Practicum/Field Experience

The final components of gerontology students' curriculum are the Practicum (GERO 491) and Practicum Seminar (GERO 493), which is normally taken during the senior year. The practicum for general gerontology students consists of a minimum of 400 hours experience in a program, agency or institution that serves older adults. Students must pay tuition during their practicum, and receive 10 semester hours of academic credit upon satisfactory completion of the experience. Students are normally on placement 40 hours per week for approximately two and one-half months. Alternative placement schedules must be approved by the Program Director.

The long-term care practicum consists of a minimum of 800 hours experience in an approved skilled nursing facility under the supervision of an Ohio licensed nursing home administrator who has been practicing for at least two years. Although the practicum is completed in one facility, during the practicum, students must spend at least one day each in a proprietary, philanthropic, and governmental facility to observe the diversity of long-term care settings. The student must pay tuition during his/her practicum, and receives 20 semester hours of academic credit upon satisfactory completion of the experience. The student is normally on placement 40 hours per week for five months. Alternative placement schedules must be approved by the Program Director.

Students enrolled in practicum are required to keep a daily activity log during this experience, and submit this log to the Program Director. The activity log should provide a daily accounting of the hours worked, activities engaged in, and any insights gained from the activities. At the completion of the practicum, students must provide the Program Director with their daily activity log, as well as an 8-10 page paper on a project that they undertook as part of their practicum (e.g., an assessment of the feasibility of establishing a child care center in a life care community; a report on residents' satisfaction with meals served in a nursing home). The Practicum Seminar (GERO 493) is taken concurrently with Practicum (GERO 491). During the seminar, students who have completed/are close to completing their internships return to campus to share their practicum experiences with program faculty and students who are preparing to go on internship. The daily activity log and the final paper must be turned in during the practicum seminar.

Purposes of the Practicum

The basic purposes of the practicum, which is a key part of the curriculum, are to:

  • Provide students with a professional experience and to provide an opportunity for career orientation.
  • Give students an opportunity to put the knowledge they accumulated to use in a facility serving the elderly and thus begin to integrate knowledge and practice.
  • Give general gerontology students an understanding of the workings of a specific program/agency/institution and its relationship to other programs/ agencies/institutions.
  • Satisfy, for Long-Term Care Administration students, the training requirements established by the Ohio Board Examiners of Nursing Home Administrators to enable them to sit for the Ohio licensure examination.

Prerequisites to Enrollment in the Practicum

  • Students must be seniors at the time they begin the Practicum and have a grade point average of 2.5 one semester prior to the beginning of the Practicum.
  • Students must complete at least 50 clock hours of volunteer or paid experience in one or more programs, agencies, or institutions serving the elderly.
  • An interview with the Program Director will be conducted in the first month of the semester before the student believes that he/she is ready to begin practicum. If the Director does not feel that the applicant is ready to begin practicum, or does not have the potential for professional practice, he/she reserves the right to not accept the student for practicum at that time.
  • Students must file an Internship Assignment form (General Gerontology students) or Administrator-in-Training form (Long-Term Care Administration students) at least three months before the term they wish to begin their practicum. The form must be filled out completely before it will be accepted.

The matter of where the placement will occur is a negotiable matter among the student, the Program Director, and the facility.

Evaluations and Grading

The Practicum experience is graded on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis. The preceptor in the facility is provided an evaluation form by the Program Director. The evaluation form elicits information from both the preceptor and the student. The evaluation form is to be completed, signed, shared with the student, and returned at the end of the internship (i.e., after 400 and 800 hours have been completed). The practicum. grade is based on the student's performance as assessed by the preceptor and the successful completion of the daily activity log (as evaluated by the Program Director).