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The Influence of Geriatrics Education on Knowledge, Attitudes, and Career Aspirations of Podiatric Medical Students

Hylton B. Menz School of Exercise and Health Sciences, College of Social and Health Sciences, University of Western Sydney, Locked Bag 1797, Penrith DC, New South Wales 1797, Australia.

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A survey of podiatric medical students in Australia was undertaken prior to and following the completion of a compulsory geriatrics course to evaluate the effect of geriatrics education on knowledge of aging, attitudes toward older people, perceptions of treatment efficacy, and desire to specialize in geriatrics. Students had a reasonable knowledge of aging and favorable attitudes toward older people prior to undertaking the course, but few wanted to specialize in geriatrics. General knowledge of aging and attitudes toward older people improved after completion of the course, but career aspirations remained unchanged. Students generally considered geriatrics to be a low-profile specialty, and less than half stated that they would be interested in pursuing continuing education in geriatrics. These results provide further evidence that students’ lack of desire to specialize in geriatrics may be primarily due to limited recognition within the profession, rather than unfavorable attitudes toward older people or lack of interest in geriatrics during their undergraduate education. (J Am Podiatr Med Assoc 93(2): 124-130, 2003)