Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Barbara Myers


The growth of the aging population has warranted increased training and education to prepare professionals with the specific knowledge needed to best serve older adults. Gerontology, as an academic discipline, provides professionals with the conceptual knowledge and the skills necessary to address the complexities of working with a diverse aging population. Little research has been done of the characteristics of professionals both with and without formal education in gerontology that are working with the aging population. The aim of this study was to investigate the roles of career motivation, job satisfaction, attitudes about aging, career commitment, and professional identity among those working with older adults. An exploration of the characteristics of gerontological professionals has implications for the development of best practice approaches in student and staff recruitment, retention, curriculum design, and training practices. Participants were recruited from volunteers invited from a convenience sample of approximately 7,000 members signed up to receive emails from the Department of Gerontology at a Southeastern University, and a snowball approach with the link to the survey being distributed by various organizations and institutions (e.g., assisted living facilities, Southern Gerontological Society, Therapeutic Recreation Association). Professionals’ age and job satisfaction significantly predicted professional identity. Participants’ career motivation, job satisfaction, and exposure to formal gerontological education (MSE) significantly predicted career commitment. Self-identified professional identity in aging groups did not moderate the relationship between MSE predictors and career commitment. However, aging anxiety mediated the relationship between job satisfaction and career commitment. Finally, age and higher perception of the value of teamwork predicted both level of professional identity and job satisfaction. This study sheds lights on perspectives of professionals working with older adults and highlights areas for future research and training with this population.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

November 2013

Included in

Psychology Commons