Debra Bakerjian, an associate adjunct professor at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis, is among the 72 new fellows of the Gerontological Society of America. Leaders of the nation’s largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to the field of aging announced this year’s class at the International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics World Congress in San Francisco July 25.
“I have loved caring for older adults since early in my career as a nurse practitioner. There is a tremendous need for them to have competent clinicians to ensure their physical and social well-being, as well as improve the organizational quality and safety systems upon which these vulnerable people depend,” Bakerjian said. “I am humbled to be associated with the giants in gerontology whom I have admired for so many years. It affirms, for me, that my research has meaning and is valued.”
Bakerjian’s research aims to maximize the role of advanced practice nursing and improve the quality of care for aging populations. Her research focuses on the roles of nurse practitioners and physician assistants, patient safety and quality improvement practices in long-term care settings, and interprofessional education and practice. Bakerjian earned a Doctor of Philosophy in Health Policy and Gerontology in 2006 from UCSF School of Nursing. She continues her dissertation work examining the unique contribution of nurse practitioners to the care of older adults in nursing homes.
Currently, Bakerjian leads a collaboration between the School of Nursing and the California Association of Health Facilities on a quality improvement initiative aimed at improving dementia care in skilled nursing facilities
According to the association, its fellow distinction comes at varying points in a person’s career and is given for diverse activities that include research, teaching, administration, public service, practice and notable service to the society.
“This accomplishment acknowledges Dr. Bakerjian’s outstanding and continuing work in the field of gerontology and in collaboration with others focused on the aging population,” said Heather M. Young, founding dean of the School of Nursing and a nationally recognized gerontological expert. “Her contributions in education, practice and research, along with her passion for older adults, highlight the School of Nursing’s commitment to partnering with individuals and families throughout their lives.”
The principal mission of the Gerontological Society of America is to advance the study of aging and disseminate information among scientists, decision makers and the general public. Bakerjian says the interprofessional nature of the group demonstrates inclusivity of different professionals—all of whom are dedicated to touching the lives of older adults—who can collaborate without hierarchy.