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Geriatric Nurse Job Description, Career as a Geriatric Nurse, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training: Advanced degree in geriatric nursing or certification in geriatric care

Salary Median: $70,000 per year

Employment Outlook: Very good

Geriatric nurses are specialized in providing health care to the elderly. They develop and implement treatment plans for older adults, and help them deal with chronic illnesses like respiratory disorders, diabetes, arteriosclerosis, hypertension, genitourinary infections, and pressure injuries. Geriatric nurses promote health in aged individuals by addressing their physical, cultural, psychosocial, and family issues.

Another important role played by geriatric nurses involves educating and providing support to the elderly and their families. People suffering from recurring or unrelieved health conditions need counseling, as do their families. Geriatric nurses discuss the health concerns with the patients and their relatives, explain or recommend alterations in the medication regimen, and provide instructions regarding disease prevention and personal safety.

Education and Training Requirements

Students interested in becoming geriatric nurses should first enroll in a four-year bachelor’s degree program in nursing. On completion, they become registered nurses, or RNs. Those who complete a master’s program are qualified as advanced practice nurses, or APNs. RNs and APNs then need to be certified as geriatric nurses in order to work in this specific nursing profession. Certifications are offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. For this, nurses need to hold a degree from an accredited nursing school and at least an active RN license. Further requirements for certifications depend on whether a candidate wishes to become a gerontological nurse specialist, clinical nurse specialist in gerontological nursing, or gerontological nurse practitioner.

In addition to academic qualifications, geriatric nurses need to be caring, responsible, and have the ability to assess the physical and mental condition of patients. They should also be skilled in working with the elderly, and have the aptitude to supervise others on staff and make decisions in cases of emergency.

Getting the Job

A lot of nursing schools offer placement services to their graduates. Candidates possessing the necessary qualifications can approach nursing homes and other health care facilities directly. Often, employment news for geriatric nurses is available through Internet job sites and local newspapers. It might also be a good idea to be in touch with professional geriatric nursing associations for information regarding job opportunities.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Recent graduates usually start out by working under the supervision of experienced nurses. These new geriatric nurses can gradually move to positions of more responsibility or take better paying jobs in larger organizations. With sufficient expertise, geriatric nurses can take on the role of an assistant unit manager or head nurse. Some even go on to more senior-level positions, like that of chief nurse, assistant director, director, or vice president. Apart from this, experienced geriatric nurses can shift to the spheres of consulting, marketing, health planning and development, and quality assurance. Those interested in academics can find faculty positions or research work at colleges and universities.

According to the records of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, almost 20 percent of the nation’s population will be above the age of 65 by 2030. This is expected to create a significant increase in employment opportunities for geriatric nurses. The profession is likely to expand by around 23 percent in the next decade. Prospects will be extremely good for geriatric nurses employed in home health care services, offices of private practice physicians, and outpatient care centers.

Working Conditions

Geriatric nurses mostly work in comfortable, well-lit, and spacious health care centers. However, due to the nature of the job, they may frequently have to travel to patients’ homes. Additionally, they need to be available for night shifts and to work on weekends and during holidays. Those employed in private practices are not required to be on call 24 hours a day.

The job of geriatric nursing involves a significant amount of exposure to human suffering. Nurses are also in frequent contact with toxic medications and infectious diseases and are prone to physical hazards. The ethical concerns of the profession combined with the physical stress may cause geriatric nurses to suffer from mental trauma and emotional strain.

Where to Go for More Information

Gerontological Advanced Practice Nurses Association
7794 Grow Dr.
Pensacola, FL 32514

American Geriatrics Society
The Empire State Building
350 Fifth Ave., Suite 801
New York, NY 10118

American Nurses Association
8515 Georgia Ave., Suite 400
Silver Spring, MD 20910

American Academy of Nursing
888 17th St. NW, Suite 800
Washington, DC 20006

Geriatric Nursing journal

National Gerontological Nursing Association
7794 Grow Dr.
Pensacola, FL 32514

American Assisted Living Nurses Association
PO Box 10469
Napa, CA 94581

American Nurses Credentialing Center
8515 Georgia Ave., Suite 400
Silver Spring, MD 20910-3492

Salary, Earnings and Benefits

The median annual salary of geriatric nurses in the United States is $70,000. Beginners are likely to earn around $65,000 every year, whereas those with over 10 years of experience can earn more than $75,000 annually.

Geriatric nurses are entitled to regular benefits like sick leaves, vacations, and health insurance. They also typically enjoy benefits like life insurance, and relocation assistance.

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesHealth & Medicine