With a shortage of primary care providers prepared to care for an aging U.S. population, nurse practitioner (NP) programs are integrating gerontological content. This qualitative descriptive study explored NP graduate perceptions on the adequacy of their education to prepare them to care for seniors.Methods:
Twenty-three graduates of NP program options at two universities in the western U.S. participated in focus group discussions or interviews. Participants shared their perceptions of their NP educational preparation and suggestions for enhancing gerontologic curriculum.Conclusions:
Four main domains emerged from analysis of qualitative data: (a) “Getting your boots on and getting into the role”; (b) “Older people are more complex than we were prepared to care for”; (c) “It is very different as a provider, but I am so glad I was a nurse with experience first”; (d) “NPs have a scope of practice, physician assistants (PAs) have a job description-but I wish we had their [procedural] preparation.”Implications for practice:
Graduates identified a need for more educational content and clinical experiences specific to the care of older adults. Some suggested a postgraduate residency or mentoring option to assist NP role transition and progression and limit role confusion.