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.
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