At the same time that the number of senior adults in the United States is steadily rising, there is also a rising shortage of allied healthcare professionals, including occupational therapists, to meet the current and expected needs of the senior adult population. There are national standards that all occupational therapy (OT) programs have to meet; however, there is not a set national curriculum. It is assumed that students will enter their respective occupational therapy programs with a base knowledge of aging due to prerequisite requirements. To test that assumption, with IRB approval, over four consecutive years 192 first year, first semester occupational therapy students were administered the Facts on Aging Quiz along with additional questions regarding year of birth and anticipated employment. Results showed that first-year occupational therapy students’ knowledge of aging was poor (67.9% mean) regardless of their age or population work preference. Most students stated that pediatrics—only 11.5% stated geriatrics—was their preferred population with which to work. Statistical tests indicated a trend of decreasing mean scores of the cohorts. If this trend of decreasing gerontological literacy exists in occupational therapy, other health care disciplines may be experiencing similar fates. Healthcare education should meet the needs of society and it appears there may be a significant gap that needs to be addressed to prepare health care practitioners to best meet the needs of the current population. Based on these study results, more emphasis needs to be placed in gerontological literacy for new occupational therapy students.

Traywick L., Saviers B., Griffin T.W., Brown T., 2022, Journal of Occupational Therapy Education