A grounded theory study: valuing aging - a model describing gerontological social work career choice
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AbstractAs the proportion of people in the latter stages of the lifespan increase so will the need for social work services. This grounded theory study explored why some social work students include the option of working with older persons. Fifteen social work students in the provinces of Alberta and Newfoundland and Labrador were asked the specific question: Why do you, as a social work student, want to work with older adults when you graduate? Constant comparison of data revealed a three-phase process entitled Valuing Aging Model contributing to understanding why some social work students include the option of working with older persons. This process has the potential to be transformative and may occur at any time during the lifespan. The first phase described exposure to, and learning about older persons through a variety of life experiences including family, education, employment, and volunteering. The second phase involved a transcending experience where students were able to analyze knowledge, and psychological and emotional messages they received through developing relationships with older persons, as well as the impacts of life experiences with older persons. The resultant process of self-exploration or discovering of self allowed students to challenge societal beliefs regarding aging and adopt a new way of thinking. The third phase, inclusion, involved acknowledging discrimination, understanding vulnerability and coming to include all people, including older persons, as part of a decision making process. Included is a discussion of trustworthiness incorporating credibility, transferability, dependability and confirmability of this study. In conclusion, this study contributes to a growing body of knowledge explaining gerontological career choice and may contribute to attitudinal change supporting a paradigm shift where all stages of the lifespan be considered as desirable practice areas.
Bibliography: p. 156-167