Title

Attracting and Training Tomorrow's Gerontologists: What Drives Student Interest in Aging?

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1-1-2014

Abstract

Demographic and labor force trends point to a critical need for professionals trained to work with older adults. The current study investigated factors associated with interest in aging-related topics and careers and knowledge of the opportunities that exist in the field of gerontology. Descriptive statistics, Pearson correlation analysis, and multiple regression analyses were used to examine results of a survey of 300 college students representing a wide range of disciplines. Aging-related coursework and formal contact with older adults were related to greater interest in learning about and working with older adults, as were lower levels of anxiety and ageism. Experiential learning was related to greater interest in aging-related careers. Females and those who have studied aging had greater knowledge of the opportunities that exist in the field of gerontology. Lower levels of ageism were related to knowledge of the labor force shortages in aging-related fields. Students across disciplines need to be more widely informed about the opportunities that exist to work professionally with older adults. We recommend a two-pronged approach by gerontological educators. We suggest building opportunities for formal contact and interaction with older adults and reflection on these interactions into aging-related coursework wherever possible. Additionally, gerontological educators should seek opportunities to develop collaborations and infuse gerontological content into a variety of other courses in order to educate those who do not specifically take aging courses. © 2014 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.

Publication Name

Educational Gerontology

Volume Number

40

First Page

172

Last Page

185

Issue Number

3

DOI

10.1080/03601277.2013.802184

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