Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Impact of the Geriatric Medication Game on Pharmacy Students' Attitudes toward Older Adults

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Impact of the Geriatric Medication Game on Pharmacy Students' Attitudes toward Older Adults

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

By 2030, an estimated 22% of the US population will be ages 65 years or older, (1) increasing from 12.9% in 2009.2 Because older adults are the largest consumers of prescription medications, (3) pharmacists and student pharmacists should be well-prepared to address the medication-related needs of the growing population of older adults. (4) However, students and new pharmacist practitioners may have difficulty understanding and empathizing with older adults as they may not have yet experienced aging-related challenges, such as disability and disease.

Although data from 2 decades ago indicate that healthcare professionals had negative views of aging and older adults, (5-7) recent studies among healthcare professionals demonstrate positive attitudes regarding older adults' abilities, the aging process, and older adults in general. (8-10) These improvements in attitudes may be attributable to curricular changes, as many universities and colleges educating healthcare professionals have incorporated geriatric-specific education into the required and elective curriculum. (8,9,11-16)

The importance of displaying professional attitudes and values during all health care interactions is recognized by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) in their revised standards for pharmacy education as well as the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) in their outcomes for pharmacy education. (17-19) Therefore, activities that improve student understanding and attitudes toward different patient populations should be integrated within the curriculum to promote patient-centered care. This can be accomplished using several means, such as clinical experiences, interprofessional practice experiences, introductory and advanced pharmacy practice experiences (IPPEs and APPEs), and geriatric elective courses. (4,8,12,15,20) Simulation games also are a useful method for teaching concepts to students because they actively involve students in the learning process (4,6,21) and allow them to experience and respond to situations in a safe learning environment without real consequences. (6,21)

Several games have been developed to simulate the aging process and improve student healthcare professional attitudes and knowledge, (6,11,13,14,23-25) but few focus on medication-related problems. (22) The Geriatric Medication Game, developed by the St. Louis College of Pharmacy, specifically addresses medication-related challenges of older adults. (13,22) In this simulated experience, students "become" older adults who experience physical, psychological, and financial problems while navigating the healthcare system and tackling challenges. (13,22) Therefore, a modified version of the game was incorporated into the Purdue University College of Pharmacy curriculum as part of a pharmacy practice skills laboratory. The objective of this study was to examine the impact of participation in the Geriatric Medication Game on student pharmacists' perceptions of and attitudes toward older adults and familiarity with common disabilities that affect them, as well as to familiarize students with the process of seeking healthcare for treatment of a chronic illness.

DESIGN

The purpose for integrating the Geriatric Medication Game into the curriculum was to: (1) improve pharmacy students' perceptions of and attitudes toward older adults and (2) to familiarize pharmacy students with disabilities common among older adults as well as with the process of seeking health care for treatment of a chronic illness. The specific learning objectives for this exercise were for students to identify: (1) limitations occurring as a result of disabilities, (2) barriers older adults face when seeking health care, (3) personal attitudes toward older adults, (4) ways health care practitioners can help older adults, and (5) how the US healthcare system functions.

A modified version of The Geriatric Medication Game was implemented during a 3-hour first-year pharmacy practice skills laboratory. …

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