A major obstacle to promoting care of the elderly is the lack of medical student exposure to older adults, and particularly their lack of familiarity with elders as 'people'. It’s well known that a lack of exposure to certain patient populations has impeded career decisions for particular medical specialties. Research demonstrates that experiential learning in medical curricula improves the relevance, attitudes, retention, and interest in those specialties.
The 'Make a New Old Friend' program creates a geriatric experiential learning opportunity for medical learners to prepare for the changing landscape of healthcare.
Increase student competence in the care of older adults
Create opportunities to enhance communication skills with older adults
Explore potential career pathways in the care of older adults
The goal of this program is to establish familiarity and rapport between medical learners and older adults as 'people'. Potential 'old friends' are recruited from Schlegel Villages Winston Park: a retirement and assisted living facility in Waterloo Region. Learners visit with their 'old friends' on a monthly basis during the 2018 academic term (January to June). Learners are paired with a faculty mentor during this time to facilitate the experiential learning process.