BRONXVILLE N.Y. — When Claire Knaplund sat down for her first day of class, her teacher asked everyone what they thought of the elderly population. After the class responded with words like "cranky" and "incompetent," her teacher spent the rest of class dispelling these notions. It was at that moment that Knaplund discovered her life's calling.
The Concordia College nursing student went on to become the recipient of the National Gerontological Nursing Association (NGNA) Undergraduate Student Leadership Award. Knaplund was brought to Baltimore to accept the award by NGNA, an organization dedicated to improving the clinical care of the elderly population.
Spending time around people passionate about improving the lives of older adults was a great experience, said Knaplund.
"I was able to network there and meet really dynamic people including doctors and some of the other fellows," said Knaplund. "It left me feeling really positive about my own future, and how there's so much good I can do. There's so many awesome opportunities in this field that's rapidly growing."
Knaplund began her journey working with older adults by volunteering at a dementia unit. She was in charge of providing daytime activities for the patrons at a medical adult daycare center. She then decided to enter Concordia's nursing program to more thorough experience of what it's like to work in health facilities.
Working on a medical surgical unit is the next step to becoming a professional, said Knaplund.
"Finally, I would like to further my education and go back to school to become a geriatric nurse practitioner," said Knaplund. "I'm confident that we can find solutions to the problems in the our society concurring the elderly. This experience without question gave me a lot more direction about where I want my life to go."