February 1, 2010
M. Mezey, E. Mitty, and S. G. Burger, “Nursing Homes as a Clinical Site for Training Geriatric Health Care Professionals,” Journal of the American Medical Directors Association, March 2009 10(3):196–203.
As part of their training in geriatric health care, students of dentistry, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, and social work—as well as some students of health care administration—spend time in nursing homes. Yet little is known about the criteria used by training programs to select nursing home training sites or the extent to which practical nursing home experience enhances students’ skills. According to an expert panel of academic program directors convened by Commonwealth Fund–supported researchers at the Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing, nursing home experience helps students develop skills in assessment, communication, interpretation, and ethical decision-making. The researchers, writing in the Journal of the American Medical Directors Association,
conclude that nursing homes offer rich learning environments, one in which residents have a wide spectrum of health needs and expectations and the homes have a stable population with regularly scheduled treatments. Drawbacks of nursing homes as training sites include the lack of adequate role models to help teach students and the lack of faculty interest in nursing home training. The authors suggest that developing explicit criteria to evaluate nursing home sites as training centers, as well as more clearly defining the roles of clinical staff and faculty, could strengthen nursing homes’ capacity to serve as learning environments.