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.
One million dollars. That is the total amount of funding disbursed to ten innovative pilot projects at the Pilot Heath tech event that I attended with Dr. Wexler on Tuesday, June 26. You would never guess that kind of money was going around in the cavernous, poorly lit hall in downtown Manhattan. Of the ten awards, two were awarded to Dr. Wexler, Dr. Drury and Dr. Coppola of Pace University to test two new technologies that will reduce health care costs and quality of care for older adults.
The three small fans tried valiantly to cool off the crowd at the Pilot Health event where temperatures soared to ninety-two degrees outside. Still, the oppressive heat did nothing to the ear to ear smile on my face for I felt I was in the presence of greatness. This is the sort of event I have been privileged to attend through my participation in the UGR program. Besides for the actual research experience, I am catching a glimpse of the innovation and the ground breaking ideas that are part of geriatric nursing. The technologies introduced at this event, like a glucometer that measures blood glucose through ocular tears instead of painful finger sticks, may well be the standard of care by the time I am a practicing nurse. Additionally, learning from a professional like Dr. Wexler is a unique opportunity. Her insights and experience are priceless, especially in a field as competitive as nursing.
The research project I am working on, called “The Impact of an Aging Sensitivity Experience on Nursing Students,” is a continuation of a project that Dr. Wexler and I began last year. The question this project addresses is whether the attitudes of nursing students toward older adults will change following aging sensitivity training. The training includes various props like ear plugs, specialized glasses, gloves, popcorn seeds, and several assistive devices, to give the students a feel for what it is like to be old.
The cohort that participated in the first part of this project included freshman university 101 students with nursing as their stated major. The current project focuses on the attitudes of CDP, or nontraditional, nursing students who have already earned a Bachelor’s degree in another area of study and are currently enrolled in the accelerated nursing program.
For this project, I will collect the pre-test data on the CDP students, administer the aging sensitivity training, and collect post-test surveys following the training. The pre and post-tests collect data with the use of tools such as the Kogan scale and the Palmore scale which evaluate students’ knowledge and attitudes toward older adults. Once all the data is in place, I will compare the results between the RN4 data and the CDP data. It will be interesting to see whether the attitudes and changes in attitudes differ between the two cohorts and if so, how they differ.