URI gerontology professor awarded Fulbright Fellowship to study in Norway

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KINGSTON, R.I. — May 9, 2006 — A University of Rhode Island gerontology professor has been named a Fulbright Fellow to expand research partnerships with colleagues and enhance understanding of how context and culture shape the practice of geriatric health care at Buskerud University College in Drammen, Norway.

Professor Phillip G. Clark, the director of both the URI Program in Gerontology and the Rhode Island Geriatric Education Center at URI, will spend January through June 2007 in Norway teaching and carrying out several research projects. His proposed research, which includes the examination of opportunities and obstacles relating to inter-professional education in the health professions in Norway, led to his selection.

One of about 800 faculty and professionals who will travel to about 150 countries, Clark describes his thoughts on being chosen for a Fulbright Fellowship: “It’s an honor to be chosen…I am excited and enthusiastic about being able to go (to Norway),” said the West Kingston resident.

Fulbright Scholars are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement and for their extraordinary leadership potential.

While in Norway, Clark will teach gerontology-related courses at Buskerud University College in its newly formed Master of Health Studies program. “This program is an example of an exciting interdisciplinary health professions opportunity for nurses and other health care professionals and is evidence of Norway’s commitment to improving health care for all its citizens,” said Clark.

In addition to teaching, Clark hopes to gain insight into how Norwegians train health professions students to collaborate. “I am also looking forward to researching how people who are already working as clinicians collaborate or have trouble collaborating.”

Consistent with the purpose of the Fulbright Fellowship award, Clark aims to foster understanding between people in the United States and Norway, between individuals at Buskerud University and URI. “Particularly, our hope is to use this as a way of developing further collaborative research projects involving faculty and students from the university there with faculty and students from URI,” said Clark.

The Fulbright Program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. During its 60 years of existence, thousands of U.S. faculty and professionals have studied, taught or done research abroad, and thousands of their counterparts from other countries have engaged in similar activities in the U.S.

According to Clark, Norway is also an ideal laboratory for the development of gerontological and geriatric educational programs since many of the European countries are ahead of the United States in terms of aging of the population. In 2000, the elderly population of Norway (65+) comprised 15.4 percent of the total population, as compared to the U.S. with 12.6 percent of the total population. “I would also like to explore developing a collaborative research project promoting health and healthy lifestyles among older people in Norway,” adds Clark.

Upon completion of his work in Norway, Clark plans to return to Rhode Island with new ideas, insights, and ways of thinking that he can apply to different URI academic programs and future research. “Every time I go overseas, it’s amazing how it opens up new horizons of thinking.

“My hope is that this is just the beginning of a collaborative relationship with faculty and students at this university in Norway,” said Clark.

URI News Bureau photo by Nora Lewis.