The Impact of the SAGE Program on UNTHSC students




Johnson, Emily


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Purpose: By 2040, the population aged 65 and older is estimated to reach 80.8 million in the United States. This increase in the older population needs to be matched by larger numbers of healthcare practitioners equipped to provide care for their needs. The Seniors Assisting in Geriatric Education (SAGE) program was established to increase exposure of health professions students to the aging population, develop stronger interprofessional skills, and improve future care. This study looked at the impact of the SAGE program on the UNTHSC students in relation to attitudes towards older adults and interprofessional collaboration. Methods: A voluntary survey was administered before the first visit with the senior mentor and after the last visit. Responses from 178 individuals were analyzed, from the medical, physical therapy and pharmacy disciplines. The survey contained items adapted from the Geriatric Attitudes Scale (GAS) and the ‘Core Competencies for Interprofessional Collaborative Practice'. The Likert 5-point scale was used for analysis. A dependent t-test compared the responses pre and post. Results: There were significant increases in interprofessional attitudes among the students. There was also a significant increase in students viewing the elderly as more pleasant and a significant decrease in students viewing medical care for elderly as excessive. No significant differences were found regarding responses for programs or gender. Conclusions: The SAGE program has contributed to the improvement in attitudes towards interprofessional teamwork. Additional interdisciplinary programs should be created to foster better collaboration among professions and allow for more exposure to the senior population.