What is a Geriatric Nurse?
Geriatric nursing is a specialized field of nursing that focuses on the care of older adults. Older adults often experience unique challenges associated with aging such as decreased physiological functioning, the use of multiple medications, muscle and brain atrophy, and age-related diseases, which require specialized care.
The role of a geriatric nurse includes assessing the physical and mental health of older adults, developing and implementing care plans, administering medication, and providing education and support to patients and their families. Geriatric nurses also work closely with other healthcare professionals, such as physicians, social workers, and physical therapists, to ensure that older adults receive comprehensive care and avoid iatrogenic procedures.
One of the unique challenges of geriatric nursing is dealing with the complex health issues that often accompany aging. These can include chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and polypharmacy, as well as cognitive impairments such as dementia. Geriatric nurses are trained to recognize and manage these issues and to provide care that is tailored to the specific needs of older adults.
Geriatric nurses also play a vital role in helping older adults to maintain their independence and quality of life. This can include providing support for activities of daily living, such as bathing and dressing, as well as helping older adults stay engaged and active in their communities. Geriatric nurses may also work with patients to develop plans for end-of-life care, and provide support to patients and families during this difficult time.
The future outlook for geriatric nurses is positive, as the demand for healthcare professionals who specialize in caring for older adults is expected to grow. The aging of the population is a major factor driving this growth. As the Baby Boomer generation reaches retirement age, the number of older adults in the US is expected to increase significantly, leading to a greater need for healthcare professionals who specialize in geriatric care. Additionally, advances in medical technology and an increased focus on preventative care are also expected to contribute to the growing demand for geriatric nurses.
Geriatric nurses can provide care to older adults in several places, including hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and patients’ homes. In nursing homes and assisted living facilities, geriatric nurses may provide long-term care for older adults who are no longer able to live independently. And in patients’ homes, geriatric nurses may provide home healthcare services, such as administering medication and providing support for activities of daily living.
Geriatric nurses have to be prepared to work with older adults who have multiple chronic conditions, as well as to provide holistic care that addresses not only the physical needs but also the emotional, social, and spiritual aspects of the aging process. Geriatric nurses have to be able to think critically and creatively, to be able to adapt to changing situations, and to be able to communicate effectively with older adults and their families.
How to become a Geriatric Nurse
There is a difference between a geriatric nurse and a geriatric nurse practitioner in duties, education, and salary. Regarding education, a geriatric nurse practitioner is an advanced practice nurse who has completed a master’s degree in nursing and holds a certification as a geriatric nurse practitioner. On the other hand, geriatric nurses have a nursing degree, such as an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), and is licensed as registered nurse (RN).
Geriatric nurse practitioners have advanced clinical skills and can diagnose and treat patients, prescribe medications, and provide preventive care services. Becoming a geriatric nurse or a geriatric practitioner nurse involves a combination of education, experience, and certification. Here are the steps you can follow to achieve these careers:
– Education: you must obtain a nursing degree, which can be either an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree in nursing (ADN or BSN). A geriatric nurse practitioner typically requires a master’s degree in nursing (MSN).
– Work experience: once you have your nursing degree, it’s recommended to gain experience in a healthcare setting, particularly working with older adults. This will provide you with a solid foundation of clinical knowledge and help you understand the unique challenges and needs of older patients.
– Licensure: after obtaining your nursing degree and obtaining relevant work experience, you must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become a licensed registered nurse (RN). If you’re pursuing a career as a geriatric nurse practitioner, you’ll need to take a certification exam, such as the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) certification exam.
– Continuing education: geriatric nursing is a rapidly evolving field, so it’s essential to continue learning and staying up to date with new developments and best practices. This can be done through attending conferences, participating in professional development programs, and obtaining advanced certifications in geriatric nursing.
– Join a professional organization: membership in a professional organization, such as the National Gerontological Nursing Association (NGNA) or the Gerontological Advanced Practice Nurses Association (GAPNA), can provide you with access to networking and educational opportunities and help you stay connected to the latest developments in the field.
Skills of a Geriatric Nurse
To be successful in this field, geriatric nurses must possess a unique set of skills that are specifically tailored to the needs of older patients. Some of the key skills required of a geriatric nurse include:
– Compassion: geriatric nurses must have a genuine concern for the well-being of their patients and must be able to connect with them on an emotional level.
– Patience: older adults may require more time and assistance with activities of daily living, and geriatric nurses must be patient and understanding.
– Knowledge of aging and geriatric care: geriatric nurses must have a thorough understanding of the aging process and the medical and social issues that come with it. They must have great knowledge about the diseases, conditions, and treatments that are specific to older adults.
– Ability to assess and manage complex medical conditions: geriatric patients often have multiple health problems that require careful management. Geriatric nurses must be able to assess patients, recognize changes in their conditions, and implement appropriate interventions.
– Effective communication skills: geriatric nurses must be able to communicate effectively with their patients, as well as with family members and other healthcare professionals. They must be able to explain medical information in simple terms, listen to the patient’s concerns, and provide emotional support.
– Cultural sensitivity: geriatric nurses must be culturally sensitive and able to respect the values, beliefs, and traditions of their patients.
– Strong organizational skills: geriatric nurses must be able to manage multiple patients and patients taking multiple medications. They must be organized and efficient, and able to keep accurate records and communicate effectively with other members of the healthcare team.
Salary of a Geriatric Nurse
In the United States, the average yearly salary for a Geriatric Nurse Practitioner is estimated to be $128,724, with a total estimated payment of $140,117 per year, according to Glassdoor. This includes an estimated additional pay of $11,394 per year, which may come in the form of cash bonuses, commission, tips, and profit sharing. Meanwhile, the average yearly salary for a Geriatric Nurse is estimated to be $63,099, with a total estimated pay of $66,746 per year, according to Glassdoor.
Q: Are geriatric nurses in demand?
A: Yes, geriatric nurses are in high demand due to the increasing aging population and the growing need for specialized care for older adults. Geriatric nurses are valued for their expertise in managing the complex medical conditions and health issues that come with aging.
Q: How long does it take to become a geriatric nurse?
A: To become a geriatric nurse, you must first complete an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), which can take 2-4 years of full-time study. After becoming an RN, you may choose to specialize in geriatric nursing by taking additional courses and training. This may take another 1-2 years to complete. To become a geriatric nurse practitioner, there are additional steps. You will need to complete a master’s degree in Nursing, which typically takes 2-3 years of full-time study after obtaining a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). In addition, you will need to pass a national certification exam and obtain a license as a nurse practitioner. The total time to become a geriatric nurse practitioner may take anywhere from 5-7 years, including the time to obtain a BSN and gain experience as a registered nurse.
Q: Where do geriatric nurses work?
A: Geriatric nurses can work in a variety of settings including hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, rehabilitation centers, and home health agencies. They may also work in clinics, community health centers, or private practice. Geriatric nurses have the flexibility to work in both inpatient and outpatient settings, and they may choose to work in a variety of clinical specialties including geriatrics, hospice and palliative care, and rehabilitation.
GAPNA (2023). Certification. GAPNA (Gerontological Advanced Practice Nurses Association). [online] Available at: https://www.gapna.org/certification
Gerontological Society of America (2023). Gerontological Society of America. [online] Available at: https://www.geron.org
Glassdoor (2023). Geriatric Nurse Salary. Glassdoor. [online] Available at: https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/geriatric-nurse-salary-SRCH_KO0,15.htm