‘With a bit of tweaking…we could be great’. An exploratory study of the perceptions of students on working with older people in a preregistration BSc (Hons) Nursing course

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Abstract

Background.

With ageing demographics, it is important that nurse education curriculum can prepare students to work with older people.

Aims and objectives.

To explore students’ perceptions of working with older people and the extent to which their preregistration curriculum is preparing them for this role.

Design.

A qualitative research design, incorporating focus groups in data collection.

Methods.

Four focus groups were held in January 2011, involving a total of 32 students undertaking a preregistration BSc (Hons) nursing degree course.

Results.

An overt focus in the preregistration curriculum on acute and critical care and perceived deficits in care of older people content left some students feeling underprepared to work with older people and to challenge ritualistic practice. Clinical placement experience and mentor support appeared to be influencing students’ decisions about whether they would consider working with older people in the future.

Conclusion.

Education providers should ensure that students are adequately prepared to work with older people and that students are supported when they observe poor practice. A finding that observation of ritualistic practice could prompt some students to consider working with older people, warrants further research.

Implications for practice.

Nurse educators should evaluate the content and delivery of their preregistration courses to ensure that the prerequisite knowledge, skills and attitudes required to work with older people are accorded appropriate value and attention.

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