Reflection on Photographs: Exploring First-Year Nursing Students' Perceptions of Older Adults

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Title Reflection on Photographs: Exploring First-Year Nursing Students' Perceptions of Older Adults
Author Brand, Gabrielle; McMurray, Anne Mary
Journal Name Journal of Gerontological Nursing
Year Published 2009
Place of publication United States
Publisher Slack, Inc.
Abstract Nursing students' exposure to clinical placements with older adults is instrumental in helping them adopt positive attitudes toward care of that population. This qualitative pilot study analyzed perceptions and expectations of a group of first-year students prior to a clinical placement with older adults. A photo-elicitation technique, involving viewing of realistic photographs of older adults being cared for, was used to help students clarify expectations. This was followed by thematic analysis of their perceptions and expectations. Analysis revealed five main themes: Dissecting What It Means to Be a Nurse, Revisioning Therapeutic Relationships in Terms of Dignity, Youthful Reflection on the Differences Between Young and Old, Feeling Challenged and Confronted, and Experiencing Sensitivity and Awkwardness Toward Older Adults' Nakedness. Engagement with images of older adults encouraged students to anticipate their clinical placement in an aged care setting in a more meaningful, reflective way than they may have done without prior exposure, suggesting a need for realistic pre-practice education. Clinical placements engage nursing students to think, behave, and feel like nurses. During clinical placements, the culture and ethos of nursing with its complexities and challenges are discovered, often for the first time. Anecdotal evidence suggests this can be both terrific and terrifying, with students reporting that it can change the way they view the world (Levett-Jones & Bourgeois, 2007). This exploration of nursing students' perceptions and expectations of nursing care of older adults prior to their first clinical placement was intended to facilitate a personal exploration of what it means to be a nurse in the context of older adult care. An increase in the older adult population and a demand for nurses to care for them has prompted a growth in research exploring why nurses are not choosing aged care as a career (Abbey et al., 2006). Happell and Brooker's (2001) Australian study investigated the career preferences of Year 1 nursing students from nine undergraduate nursing education programs and found that caring for older adults was the least popular career choice. Students explained it as boring and unpleasant work and described being frustrated from a lack of ability to cope with this specialized area of practice. Ensuring positive attitudes in nursing students is a major challenge for those involved in preparing students for their first clinical placement with older adults. One way of responding to this challenge is to use creative teaching strategies; for example, maximizing personal and aesthetic ways of knowing to help students develop a more reflective approach to caring for older adults. Aesthetic knowing involves perception, empathy, insight, and understanding the lived experience of people.
Peer Reviewed Yes
Published Yes
Alternative URI http://dx.doi.org/10.3928/00989134-20091001-03
Copyright Statement Copyright 2009 SLACK Inc. This is the author-manuscript version of this paper. Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the journal website for access to the definitive, published version.
Volume 35
Issue Number 11
Page from 30
Page to 37
ISSN 0098-9134
Date Accessioned 2010-09-07
Date Available 2010-11-03T07:05:55Z
Language en_AU
Research Centre Centre for Health Practice Innovation
Faculty Griffith Health Faculty
Subject Nursing
URI http://hdl.handle.net/10072/34595
Publication Type Journal Articles (Refereed Article)
Publication Type Code c1x

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