• Belgium;
  • competencies;
  • education;
  • gerontology;
  • nursing;
  • nursing curricula;
  • older people

deschodt m., dierckx de casterlé b. & milisen k. (2010) Gerontological care in nursing education programmes. Journal of Advanced Nursing66(1), 139–148.


Title.  Gerontological care in nursing education programmes.

Aim.  This paper is a report of a study conducted to identify the coverage of gerontological care in baccalaureate nursing education programmes.

Background.  Although in recent years the average age of patients has increased, nurses do not always have the knowledge, competencies, and attitudes necessary to care for older people. Its complexity is not recognized.

Method.  A descriptive cross-sectional mail survey of 17 baccalaureate nursing education programmes in Flanders, Belgium, was performed in 2007.

Findings.  While there was great variability among nursing education programmes in terms of gerontology courses, clinical placements, and number of experts, it was encouraging that most programmes had integrated gerontology content into non-gerontology courses, all programmes offered gerontology clinical placements, and many nursing educators were considered to be experts in gerontology. Lack of interest in care for older people in general, lack of gerontology-related competencies within curricula, and a negative image of gerontological care were reported as the most frequently-encountered barriers to incorporating gerontological care aspects into curricula.

Conclusion.  Because a minority of nursing students choose the gerontology specialist option, gerontology content in basic nursing curricula should be increased. A minimum standard curriculum and specific competencies for care of older people should be formulated for all baccalaureate nursing education programmes. Strengthening educators’ expertise and investing in role models remain important priorities for the nursing profession.