The Ongoing Need for Geriatric Nurses

September 23, 2012 in Medical Careers

geriatric nursing

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing reports that by 2030 nearly 20 percent of Americans will be age 65 and over.  What does this mean for the healthcare profession?  Well, if you are looking for a career with great potential in growth and durability, then consider a career in Geriatric Nursing.  Careers in geriatric nursing will be expanding significantly in the coming decades with hospitals and nursing care facilities looking for qualified individuals.

Career Overview

Working in hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities and community health centers, geriatric nurses provide care, compassion and friendship to elderly patients.  They can deliver in-home treatment to those patients who can care for themselves yet need regular medical assistance.

The duties of a geriatric nurse vary, but typically consist of such tasks as assisting physicians during exams and procedures.  They can also perform patient medical tests in-home or at a medical office as well as establish a treatment or care plan for particular patients.  They must also administer medications according to the care plan set to individual patients.  Working with patients is usually the primary duty, but they must also work with their patients’ family members, teaching them about their patient’s condition and how to assist and promote self-care skills.


A geriatric nurse’s education varies a little depending on which degree and/or certification is desired.  Many geriatric nurses have their 4-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree in regular practice.  To help in advancement or higher levels of practice nurses can pursue a Master of Science in Nursing and post-masters programs for clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) and nurse practitioners (NPs) who focus their career on gerontological care.

Certification is also a must to practice.  To qualify for certification, nurses must have an active RN license and have graduated from an accredited nursing school program.  Also depending on the certification type, nurse must also meet specific experience criteria.

Gerontological Nurse Specialist:  This certification requires two years of practice as an RN equaling about 2000 hours of practice and 30 hours of continuing education in gerontological nursing in the last three years.

Clinical Nurse Specialist in Gerontological Nursing:  A CNS’s gerontology program must have included 500 hours of faculty supervised clinical practice and course work in advanced health assessment, advanced pharmacology and advanced pathophysiology.

Gerontological Nurse Practitioner:  An NP’s program should also have included 500 hours of faculty supervised clinical practice and course work in advanced health assessment, advanced pharmacology and advanced pathophysiology, plus training across the life span in health promotion, disease prevention, differential diagnosis and disease management.

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