Two first-year Brock nursing students participated in a knowledge exchange with members of the Gerontological Nursing Association Ontario (GNAO).
Terri-Jo Sampson and Victoria Torr are both first-year nursing students selected as featured guest speakers at a recent meeting hosted by the Niagara chapter of the GNAO.
The 40-minute presentation focused on topics of ageism, elderspeak and communication with older adults, and was followed up with a discussion period.
The GNAO serves as a network for nurses who care for older adults across all health-care sectors in Ontario.
Nursing Prof. Lynn McCleary selected the students to present the work they had completed for a first-year nursing course titled Professional and Therapeutic Communications, knowing that their topic was relevant to nurses who work with older adults.
“The students exhibited professionalism, knowledge and stellar presentation skills along with extensive knowledge on this particular topic,” said Lynn McCleary, who is an associate professor in nursing at Brock and the president of the Canadian Gerontological Nursing Association (CGNA).
Learning outside the confines of the classroom, both students were excited about the opportunity to apply their knowledge in a professional setting and spread awareness about communication issues that many older adults experience.
“Many caregivers do not even know they are doing it, but they use ageism and elderspeak, which is essentially secondary baby talk when communicating with older adults,” says Torr. “While altering communication may be well intentioned, it can result in many other implications that can negatively affect the quality of life among older adults.”
According to both students, being exposed to clinical in their first year has helped them recognize gerontology as a potential field of specialization.
“While working with older adults, you have an opportunity to talk with them and listen to the life experiences that they are usually excited to share with you,” says Sampson, who grew up in the Niagara region and found her passion for nursing participating in a co-op placement at a local hospital. “We want to help spread awareness, and this presentation was a great way to demonstrate to everyone – including ourselves – that getting out of your comfort zone can lead to great opportunities.”
The presentation took place at the Linhaven long-term care home in St. Catharines Jan. 21, 2014, and was open to GNAO members, students and family.