Document Type (Journals)

Original Research


At the same time that the number of senior adults in the United States is steadily rising, there is also a rising shortage of allied health care professionals, including occupational therapists, to meet the current and expected needs of the senior adult population. There are national standards that all occupational therapy programs must meet; however, there is not a set national curriculum. It is assumed that students will enter their respective occupational therapy programs with a base knowledge of aging due to prerequisite requirements. To test that assumption, with Institutional Review Board approval, over four consecutive years 192 first-year, first-semester occupational therapy students were administered the Facts on Aging Quiz along with additional questions regarding year of birth and anticipated employment. Results showed that first-year occupational therapy students’ knowledge of aging was poor (67.9% mean) regardless of their age or population work preference. Most students stated that pediatrics—only 11.5% stated geriatrics—was their preferred population with which to work. Statistical tests indicated a trend of decreasing mean scores of the cohorts. If this trend of decreasing gerontological literacy exists in occupational therapy, other health care disciplines may be experiencing similar fates. Health care education should meet the needs of society and it appears there may be a significant gap that needs to be addressed to prepare health care practitioners to best meet the needs of the current population. Based on these study results, more emphasis needs to be placed on gerontological literacy for new occupational therapy students.


Dr. LaVona Traywick, PhD is an associate professor in the School of Physical Therapy at the Arkansas Colleges of Health Education. She teaches on the graduate level utilizing service-learning and problem-based learning strategies. Her specialty area is healthy aging and she has been working directly with senior adults for 25 years through volunteerism, leadership, exercise and home modifications. Dr. Traywick’s research has been in the areas of gerontological literacy, adaptive exercise, and aging in place.

Dr. Brittany Saviers, PhD, OTR/L has been practicing as an occupational therapist since 2008 in multifaceted roles, including academician, practitioner, fieldwork educator, and program developer. Her Ph.D. in Occupational Therapy is from Nova Southeastern University. An alumnus of the University of Central Arkansas, Dr. Saviers is proud to be a faculty member within the Department of Occupational Therapy since 2013. In clinical practice, Dr. Saviers’ primary focus has been serving children and youth of all ages in a variety of settings. Her niche is working with adolescents in school-based and community settings with a focus on transition planning. In addition to teaching and advising, Dr. Saviers has disseminated research related to the Theory of Occupational Adaptation, community-based programming, effective teaching/learning methods, occupational and environmental influences on health outcomes, and pediatric family-centered care.

Dr. Terry Griffin, PhD research and extension programs focus on cropping systems economics in general, and specifically precision agricultural technologies and big data. Precision ag data in a community has evolved Terry’s program to include ‘big data’ specifically the automation of economic decision-making tools. Current projects include farm management decision-making under weather uncertainty, profitable automated variable rate irrigation applications, valuation of precision agriculture data, and farmland values.

Dr. Teressa Brown, PhD, DPT, PT serves as the Dean of the School of Physical Therapy at Arkansas Colleges of Health Education (ACHE) in Fort Smith, AR. Prior to joining ACHE, she served as Program Director at West Coast University in Los Angeles, CA and as a faculty member at Simmons University in Boston, MA. She received her Bachelors of Science and Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from Simmons University in Boston, MA. In January of 2015, she completed her PhD in Health Professions Education at Simmons as well. Primary areas of research include instructional methods and assessment practices in anatomy education, predictors of success or difficulty in the DPT curriculum.

Declaration of Interest

The authors report no declarations of interest.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.