Inspiring the next generation of workers to join the aging services field is a significant obstacle for many organizations. A recent Seniors Housing & Care Journal article explores a key strategy to improve visibility of the industry by expanding and enhancing university-based programs for this field. The author offers several recommendations to improve these types of programs, based on feedback from senior housing and aging services professionals, analysis of current university-based programs, and surveys of emerging leaders and university program directors.
The first recommendation was to enhance the image of the field. To do this, the industry needs to focus on the positive impact senior living professionals have on the lives of older adults, as well as to develop more university-based programs so that more young people become aware of the variety of career opportunities in aging services. A second recommendation was for organizations to offer more training, internships, and field experience opportunities for students in order to prepare them for the field. This type of hands-on experience would enhance learning for students and help direct them to the right career path.
University-based programs could also benefit from developing strong partnerships with aging services organizations. To be successful, these partnerships would need to be based on a mutual understanding of the need for quality university-based programs. A fourth recommendation focused on identifying career paths for emerging professionals. This is important for anyone considering joining the field to be aware of the opportunities available as well as for further developing the skills of midcareer individuals. Additionally, the focus needs to shift from building technical skills to enhancing professional leadership skills.
One of the next steps for this initiative would be to convene a meeting of university and provider representatives, with the goal of working together to enact some of these recommendations. Bringing together a diverse set of individuals from across the field would help to build partnerships and identify best practices.
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Olson, DM. A framework for expanding and enhancing university-based health administration and aging services programs across the United States. Seniors Housing & Care Journal (2018); 26(1): 83-95.