Does Gerontological Nursing Education and Personal Attitudes Toward Older Adults Influence New Nurses’ Intentions to Work in Aged Care Settings?
Background: In Ontario, the older adult population is steadily increasing, and the healthcare system is not equipped to effectively care for their needs. This is evidenced by the large number of Alternative Level of Care (ALC) beds within hospitals, and lengthy wait times for admission into a Long-Term Care (LTC) facility. As new LTC spaces are created, new nurses will be critical members of the healthcare team required to care for these patients. However, there is no current evidence about the intentions of registered nurses (RNs) and registered practical nurses (RPNs) who are newly registered with the College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO) to work in aged care facilities. There is also no data regarding their attitudes toward older adults, or how their nursing education influences these variables. Aim: The aim of this study was to examine how pre-licensure geriatric nursing education and personal attitudes toward older adults influence newly registered RNs’ and RPNs’ intentions to work in aged care. Method: A descriptive, cross-sectional design was used. A questionnaire that included the Kogan’s Attitudes Toward Old People (KAOP) Scale was mailed to newly registered RNs and RPNs across Ontario (n=1103). Results: Participants (n = 181) reported positive attitudes toward older adults (KAOP mean score = 166, SD = 24); however, their attitudes were not influenced by their education, and did not influence their intention to work in aged care. Forty-five percent of participants reported that their gerontological nursing education provided them with the knowledge, skill and judgement to care for the older adult population, and 14% of participants intend to work in an aged care setting within the next five years. Participants’ intentions to work in an aged care setting was positively associated with having multiple gerontological clinical placements (ß = 1.76, p < 0.05), and having a clinical placement in a LTC setting (Odds Ratio (OR) 2.30; p < 0.01). Conclusion: The findings support the need to provide nursing students with high quality gerontological nursing curriculum and clinical placements. Qualitative research is recommended to understand why new nurses in Ontario may not intend to work in aged care settings.