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A Multimodal Aging and Dying Course for First-Year Medical Students Improves Knowledge and Attitudes

Authors

  • Manuel A. Eskildsen MD,

    1. From the *From the Division of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology, Department of Medicine, School of Medicine, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia.
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  • Jonathan Flacker MD

    1. From the *From the Division of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology, Department of Medicine, School of Medicine, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia.
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Address correspondence to Manuel Eskildsen, Emory University School of Medicine, Division of Geriatrics Medicine and Gerontology, 1841 Clifton Road NE, Atlanta, GA 30329. E-mail: meskild@emory.edu

Abstract

When medical schools change their curricula, this opens up opportunities for the development of new material and often eliminates previously designed courses. Emory University's School of Medicine revised its curriculum in 2007, combining clinical medicine and basic sciences in the first 18 months. As part of its first section on “The Healthy Human,” it included a weeklong module on aging. The main objective of this study was to evaluate attitudes and knowledge about aging issues before and after the course. The course included 5 days of sessions on topics ranging from molecular biology to societal aspects of aging. Students completed a survey including demographics, the University of California at Los Angeles Geriatrics Attitudes Scale (UCLA-GAS), and the Facts on Aging Quiz-1 (FAQ1) before and after the course. The UCLA-GAS measures attitudes toward geriatric patients on a 5-point Likert scale, and the FAQ1 is a 25-item true–false test on knowledge of aging. All 130 first-year students completed the precourse survey, and 129 completed the postcourse survey. Four students said they planned to pursue specialty training in geriatrics before the module, and 10 planned to do so after the course (P=.28 using Fisher exact test). Mean UCLA-GAS score was 3.7±0.4 before the class and 3.8±0.4 after (P<.001 using paired t-test). Mean of correct answers on FAQ1 was 16.1±2.4 before the class and 17.5±2.3 after (P<.001 using paired t-test). This weeklong course on aging for first-year medical students at Emory improved their attitudes toward elderly people and their knowledge base on aging.

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