Geriatric nursing (or gerontological nursing) specializes in taking take of older adult patients. Geriatric nurses work with the elderly and their families in order to provide best care and improve the quality of life of the patients.
As the life expectancy in the most parts of the world keeps rising, geriatric nursing is now more important than ever. Between now and 2050 the number of people over 60 is expected to more than double. By the mid century world will have more than 2 billion people who will need some form or gerontological help in their daily lives.
Gerontological nursing deals with wide variety of health problems, majority of which are chronic. This includes dementia, hearing and vision impairment, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
Geriatric nurses work in various different establishments from nursing homes to hospitals and even patients homes. Depending on the health of the patients, the work may include anything from occasional appointments to 24/7 supervision of the elderly. There are several types of nurses that work in this field. Some are specialized in a specific field of nursing like clinical or mental health nursing, while others are generalists like registered nurses and LPNs (Licensed Practical Nurses). Most of the time they work together with doctors, CNAs and other hospital or care home staff.
On this blog you will find out about different fields in the geriatric nursing and also where you can find schools and classes to get started in your nursing career.
Career Path For Geriatric Nurses
Role of a Geriatric Nurse
Today, hospitals, health clinics and aged home care facilities all have an urgent need for more highly trained gerontological nurse practitioners. As the baby boomers begin to slow down and also develop age-related illnesses, they are joining the millions of elderly Americans who require specialist health care over the next 30 years.
Gerontological nurse practitioners not only have to take care of the physical changes that people go through as they get older but also the social and psychological problems that come with growing old. For example, more than 800,000 people have strokes in the United States every year. More than 60% survive but are then in need of rehabilitation and often around-the-clock care.
This is just one of the special roles required of geriatric nurse practitioners. If you are interested in a career in this specialized nursing profession, the first thing you need to do is to attend a nursing school, pass your exams and become a registered nurse (RN). You then need a few years of practical nursing experience before you can recommence your studies for the more advanced gerontological nurse practitioner role.
Becoming a gerontological nurse practitioner is challenging because you need to focus of the special healthcare issues that geriatric patients present.
Today, many universities and colleges help prepare students to become gerontological nurse practitioners and obtain the extensive clinical experience needed for their role in geriatric primary care. You can see full list of geriatric nursing programs here.
Students are encouraged to work with physicians and other nurse practitioners so they can have access to wide range of geriatric clinical practice settings and agencies. You can also choose to specialize in specific types of gerontological nursing such as looking after elderly patients with Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia. Degrees for geriatric nurse practitioners help you gain the skills and knowledge to manage the primary care of geriatric patients.
Skills Required For Geriatric Nurses
The skills you learn enable gerontological nurse practitioners to take care of the elderly by conducting physical examinations and assessing, diagnosing and treating common age-related health problems. You will work close with your patients to develop and implement individual treatment programs according to their medical histories.
Gerontological nurse practitioners are responsible for monitoring chronic health problems such as dementia, high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis and debilitating illnesses like Alzheimer’s Disease. A major responsibility of geriatric nurse practitioners is prescribing medications and collaborating closely with physicians and all other health care professionals to provide continuity of healthcare.
But the role of GNPs is not solely confined to physical health related care. You are also an educator, responsible for providing incentives, direction and educational material to help the patients learn about their own particular illnesses and how to best take care of themselves.
Geriatric nurse practitioners take into consideration the special learning needs of each client and often implement self-paced learning modules using visual aids and audio-visual methods. The role of healthcare education for the elderly also extends to their families and GNPs are regularly called upon to inform and educate the patient’s family, community and colleagues about their particular requirements to help improve their quality of life.
Gerontological nurse practitioners can be found practicing in all of the 50 United States from heavily populated major cities and towns to small rural communities where their services are highly valued. You will find employment in everything from geriatric clinics, hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, hospices, community health centers, public health departments and schools of nursing.
Geriatric nurse practitioners are important advocates for overseeing the appropriate utilization of healthcare resources geared to the needs of elderly people. They also provide essential educational services to older clients, their families and other nursing and medical professionals involved in their care.
Today, many GNPs are innovators in the field of geriatric nursing and age-related healthcare and initiate or collaborate in research aimed at improving the lives and long-term care of their patients. Gerontological nurse practitioners are fulfilling an important role in our aging societies.
Hundreds of millions of Americans are now in the seniors age bracket of 50 years+ and over the next three decades this is going to place a tremendous strain on healthcare in the United States. Geriatric nurse practitioners are on the front-line of geriatric healthcare and most of these nurses are needed to provide the specialized care for our rapidly aging society.
If you are looking for a care in nursing that is becoming highly sought-after with each passing year, training to become one of today’s desperately needed gerontological nurse practitioners could be just the role you have in mind.
Degrees for Nurses
There are many different degree options if you want to become a nurse. Getting certified to become a geriatric nurse is just one option. There are many other options as well. Few of them you can find below: