A Cost Effective Panel of Seniors Shapes Attitudes of Medical Students During Early Clinical Education

1University of Illinois College of Medicine at Urbana‐Champaign, Urbana, IL

Meeting: Hospital Medicine 2011, May 10-13, Dallas, Texas.

Abstract number: 127


Today's medical students frequently lack positive opportunities for interaction with elderly people because of restructuring and distribution of families according to age. However, the elderly patient will be disproportionately represented in many clinicians’ practices, with people 65 years and older constituting about 38% of hospitals’ inpatient census nationwide and 12.4% of the total population. Given these realities, it is important to identify cost‐effective ways to introduce medical students to the needs of elderly patients. This study presents the results of a 90‐minute interaction between medical students in their beginning clinical year and a panel of elders.

TABLE 1 Pre‐/Postresponses on Geriatric Attitudinal Scale

TABLE Reflective Writing Themes


A mixed‐method pretest–posttest intervention group design was used for a 90‐minute “White Coats Meet Gray Power” session with 25 students with varied clinical clerkship. The senior panel members included 3 men and 3 women older than 65 years. Students completed a 14‐item Geriatric Attitude Scale with a 5‐point Likert scale before and after the elderly panel, and students and wrote pre‐ and postintervention narratives reflecting on “the most memorable experience they have had with an older adult who taught something important about medicine and/or health care.” Paired t tests were used to compare the student's attitudes before and after the panel. Students’ reflections identified 3 major themes coded for positive and negative element,s with analysis of any changes in attitudes after intervention.


Several positive changes in attitudes toward the elderly were seen at the conclusion of the panel. Students, in their written reflections, reported either no shift in their earlier positive attitudes toward the elderly or a change in perception toward being more positive. Forty percent of those students with no change in attitude had expressed positive experiences with the elderly prior to the panel, and 30% in this same category of assessment of no change had written about some negative experiences. For those students determined to have developed a positive attitude by the conclusion of the panel, 34% had commented on some previous negative experience.


An opportunity for a semistructured interaction between medical students in the beginning of their clinical training and a panel of elders provided a cost‐effective method for introducing the students to the perspectives and experiences of an older person. The students were generally positive about the experience, suggesting that placing such a brief intervention in the context of medical students’ clinical training may help to further expand students’ understanding and appreciation of the needs of the older person.


R. Tandon ‐ none; A. Kalra ‐ none; J. Jokela ‐ none; R. Kirby ‐ none; J. Reis ‐ none

To cite this abstract:

Tandon R, Kalra A, Jokela J, Kirby R, Reis J. A Cost Effective Panel of Seniors Shapes Attitudes of Medical Students During Early Clinical Education. Abstract published at Hospital Medicine 2011, May 10-13, Dallas, Texas. Abstract 127. Journal of Hospital Medicine. 2011; 6 (suppl 2). https://www.shmabstracts.com/abstract/a-cost-effective-panel-of-seniors-shapes-attitudes-of-medical-students-during-early-clinical-education/. Accessed March 28, 2020.

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