, MS, RN - VCU School of Nursing
  • Sheryl Finucane, PhD, PT - VCU School of Physical Therapy
  • Robert Fix, PhD, MS, OTR/L - VCU Department of Occupational Therapy
  • Kevin Grunden, MS, CCC-SLP - VCU and Blue Ridge PACE
  • Bonita Hogue, MSW - VCU School of Social Work
  • Emily Ihara, PhD, MSW, FGSA - GMU Department of Social Work
  • Kim Ivey, MS - Virginia Center on Aging at VCU
  • Christine Jensen, PhD - Riverside Center for Excellence in Aging and Lifelong Health
  • Adrienne Johnson, MS - VirginiaNavigator
  • Sarah Marrs, PhD - Virginia Center on Aging at VCU
  • Jenni Mathews, BS - Virginia Center on Aging at VCU
  • Maddie McIntyre, BS - Virginia Center on Aging at VCU
  • Ethlyn McQueen-Gibson, DNP, MSN,RN-BC, Hampton University School of Nursing, Center for Gerontology Excellence
  • Pam Parsons, PhD, GNP-BC - VCU School of Nursing
  • Elvin Price, PharmD, PhD - VCU School of Pharmacy
  • Mary Rubino, MD - EVMS
  • Patty Slattum, PharmD, PhD, CGP - VCU School of Pharmacy
  • Pam Teaster, PhD - Virginia Tech Center for Gerontology
  • Jodi Teitlelman, PhD - VCU Department of Occupational Therapy
  • Cathy Tompkins, PhD, MSW - GMU Department of Social Work
  • Cindy Warriner, RPh, CDE - Health Quality Innovators
  • Bert Waters, PhD - Virginia Center on Aging at VCU
  • Emma Wheeler, PT, DPT, MS - VCU Department of Physical Therapy
  • Ishan Williams, PhD - UVA School of Nursing
  • Kristin Zimmerman, PharmD, CGP - VCU School of Pharmacy

VGEC Education and Training Initiatives

The VGEC is involved in a number of initiatives and education programs across the state. 

Interprofessional and Caregiver Education 

Caring for You: Mind, Body and Soul. 
Free educational video course for caregivers presented by The Riverside Center for Excellence in Aging and Lifelong Health in partnership with VirginiaNavigator.

Creating Interprofessional Readiness for Complex & Aging Adults (CIRCAA). 
A faculty and clinician development program.

Dementia-focused conferences, training, and workshops

Extension for Community Health Outcomes (ECHO) programs on aging with lifelong disabilities

Mason Music & Memory Initiative (M3I). 
A program that “Improves the quality of life of persons living with dementia by using personalized music to access long-held joyful memories and positive emotions.”

Rappahannock EMS: Training on dementia and advanced care planning.

Substance Use Disorder and Older Adults

A non-pharmacological dementia care intervention from GMU. A case study about TimeSlips was featured in the 
Fall 2013 issue of Age in Action.

Virginia Association of Area Agencies on Aging regional trainings

Student and Clinical Training

Extension for Community Health Outcomes (ECHO) programs for medical students

Neurocognitive and Functional Assessment Experience. The VGEC and VCU Health coordinate this program that sends first-year medical students to area assisted living facilities to conduct neurocognitive assessments.

Reynold's Virtual Case Studies

Senior Mentoring. The VGEC and VCU Health coordinate this program to match first-year medical students with community-dwelling older adults for a series of interviews.

Partnership Initiatives for Older Adults

VCU Health Nursing Home ECHO

Eastern Virginia Medical School's Senior Strong Program

Oral health initiative with VCU's School of Dentistry and Lucy Corr Village

Research and programming related to falls and opioid abuse with the Richmond Health and Wellness Program

University of Virginia's Memory & Aging Care Clinic


A telehealth educational program for nursing home staff, residents, and residents’ families

Nursing homes registered for the Spring 2022 program: Program Details

Program Overview

When it comes to your workforce and your residents, what matters most? What is most important to their wellbeing? How can you improve the quality of life for your residents? How can you build a sense of community?

Johns Hopkins University, Penn State, and Virginia Commonwealth University are working together to help you answer these questions.  Guided by the IHI Age-Friendly 4 Ms (What Matters, Medication, Mentation, and Mobility), we will use a telehealth platform to engage your staff, residents, and family/caregivers.  Our goal is to foster professional partnerships between nursing homes and academic health centers, enhance educational opportunities, and ultimately, improve health outcomes and quality of life for nursing home residents.

Participating nursing homes will be provided educational support and services, including a special session on the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine.

For Your Nurses (RNs and LPNs):

  • Six brief educational sessions with your RNs and LPNs. CEs will be awarded.
  • Topics covered: the 4Ms including behavioral and mental health conditions (dementia, delirium, and depression); health disparities; medications, including vaccinations in nursing homes; post-COVID impact, workforce preparedness/enhancement; and strengthening the workforce community 
  • Two focus group sessions with your nurses to gauge effectiveness of educational content. 

For Your CNAs:

  • 12 brief educational videos/sessions for your CNAs. These will be asynchronous.  
  • One-page summaries of sessions will be made available.
  • Two focus group sessions with your CNAs to gauge effectiveness of the educational sessions. These will be held off-work hours, and the attendees will be compensated for their time.
  • Topics covered: behavioral and mental health conditions, including dementia, delirium, and depression; health disparities; COVID-19 and post-COVID care.

For Your Residents and Their Families and/or Caregivers:

  • During a regularly scheduled Resident/Family Council meeting, we will lead a discussion on What Matters Most to your residents and their family members and/or caregivers. 
  • Resources will be provided on regional long-term care and community-based services as well as resources to help convey to others What Matters Most including a “4 Ms Worksheet” and video for families and residents. 

Nursing Home Leadership Responsibilities:

  • Introductory meeting with staff and leadership; Collaborate on recruitment and educational programs 
  • Monthly status meeting with leadership team; Meeting space for any in-person sessions
  • Assistance with attendance and compensation 
  • Quality Improvement information around Advance Care Planning, delirium and depression screening 
  • Debrief and sustainability of practice change
  • Program time frame: December 2021 – June 2022

For more information: Contact Bert Waters at

This project 3 U1QHP28744-06-02 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 $375,000 with 0 percentage financed with nongovernmental 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