F-5: Working with Older Adults: Putting Passion into Practice

NAB; HRCI; ANNC; HUD; Service Coordinator – 1.25  Credit Hours  | Thursday, June 22nd. 11:15 AM – 12:30 PM

Session Description:

It is no secret that the United States population is aging. By 2034, the number of older adults is projected to outnumber children for the first time in U.S. history. This specific population presents with unique needs related to the social determinants of health and utilizes a large share of healthcare resources including 25% of physician visits and over 35% of hospital stays. Addressing the comprehensive needs of older adult requires specific didactic competencies and interpersonal communication skills. Students participating in medical, nursing, and therapy programs rarely identify working with the geriatric population as a primary goal. Ageist attitudes, lack of understanding regarding setting/healthcare environment, and decreased exposure to working with older adults are barriers that have been identified in the literature regarding employment choice. Two key elements that have been associated with improving students’ openness to pursuing a career in geriatrics are increased clinical education opportunities with older adults and rigorous program curricula covering geriatric competencies outlined by professional organizations of the respective disciplines. Unfortunately, the number of volunteer and structured clinical education experiences exposing students to older adults has declined especially with the pandemic. Staffing continues to be a major issue that plagues the post-acute environment across all settings limiting the number of quality clinical education experiences. Issues related to burnout, productivity, and administrative burden impact workplace culture. Access to high quality healthcare continues to be challenging for older adults. This education session will incorporate lecture material and group discussion regarding the barriers related to staffing and retention as well as best practice strategies to improve recruitment, retention, and engagement of quality geriatric practitioners.

Learning Objectives:

Analyze the relationship between perceptions related to aging and career choice for medical, nursing, and therapy students.

Describe best practices strategies to improve recruitment, retention, and engagement of quality geriatric practitioners.

Discuss the challenges university partners and post-acute providers face supporting student placements with the older adult population.


Jessica Dunn, Director of Clinical Education, Seton Hall University

Creating an environment that facilitates learning and engagement is something that has helped me advance as a clinician and in the academic setting. I have been a physical therapist that has practiced mostly in the post-acute environment for the last 21 years. For the last eighteen years, I have served in a variety of leadership positions for a national post-acute care company. One of my many roles included, Site Clinical Coordinator of Education (SCCE) in which I was responsible for creating a vision and structure for the student program in the ever-changing post-acute environment. Not only was I responsible for developing several resources to support clinical instructors with student orientation and supervisory responsibilities, I also created systems to ensure an organized, challenging and fulfilling student education experience. In addition, I personally guided countless clinical instructors and students work through supervisory and/or performance challenges during the experience.   My clinical expertise and passion are ignited by working with individuals with multiple medical complexities. I have had the pleasure to present at a number of universities as well as several National and State conferences on several topics related to best practices including: fall risk management for older adults, health literacy and interprofessional practice, ageism, and understanding the medical, ethical, and professional implications in geriatric practice. I received my Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy in 2000 and Master of Science at Northeastern University in 2001. After practicing across the post-acute continuum, I furthered my studies at Arcadia University and received my Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree in 2010. In 2012, I became a Board-Certified Clinical Specialist in Geriatrics with the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA).   Besides being an ambassador for clinical excellence within the post-acute setting, I have been involved supporting important clinical education initiatives as a member of the National Consortium of Clinical Educators (NCCE). I have presented at APTA’s Education Leadership Conference and Combined Sections Meeting several times on important topics related to using the collaborative learning model in the post-acute setting and how to inspire students to pursue a career working with the geriatric population. Encouraging others to become involved at a state and/or national level within APTA is something I’m passionate about and actively recruit members to pursue leadership opportunities by acting as APTANJ’s Central District Nominating Committee Chair. Besides serving as Nominating Committee Chair, I am a Chapter delegate for the State of New Jersey at the APTA’s House of Delegates.