The goal for this project was to compare data from RN4 nursing students and CDP nursing students to investigate whether a difference in attitudes and knowledge existed between the two groups of students before and after an aging sensitivity experience. The idea behind the comparison is that CDP students already have BA degrees in other areas and trend toward an older demographic than traditional RN4 students. In our case, surprisingly, the mean age between both groups was 20 years.
We used independent samples t-tests to compare pre and post test scores. We found statistically significant differences between pretest scores for the advocacy scale with no statistically significant difference in post test scores. For the Palmore scale we found no statistically significant difference in pretest scores – both groups scored very poorly indicating that both groups of students possessed little knowledge of aging and aging stereotypes before the intervention. Post test scores, however, did have statistical significance between the two groups of students. This means, following the intervention, students’ demonstrated greater knowledge of aging and aging stereotypes, with CDP students scoring higher than RN4. The Kogan scores showed statistically significant differences between pre and post test scores indicating that following the intervention the students’ demonstrated more positive attitudes toward aging, again, with CDP students scoring higher than RN4.
To sum up these results, the intervention expanded students’ knowledge about aging and improved on their attitudes on aging, with a greater change in CDP students than RN4 students. However, this did not translate in a greater interest in advocating for older adults.
Although, the results are in, this project is far from over. All nursing majors in University 101 courses and all CDP students will be asked to participate in this project in the upcoming fall semester. Gerontology is an expanding field, as I have mentioned previously. Most students will end up working with older adults upon graduation, which highlights the importance of this research project. The plan is to follow each cohort of nursing students throughout their nursing education and administer surveys to gather data as they progress through their gerontology nursing courses, leadership nursing courses and six months post graduation.
I am preparing an abstract of this project to present at the NGNA conference in the fall. This is a great lesson in professional development and continuing education. Hopefully, the data we collect can help alter the status quo where nursing students have little knowledge of this field and generate a greater interest in gerontology.