A Multi-Method Study of the Geriatric Learning Needs of Acute Care Hospital Nurses in Ontario, Canada

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Older people are at risk of experiencing functional decline and related complications during hospitalization. In countries with projected increases in age demographics, preventing these adverse consequences is a priority. Because most Canadian nurses have received little geriatrics content in their basic education, understanding their learning needs is fundamental to preparing them to respond to this priority. This two-phased multi-method study identified the geriatrics learning needs and strategies to address the learning needs of acute care registered nurses (RNs) and registered practical nurses (RPNs) in the province of Ontario, Canada. In Phase I, a survey that included a geriatric nursing knowledge scale was completed by a random sample of 2005 Ontario RNs and RPNs. Average scores on the geriatric nursing knowledge scale were in the “neither good nor bad” range, with RNs demonstrating slightly higher scores than RPNs. In Phase II, 33 RN and 24 RPN survey respondents participated in 13 focus group interviews to help confirm and expand survey findings. In thematic analysis, three major themes were identified that were the same in RNs and RPNs: (a) geriatric nursing is generally regarded as simple and custodial, (b) older people's care is more complex than is generally appreciated, and (c) in the current context, older people's care is best learned experientially and in brief on-site educational sessions. Healthcare providers, policy-makers, and educators can use the findings to develop educational initiatives to prepare RNs and RPNs to respond to the needs of an aging hospital population. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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