As most people get older, their bodies start to wear out and they begin experiencing more health problems. Because of this, elderly people often need more medical care than others.
Geriatrics is a field of medicine that deals with the care of elderly people. Geriatric nurses are some of the most important professionals in this field, as they often provide daily care for geriatric patients. Since the human life expectancy has increased and the members of the Baby Boomer generation have started aging, the demand for geriatric nurses is expected to increase dramatically.
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What is a Geriatric Nurse?
Because of their fragile health, elderly individuals often need special care, particularly since a minor health related issue can sometimes spin out of control quickly in the elderly. A geriatric nurse, or gerontological nurse, is a type of nurse that helps care for aging and elderly individuals. They are trained to be able to perform traditional nursing duties, yet they also have special training that helps them better understand the special needs of many elderly people. This extra training enables them to for for aging patients with relative ease.
Working as a geriatric nurse is often very gratifying and rewarding personally. However, it takes a special type of person to work in this field, and the work can also be frustrating or disheartening at times as well. If you are looking to become a geriatric nurse, you must keep in mind that the aging process affects everyone differently. While some elderly patients are somewhat content or even happy-go-lucky, others may be sad, scared, or even angry that their health is failing.
Before becoming a geriatric nurse, you should evaluate your personality. Geriatric nurses should be generally upbeat and cheerful people. They should also be patient, understanding, empathetic, and compassionate, with a true desire to work with aging patients. If you choose this career, you should also be able to handle and bounce back from depressing events, such as the death of a patient.
What do Geriatric Nurses Do?
As a geriatric nurse, you will be required to perform a number of duties. For example, you will often be responsible for
- measuring and recording vital signs;
- administering medications;
- exercising and massaging patients;
- watching for signs of elder abuse;
- transporting patients to doctor’s visits and other appointments; and
- helping patients with their daily needs, such as bathing, dressing, and using the bathroom.
Throughout all of this, you will also be required to keep accurate patient records and coordinate your care with the recommendations of your patients’ physicians.Geriatric nurses are often not only responsible for the physical well-being of their patients, but also for their mental and emotional well-being as well. Oftentimes, elderly patients will seem morose or angry, due to reasons such as their failing health, lack of independence, and isolation from their loved ones. As a geriatric nurse, you should keep a close eye on these patients and attempt to remain cheerful and compassionate, even during the most difficult times.When working as a geriatric nurse, you will also usually be encouraged to communicate with your patients’ family members. You may need to explain a patient’s care regimen or medications, or act as a liaison between the family members, the patient, and the physician. As a geriatric nurse, you are also in an excellent position to give both patients and their loved ones advice on certain health and ability related issues.
Where do Geriatric Nurses Work?
Geriatric nurses are often employed at healthcare facilities such as hospitals and clinics. They also work in residential care facilities, like nursing homes and retirement communities. Some geriatric nurses also work in home healthcare, traveling to patients’ homes to care for them there.
How do I Become a Geriatric Nurse?
Most geriatric nurses start out by becoming registered nurses, which involves earning a nursing degree and passing a difficult certification examination.
If you wish to work in the field of geriatrics, however, you will also need additional education and training, along with experience working with elderly patients. One option is to go back to school and earn your gerontological nursing degree. Once you obtain this degree, you must then sit for the gerontological nursing certification examination offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).
Below is the common educational path for a Geriatric Nurse (lowest to highest level of education)
|Educational Track||School Programs||Average Education Length||Choosing Online or Campus|
|Earn a Bachelors Degree||View Programs||4 Years||Online or Campus|
|Earn a MSN Degree||View Programs||2 Additional Years||Online or Campus|
|Earn a PHD or DNP||View Programs||2-4 Additional Years||Online or Campus|