A review of geriatric care training in the undergraduate nursing and medical curricula at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

  • K. Naidoo
  • F. Waggie
  • M.J. van Wyk


Background. The population in South Africa is ageing rapidly. However, health professionals are reportedly unprepared to provide quality care for the elderly population. A situational analysis of curricula is required to identify the extent to which current training addresses the needs of elderly populations.
Objectives. To investigate the undergraduate medical and nursing curricula at a South African university regarding geriatric care  training, and explore possible learning opportunities to enhance health professions education in geriatric care.
Methods. This descriptive exploratory study was conducted through document review and semi-structured interviews with health professions educators.
Results. In both curricula, a problem-based learning approach was combined with classroom and bedside teaching. A wide range of geriatric topics was covered in each programme, four of which were common to both, i.e. falls, urinary incontinence, dementia and chronic non-communicable diseases. Nursing students were exposed to geriatric patients in multiple settings, while medical students saw geriatric patients mainly in hospitals and community clinics. Geriatric content in both programmes was integrated into other modules, and there was no independent assessment of geriatric competencies.
Conclusion. Although a multitude of geriatric learning objectives were included in both nursing and medical training programmes, there was limited coverage and a lack of discrete assessment in this field. Opportunities to enhance the current curricula include discrete assessment of geriatric care competencies, and increased interprofessional education. However, faculty development and additional resources would be required in both programmes.


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