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Shaping student nurses’ attitudes towards older people through learning and experience.

Vivien Rodgers, RN, BA, GDGN, MN. Lecturer, School of Health & Social Services. Massey University, Palmerston North
Jean Gilmour, RN, PhD. Senior Lecturer, School of Health & Social Services. Massey University, Wellington

Rodgers, V., & Gilmour, J. (2011). Shaping student nurses’ attitudes towards older people through learning and experience. Nursing Praxis in New Zealand, 27(3), 13-20.

Abstract

This paper reports an exploratory New Zealand study comparing student nurses’ attitudes towards older people before and after an introductory nursing paper that included gerontology theory and clinical practice in an aged care setting. Health professionals are exposed to ageist attitudes that permeate Western societies. Theoretical content and clinical experiences in nursing programmes should lead to attitudes that inform the practice of competent and caring practitioners. The Kogan Attitudes Towards Old People Scale (1961) was administered to 56 student nurses at the beginning and end of the first semester of study in a Bachelor of Nursing programme. The results showed a statistically significant positive shift in students’ self reported attitudes towards older people following the integrated theoretical and clinical paper. The findings contribute to the international evidence supporting the view that education about ageing shapes attitudes when integrated with positive clinical placement opportunities.

Key words: ageism, nursing, education, attitudes

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