Millenials Treating Boomers: An Educational Strategy to Improve the Older Patient Experience
To develop an appropriate curriculum for DPT students in Geriatric rehabilitation that emphasizes the ability to communicate effectively with the older adult population.
There has been an outpouring of information to faculty to assist them in understanding the Millennial generation and how best to teach and engage them in the academic arena. Of concern, however, is the fact that these same Millennial students need to be able to appropriately communicate with the older adult, Boomer and above, in order to effectively provide physical therapy care to that population. As part of an overall curriculum revision, the University of St Augustine Doctor of Physical Therapy program developed a Geriatric Physical Therapy course with a priority to ensure that students were able to communicate with older adults and better understand their goals and perspectives. The course is offered in a blended format to include online lectures augmented by laboratory experiences with older adult volunteers. The course also includes fieldwork and a portfolio of learning experiences specific to older adults. The fieldwork includes learning opportunities which serve the needs to the community or a community partner while enhancing student learning. Critical components of communication and developing the student awareness of social responsibility can be addressed through service learning. Examples of the fieldwork activities include leading exercise programs, volunteering at senior centers, and visiting memory care units. The primary aim of the portfolio is to encourage students to understand the perspectives and interests of the older adult. Students choose from various options that include reflection on recommended books and movies, interviews with older adults or individuals working with them, taking continued education credits specific to geriatrics, and submitting an artistic expression related to aging. Reflection papers are required at the end of the course for the students to link their fieldwork, didactic studies and portfolio.
Student global reflection papers and portfolio submissions clearly demonstrate that students are learning to value and effectively engage with older adults in a meaningful way through this non-traditional course format.
Conclusions/Relevance to the conference theme:
The student reflection papers, and feedback demonstrate strong evidence that they are gaining a more thorough understanding of the older adult and much improved communication skills. These improvements in student understanding and communication mean that their provision of care to the older adult will be more patient centered, focused, and more appropriate to the needs of our rapidly growing older adult population.