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Scholars Day: April 7, 2010

Attitudes of Nursing Students Towards Caring for the Elderly Population

The elderly population in the United States is large and growing steadily. Currently, it is estimated to be around 35 million people (United Stated Census Bureau, 2008)and by the year 2030 this number will grow to about 80 million people. The elderly (aged 65 and above) make up a majority of hospitalized patients. Why are nursing students so reluctant to work with them? In fact, Herdman (2000) suggests that gerontology is among the least preferred specialties chosen by nursing students. The purpose of this study was to examine the attitudes of nursing students towards working with the elderly in hopes of identifying and addressing factors which attribute to students decisions about working with this patient population. This study will make recommendations to address negative attitudes and accentuate positive attitudes in order to encourage gerontology as a career choice. An extensive review of the literature was conducted during summer 2009. Although a major gap in the literature was discovered on this topic, only articles published within the last nine years were included. A total of 15 articles dating from November 2000 to June 2009 were selected using the search engines Science Direct and EBSCO Host. Many of the articles suggested specializing in the field of gerontology was among the bottom career choice made by nursing students. The literature suggests a number of causes responsible for creating negative attitudes in nursing students. Abbey (2006) suggests that negative attitudes are formed during unpleasant clinical experiences. According to Cozort, (2008) nursing educators have a responsibility to increase knowledge and promote positive attitudes in their students. Nursing research done in other countries including Switzerland, Greece, Spain and Australia suggest that their nursing students had more positive attitudes because of the value their societies place on the elderly population. Dr. Margie Lovett-Scott, a nursing educator in the Department of Nursing at the College at Brockport, has collected five years of career preference surveys from over 300 former nursing students. This data will be analyzed and interpreted. Recommendations for improving attitudes in nursing students towards working with the elderly will be made based upon the study findings and recommendations by previous researchers.

Presenter: Roshoyah Bernard (Undergraduate Student)
Topic: Nursing
Location: 27 Hartwell
Time: 9:15 am (Session I)