Engaging Nursing Students in Meaningful Education Pertaining to Gerontological Nursing Studies: A Qualitative Descriptive Study
Background: Older people are the greatest users of healthcare and nurses represent the largest number of healthcare professionals within the healthcare system to provide care to them. This fact highlights the need to understand how nursing students are learning to work with older people. Although studies identify that practicing nurses have gaps in their knowledge regarding the care of older people, these studies do not address how nursing curricula and education pertaining to gerontology needs to be improved. Conducting research surrounding nursing students’ experiences working with older people in their undergraduate nursing program can be used to improve how student nurses are learning about caring for older people. Methods: A descriptive qualitative analysis used conventional content and thematic analysis of interview transcriptions, to identify factors that influence students’ perceptions of working with older people and students’ learning needs related to working with older people. Findings: Three themes emerged from the data analysis: perceptions about working with older people, preparation to work with older people, and advice for improving education. Findings from this study showed that nursing students’ perceptions of working with older people were influenced by their clinical learning environment, past experiences, and theory courses that generally concentrate on adults as opposed to older people. Conclusion: There is a need for faculties to commit to providing more resources for a rich educational experience related to older people. Addressing ageist perspectives, in addition to how students learn and the learning environment in which they learn, will better prepare graduates for the future of nursing and positively impact the quality of the care older people receive. Implications for Nursing Practice: Enhancing the gerontology content within the nursing curriculum and the clinical environment could help increase the perception, willingness, and competence of graduating nursing students to contribute to positive health outcomes for older people.
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