The Division of Geriatric Medicine is known nationally for its Learning By Living © Ethnographic Research project, as well as for its attainment of medical student research fellowships. The information on this page will illustrate some of the areas developed in clinical and biomedical research.

Learning by Living©

The Learning by Living© Project was designed and implemented in 2005 by Dr. Marilyn Gugliucci and has continued to expand through the years. Medical students are “admitted” into nursing homes to “Live the Life” of an elder nursing home resident for approximately two weeks – 24/7 – complete with a medical diagnosis and standard procedures of care. This project utilizes a qualitative ethnographic research design, whereby a “culture” is observed from the researcher (medical student) living within the environment (nursing home). This program appears to be the first of its kind in any medical training program and has been featured in the New York Times, AOL Health, The Boston Globe, Sirius Radio, and other major media spots. A documentary filmed on the project by an independent film producer located in New York City was due to be released in the spring of 2011.

Learning by Living @ Home

Learning by Living @ Home is a newly developed and implemented program. During the summer of 2010, two courageous COM students set out to live in the home for one week of a person with either advanced Parkinson's disease or Alzheimer's disease and the older adult caregiver. Thus far the project is educating about the challenges of being 80 years old and the primary caregiver for a spouse with Parkinson's disease. Students in the project will be addressing such questions as: "As a future physician, what do I need to be aware of when I have an older adult caregiver come to me for health care?"  and "Why is it important for me to understand the caregiver experience?" These answers will be tackled through the use of qualitative ethnographic research methods. The Maine Alzheimer's Association and Maine Parkinson's Association are partners in this project, as is Edward Drasby, D.O, Neurologist at Port City Neurology. 

Student Fellowships and Scholarships

The Division of Geriatric Medicine has been awarded the highest number of American Federation for Aging Research (AFAR) Fellowships for medical students of all osteopathic medical schools nationally (19 applications, 14 funded projects (2003-2010). The AFAR Fellowship Program is quite a competitive and prestigious national fellowship. 

In addition, the division continues to boast high numbers of students awarded research/scholarship fellowships for the Betty Ford Summer Institute for Medical Students; IRETA Substance Abuse Fellowship; RREMS Rehabilitative Medicine Fellowship; the COM Dean’s Research Fellowship; the Pettapiece Fellowship; and others.

All students who are awarded fellowships present at national and local meetings to enhance professional development and complement students’ CVs. Work on publications is also supported through the division.

Humanism in Aging Awards

The University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine is the only medical school to institute the Humanism in Aging Leadership Award for accomplished geriatricians as well as the Humanism in Aging Action Award for the COM student and/or resident that has submitted an action plan in an adjudicated venue that addresses the question: "How will you apply what you learned from the Humanism in Aging Leadership Award Winner’s lecture in your future practice?” Both awards were initially funded by Gold Foundation.

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Hospice Home Immersion Project

The UNECOM Learning by Living 48 Hour Hospice Home Immersion Project (referred to as Hospice Home Immersion Project) was piloted in December 2014. It was designed and implemented as an experiential medical education learning model by Marilyn R. Gugliucci, PhD, Director of Geriatrics Education and Research, within the Medical School’s Department of Geriatric Medicine.

Medical students immersed in the Hospice Home Immersion Project are active participants in patient, family and post-mortem care during the 48-hour immersion. 

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