Geriatric Nursing Career Breakdown

December 26, 2013 in Medical Careers

Geriatric Nurse with Patient

Students who decide to go into nursing already know it will be hard, challenging, require long hours of intense study and that the nursing careers they’re preparing for will be far from glamorous (i.e. dealing with bedpans, bodily fluids, etc.). However, those that embrace the training process and really apply themselves will be poised to enter the healthcare industry with a determined and positive outlook on their ability to improve the lives of others.

This mindset couldn’t be better suited when it comes to geriatric nursing and the world of gerontology. What aspiring geriatric nurses should understand is that gerontology isn’t just about providing quality care for (and interacting with) older patients but identifying ways to keep them healthier and lower their chances of becoming sick, getting injured or letting a chronic condition prevent them from leading a comfortable lifestyle.

Where Do Geriatric Nurses Work?

Because these kinds of nurses care specifically for the elderly, the most common work environments include (but are not limited to):

  • Assisted Living/Retirement Communities
  • Hospices
  • Hospitals/Clinics
  • Patient Homes (In-House Care)
  • Rehabilitation Centers

What Are a Geriatric Nurse’s Primary Responsibilities?

Among the many important things geriatric nurses are tasked with, perhaps the most crucial is the assessment and management of their patients’ health and condition, whether they are perfectly healthy or suffering from a chronic condition or illness. Geriatric nurses operate as part of a team and must know how to communicate with staff, physicians and other medical personnel when it comes to recommending the best courses of treatment for patients.

In addition to the daily interactions and monitoring of patients, geriatric nurses also serve as patient advocates by working as a liaison between the healthcare system and their patients/patients’ families to ensure the best quality of care is being provided. Because elderly individuals tend to have a difficult time making the transition into their retirement years, the nurses that look after them must be able to provide mental and emotional support as well. From assessing a patient’s cognitive abilities to addressing special needs, such as mental capacity and health concerns, geriatric nurses play a vital role in helping patients grasp the new reality they face of getting older.

Just as it is important to work with each patient to address individual concerns, it is equally essential to do the same for the patient’s family members. This could include providing counseling services, instructing family members how to organize and administer medication and teaching them how to effectively deal with situations like falls, behavioral issues, safety and disease prevention.

What Are the Educational Requirements?

The most direct path is to graduate with a Bachelor’s degree from a school that offers a geriatric nursing program, pass the NCLEX-RN and go on towards earning a Master’s degree with geriatrics/gerontology as a specialty. While optional, it is recommended to also obtain Gerontological Nursing Certification, which is a credential that almost guarantees a higher salary and wider range of jobs opportunities to choose from.

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