Job Profile: Working as a Geriatric Nurse
There are many avenues down which nurses can go when it comes to choosing a specialty. For instance, they can narrow their focus by looking into a particular condition, environment, or population that interests them. One population whose need for nurses is going to increase tremendously in the coming years is the elderly.
According to statistics on the American Nurse Association's Nurse Competence in Aging initiative, the number of people over age 65 in the U.S. will increase 68% from 2006-2021. This is largely due to the aging Baby Boomer population, but also because Americans are now living longer. With this substantial rise in senior citizens, the need for those capable of administering medical treatment to them can only follow suit. Those who work with this group are geriatric nurses.
What they do:
Geriatric (or gerontological) nurses care for the elderly. They perform all the functions of a registered nurse that go into administering treatment to the sick or ailing and promoting wellness. Geriatric nurses specifically have to deal with helping patients protect their health while dealing with changes in their mental and physical abilities. These changes can be a combination or the result of complex medical conditions and the natural aging process.
There are many common health concerns that arise simply from growing older. These include falls, incontinence, learning to follow a medication regimen, changes in sleep patterns, incorporating medical equipment into daily life, and more. Geriatric nurses comfort their patients by explaining how to cope with these issues, which in turn helps their patients maintain their independence.
Furthermore, these nurses act as links between their patients, their patients' relatives and the medical community. They are often looked to by the families as a resource--someone who can put into simple terms what their loved one is going through and what changes might need to take place.
What they need:
Geriatric nurses are registered nurses (RNs) first. They then choose to specialize. To become a registered nurse, one commonly takes one of three paths: a bachelor's of science in nursing, an associate degree in nursing, or a diploma from an approved nursing program. These take between two and four years to complete, after which prospective RNs must pass the National Council Licensure Examination.
After a few years' experience and exposure to the elderly, interested nurses can pursue certification in gerontological nursing through the American Nurses Credentialing Center.
What they earn:
According to CBSalary.com, the average annual salary for a geriatric nurse is $71,502. The 25th and 75th percentiles are $48,514 and $123,810, respectively.
Overall job growth for registered nurses is projected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to be excellent, and those who work with the elderly will have an even better chance at finding employment. The increase will be felt especially in private homes and residential care facilities, because many aging patients are choosing to be treated in those environments, and hospitals are facing pressure to discharge patients as soon as possible to cut costs.
Last Updated: 15/02/2011 - 4:22 PM