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What is Geriatric Nursing?
Geriatric nursing, also referred to as gerontological nursing, is caring for the elderly. Geriatric nurses may work in a variety of settings including hospitals, nursing homes, and assisted living centers. These nurses may also work for home healthcare organizations, caring for patients in their own residences. Geriatric nursing is concerned with the declining health that occurs later in life, as well as age related diseases like cancer and Parkinson's. This nursing specialization can be rewarding and allow nurses to build long-term relationships with their patients.
What Should I Expect Working as a Geriatric Nurse?
Geriatric nurses are specialized in caring for the illnesses and injuries that occur more commonly in elderly people. Some tasks that these nurses are responsible for include developing care plans, conducting checkups, and helping patients manage pain. Some patients may be unable to move around independently, and may need help with bathing and other day-to-day tasks. Geriatric nurses are likely to deal with bone fractures, pressure sores, and other injuries that are common with age, as well as illnesses such as Alzheimer's, diabetes, and cancer.
What are the Education and Certification Requirements?
It may be argued that any nurses who specialize in care for the elderly, despite education and certification level, are geriatric nurses. Despite this fact, there is a recognized path to becoming a certified geriatric or gerontological nurse, with specific education and certification requirements.
The first step to becoming a geriatric nurse is to become a registered nurse. This can be accomplished through an accredited diploma, associate's degree, or bachelor's degree program. After passing the NCLEX-RN and becoming licensed, an individual can begin working as a nurse.
After working as a registered nurse for 2 years, it is possible to become a certified gerontological RN. The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) requires at least 2,000 hours of clinical experience in this specialization and 30 hours of related continuing education, both within the past 3 years, in order to be eligible for the certification exam.
In addition to the RN specialization certification, one can earn an advanced degree in geriatric nursing. For those who choose to do so, the ANCC also offers Nurse Practitioner and Clinical Nurse Specialist certifications for the gerontology specialization.
What is the Average Salary of a Geriatric Nurse?
The salaries of geriatric nurses vary by location, employer, and the individual's education and experience level. Those who work in an advanced practice specialization, such as nurse practitioners or clinical nurse specialists, are likely to have the potential for higher earnings.
According to Johnson & Johnson, the salary range for geriatric nurses is $41,000 to $54,000. This is slightly lower than the average salary for registered nurses reported by the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) in a 2010 report. At that time, the median salary was said to be $64,690.
What is the Job Outlook?
The job outlook for nursing in general is positive, with the BLS predicting 26% growth in registered nursing jobs in the 10 years between 2010 and 2020. In addition, the aging of the population suggests that geriatric nursing will see job growth.