Learn about the many benefits becoming a geriatric nurse could provide for you!

How to Become a Geriatric Nurse Guide
How to Become a Geriatric Nurse Guide

Table of Contents

Quick Summary

Becoming a geriatric nurse and caring for the elderly can present long-term career opportunities for you. Geriatric patients represent a large group of patients that are the core business of health systems.

Research has shown that a great percentage of your nursing careers will be working with older adults. The population of the elderly is heavily increasing.

Degree needed to practice: Bachelors degree in Nursing (BSN)

License required: Registered Nurse (RN)

Certification Available: American Nurse Credentialing Center (ANCC) offers credentials for RNs needing geriatrics certification along with Advanced Practice Registered Nurses specializing in geriatrics.

How much does an Adult Nurse earn? The Median annual salary is $102,670 annually.


What does a Geriatric Nurse do?

The geriatric nurse provides direct care to older adults within a mixture of settings; they additionally play the role of provider of attention as well as being a caregiver. Many older adults often have several symptoms that often can complicate their diagnosis and treatment choices.

Geriatric nurses additionally may need to be knowledgeable of patients’ risk factors, their signs, and symptoms, the medical treatments, life-cycle care, and rehabilitation. Having this knowledge is important to provide quality care.

Geriatric nursing can sometimes be challenging to meet the needs of older adults because their medical challenges may be more involved but their focus of care will always depend on the setting.

Deciding to become a geriatric nurse will require knowledge of the aging process of older adults and elders as well as diseases and conditions that come along with growing older.

Part of what you will do, as a geriatric nurse, will utilize geriatric nursing to care for the elderly within their community. Additionally, you will provide care for older adults that are acutely ill, that require hospitalization treatment, sometimes in home settings or even hospitals for the terminally ill.

You will also be using geriatric nursing that will include all older adults until they pass away. Geriatric nursing is the standard of practice that serves to protect the safety and rights of older adults that you are expected to follow.

As a geriatric nurse, your job duties will include:

  • Determine what the older adult’s healthcare needs are and ensure they are being met
  • Monitor and be aware of how effective the care the patients are receiving
  • Pinpoint patient’s strengths they have as well as what limitations they have
  • Help to endorse patients to become independent
  • Work to connect family members and patients to stay involved with the patient’s progress
  • Making sure the older adults’ living environment is functional
  • Use communication that is efficient, compassionate, and respectful with older adults as well as their families
  • Speaking with their family members to assess their knowledge and skills so they can deliver care to their older family member
  • Reduce and prevent the underlying risks that contribute to older adult’s physical decline as well as impaired quality of life obstacles

Part of your job will include teaching

You will focus on helping to teach patients the importance of health promotion as well as contribute to modifying any risk factors they may have. This medium will include assisting in promoting lifestyle modifications such as deciding to have a healthy diet, stopping smoking, helping the patient with helping them to maintain the appropriate weight, providing them with physical activity as well as stress management classes.

Your job as a geriatric nurse will have the responsibility to educate your patients on ideas, techniques, and methods to help to decrease their risk of conditions such as heart disease, their chance of having a stroke, cancer, etc.

Your role will also include managing

As a geriatric nurse, you will sometimes have to be in the role of manager to help balance everyday practices. These methods include helping the patient with concerns about family matters, the nurses around you; managing entered disciplinary teams and of course the patient.

You must be skilled with leadership, understand the importance of time management, be open to building relationships, utilize effective communication, as well as have the ability to keep up with the managing of change.

You may have to act on behalf of older adult

In some situations, you may have to play advocate on behalf of older adults to help them make decisions that are in their best interest. Some days you will have to help explain the medical or nursing procedures to their family members. Plus you may help many families assist them to make a more informed decision for nursing home choices.

Family members may come to you and ask questions and off thought that their frustrations that they may have encountered. But you must always remember being in the role of advocates does not mean making all their decisions for them however your job will be to empower them to be independent as best as possible even in difficult situations.

What settings can I work in who will hire me?

Acute Care Hospitals: Within this setting, you will focus on providing nursing care of the fundamental problems, this will sometimes involve helping patients that need cancer treatment, pulmonary conditions, etc. half of the patients within the acute care hospital are 65 years old or older.

Working in the acute care hospital you will encounter elderly adults that are in critical care or need of rehabilitative services. Your goal within the setting will be to promote recovery as well as help patients prevent complications.

Transitional and long-term care facilities: The aim of working within this area is to help maximize patients to become independent again additionally promoting maximal function, contributing to prevent any complications, as well as demoting the quality of life within the elderly strains and their limitations.

The benefit of long-term care facilities is to help the elderly patients recover from and adapt to conditions such as spinal cord injury, stroke, neurological diseases, amputation, head trauma, or even orthopedic surgery.

Some people referred to care long-term facilities as nursing homes, but the truth is long-term care facilities provide support for people of any age who have lost the ability to care for themselves this could be due to a disability or illness.

Home health care: As a geriatric nurse, you also can work in home healthcare facilities. Within this setting, you will use home health care services that have been designed to help the patient that is home-bound due to illness or because the patient lack mobility the ability to move around. For the elder patients who have home healthcare, it must you ordered by a physician.

Hospice: Geriatric nurses can also decide to work in hospice; this is to provide care for dying patients and their families. Hospice hospitals help patients that are terminally ill live until they pass away. Normally the patient has about six months to live. Also, the geriatric nurse helps with pain management as well as comfort care for the patient.

The nurse and that physicians work closely together with Chaplin psychologists, social workers hospice professionals to help the patients – as comfortable as possible. Nurses have basic nursing concepts and principles. This is to help them grow as well as treat the older population and help further your career.


What education will I need to become a Geriatric Nurse?

To be legally recognized as a geriatric nurse and to find greater employment opportunities it’s recommended you obtain your Gerontology Nursing Certification (RN-BC). This certification is currently offered through the ANCC.

To be eligible to become certified you will need:

  1. Already be an RN Nurse with a to date nursing license.
  2. Have two years of experience as an RN
  3. Complete 2,000 hours of clinical in gerontological are of nursing within the past three years.
  4. Provide the certification board ANCC with 30 hours of continued education in gerontological nursing.

Deciding to become a Gerontological Nurse Practitioner

As a geriatric nurse, you will also have the choice to advance your career. You can choose to become a Gerontological Nurse Practitioner (GNP) and practice in collaboration with physicians.

You will need to earn a Master’s degree in nursing. On top of that 500 hours of clinical practice, to take the required certification offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).

Nevertheless, the advantage of going this route is the increase in pay, abundant career opportunities as well as independence to have your practice facility. Depending on which state you live in you may need to be supervised by a physician.

Many of these physicians have a long list of geriatric patients. That geriatric nurse will frequently make regular visits to nursing homes, and practice in outpatient clinics, or rehabilitation facilities.


Career Outlook

According to the Administration on Aging by the year 2030, the population aged 65 and older will nearly double. Employment opportunities for students who enter geriatric nursing are predicted to grow much faster than average. The Department of Labor predicts the number of jobs for registered nurses will be among the largest in comparison to all other occupations.


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