If you enjoy working with seniors and have a strong desire to make their lives as rewarding and comfortable as possible, you could have a future in geriatric or gerontological nursing. Although deeply satisfying, geriatric nursing is a challenging profession, so it’s important to know as much as possible before you embark on this high-demand career path.
What Do Geriatric Nurses Do?
Geriatric nurses work extensively with seniors, often in assisted living facilities or in patients’ homes. Their roles vary significantly based on their education and the capacity in which they work. Many play a preventative role, ensuring that patients are monitored carefully for a variety of conditions that grow more likely with age. Preventative duties also include educating older patients on habits and practices that will help them retain the best possible health.
As older patients develop painful conditions and diseases, geriatric nurses help them cope both physically and mentally. Often, nurses help patients complete everyday tasks that may prove a greater struggle due to pain or limited mobility; these include dressing, bathing, and using the restroom.
Where Do Geriatric Nurses Work?
Geriatric nurses work in a variety of settings and facilities. Hospital and clinic work is common, with geriatric nurses helping seniors with everyday health concerns or assisting them through emergency procedures. Others work in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, or hospices. Home health care is also quite common, with many geriatric nurses traveling from one residence to the next to assist patients with limited mobility.
Ideal Personality Traits in a Geriatric Nurse
The ideal geriatric nurse possesses great patience and empathy. They must be able to connect with older patients, who often struggle to communicate with healthcare professionals. Additionally, geriatric nurses must be observant and detail-oriented. Even small changes in symptoms could indicate deadly health conditions or great discomfort on the patient’s part. Geriatric nurses should notice when things aren’t as they should be, and respond accordingly.
What Type of Education Do Geriatric Nurses Require?
Nurses at all levels may be asked to work with elderly patients, but positions specifically targeted at this population often require candidates to be, at minimum, registered nurses. Often, employers require additional education, with many demanding BSN degrees.
Specific training in geriatric care can prove incredibly useful for nurses who work primarily with seniors. Other than obtaining a BSN, the best way to get a leg up on the competition is to complete gerontological certification training with the American Nurses Credentialing Center or another respected organization. The AACN maintains an extensive list of competencies for both current and aspiring BSN-level geriatric nurses; this document offers a closer look at the skills nurses should ideally possess before entering this demanding profession.
Job Outlook and Typical Wages
With the Baby Boomer population rapidly reaching senior status, the demand for geriatric nurses is greater than ever. The unemployment rate is already quite low for nursing in general; the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics highlights a job outlook of 16 percent for registered nurses between 2014 and 2024, compared to just 7 percent across all professions.
Geriatric nurses with proper training can easily earn a comfortable income. The BLS reports median annual wages of $60,370 for nurses working in residential care facilities, and $63,840 for those employed in home health care. BSN nurses typically command far higher wages, particularly if they are willing to work with elderly patients.
Geriatric nursing is challenging, yet rewarding. Rapid industry growth ensures that, if you possess necessary credentials, you’ll find a job you love and earn a comfortable living.