Lived experiences and the power of memories of significant personal events to influence an individual's choice of career path is well documented in studies of students pursing careers in nursing. Less researched are the personal motivators that influence students' choices of specialization within career paths. Gerontology focused educational research provides a growing body of evidence pointing to the attitudinal disposition of students based on their life experiences and attachment to family members or significant others, not classroom exposure, as the primary predictor of vocational choice. What remain unclear are the types of naturally occurring motivators that propel students either toward or away from professional involvement with the elderly and in particular, the chronically and terminally ill. The questions of what motivates so many non-traditional nursing students, in particular, to work with elderly patients and what might motivate others who have shown no interest in this patient group to specialize in gerontology, is central to this interpretative phenomenological inquiry and frames the methodology used to define and interpret motivators among nursing students expressing an interest in or selecting gerontology as a career specialization. A synthesis of seven themes identified and analyzed from data collected through 30 in-depth interviews with 15 nursing students and other individuals closely associating with nursing education, suggests familial attachments, maturity, and traumatic or transformative experience, as the primary three motivators fueling an expressed desire to work with older patients. Conclusions also suggest motivators are identifiable and may be artificially replicated, and that strategic recruitment may also provide a solution for meeting geriatric nursing shortfalls. The purpose of the study has been to understand this complex phenomenon and to add to the body of knowledge surrounding nursing students' motivations and preferences for career specialization. The goal of the study has been to understand what elements might lead to new ways of increasing interest in the field of gerontology and specifically in direct care to elderly patients. Improvement in the numbers of BSN graduates electing to pursue early careers in geriatric direct care would provide a systemic remedy to the real-world problem of inadequate numbers of qualified nurses with adequate competencies to serve this high needs patient population.
|Advisor:||Schultz, Pamela C.|
|School:||New Mexico State University|
|School Location:||United States -- New Mexico|
|Source:||DAI-B 76/07(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Keywords:||Attachment, Eldercare, Geriatric, Gerontology, Nursing, Palliative|
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