Rachelle L. Burleson


Population projections through 2050 show that the United States will experience considerable growth in people aged 65 and older, almost doubling 2012 population figures of 43.1 million (Ortman, Velkoff, & Hogan, 2014).  As people age, incidence of chronic disease increases and advances in medical care contribute to longer survival rates (Larson & Lubkin, 2009).  As a result, nurses are increasingly providing care for older adults. 


Students have a wide range of beliefs and attitudes regarding the elderly.  This purpose of this study is to determine the factors that influence changes in student nurses’ knowledge and attitudes toward caring for the elderly to promote high quality communication and delivery of care.  A descriptive pre- and post-clinical survey will be administered to nursing students who are assigned to an 88-hour clinical rotation with senior adults who live in a senior residential living community.  The surveys are composed of demographic data questions, free-text narrative answer questions that allow for expression of the student's unique perspective, and 5-point Likert scale questions that gauge intensity of response to level of student engagement and pre-identified influencing factors.


Student responses will be evaluated to: (1) determine what clinical activities and assignments are beneficial to students, and lead to increased student engagement with the elderly population; (2) further develop teaching strategies and clinical activities to more effectively meet student needs and increase student engagement with the elderly. 


Discussion involved consideration of (1) additional options that should be considered for identifying, collecting, and measuring influencing factors; (2) examination of the role of preconceptions on attitudes and learning; (3) data analysis strategies that should be considered for this project; (4) considerations that should be made in order to make comparisons between similar clinical groups with elderly populations.


Larsen, P. D., & Lubkin, I. M. (2009). Chronic illness: Impact and intervention (7th ed.). Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.

Ortman, J. M., Velkoff, V. A., & Hogan, H. (2014, May). An aging nation: The older population in the United States. Population estimates and projections. U.S. Census Bureau, P25-1140. Retrieved from https://www.census.gov/prod/2014pubs/p25-1140.pdf


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