Journal of Gerontological Nursing

CNE Article 

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

Gabrielle Brand, MN, BN; Anne McMurray, RN, BA (Psych.), MEd, PhD

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.

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.

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Authors
Ms. Brand is a PhD Candidate, and Dr. McMurray is Research Chair in Nursing, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Murdoch University, Mandurah, Western Australia.

The authors disclose that they have no significant financial interests in any product or class of products discussed directly or indirectly in this activity, including research support. The authors acknowledge the nursing students who participated in this research study. Their perspectives are much appreciated.

Address correspondence to Gabrielle Brand, MN, BN, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Murdoch University, Education Drive, Mandurah, Western Australia 6210; e-mail: G.Brand@murdoch.edu.au.

Received: May 6, 2009
Accepted: August 4, 2009
Posted: October 22, 2009

10.3928/00989134-20091001-03

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